Exposure to violence, substance use, and neighborhood context

Soc Sci Res. 2015 Jan;49:314-26. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.08.015. Epub 2014 Aug 27.


Adolescent exposure to violence and substance use are both public health problems, but how neighborhood context contributes to these outcomes is unclear. This study uses prospective data from 1416 adolescents to examine the direct and interacting influences of victimization and neighborhood factors on adolescent substance use. Based on hierarchical Bernoulli regression models that controlled for prior substance use and multiple individual-level factors, exposure to violence significantly increased the likelihood of marijuana use but not alcohol use or binge drinking. There was little evidence that community norms regarding adolescent substance use influenced rates of substance use or moderated the impact of victimization. Community disadvantage did not directly impact substance use, but the relationship between victimization and marijuana use was stronger for those in neighborhoods with greater disadvantage. The results suggest that victimization is particularly likely to affect adolescents' marijuana use, and that this relationship may be contingent upon neighborhood economic conditions.

Keywords: Exposure to violence; Juvenile delinquency; Neighborhoods; Substance use; Victimization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Binomial Distribution
  • Cannabis*
  • Child
  • Crime Victims*
  • Exposure to Violence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / etiology
  • Marijuana Smoking*
  • Poverty*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Violence