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Sexual Assault and Substance Use in Male Veterans Receiving a Brief Alcohol Intervention

Michael A. Cucciare, Sharfun Ghaus, Kenneth R. Weingardt, Susan M. Frayne

Objective: Many studies have documented the link between substance use and a history of sexual assault in women; however, few studies have examined this relationship in men. The purpose of this study was to explore the rates of sexual assault in a sample of male veterans reporting alcohol misuse and to further explore potential differences in alcohol use patterns and alcohol-related characteristics in those with and without a history of sexual assault. We also explored the types of illicit drugs being used in the past 90 days and whether a clinical sample of male veterans reporting sexual assault are at greater odds of using these substances when compared with their peers with no history of sexual assault. Method: Data were collected on a nationwide sample (N = 880) of male veterans receiving care in Veterans Administration outpatient mental health clinics. Results: We found that 9.5% of our sample reported a history of sexual assault, and those with this history reported increased alcohol consumption, a greater number of alcohol-related consequences, and an increased likelihood of using an illicit substance in the past 90 days. The most commonly used illicit substances were cannabis, cocaine, and opiates. Those with sexual assault histories were also more likely to report risk factors that may exacerbate the negative effects of any level of alcohol consumption. Conclusions: Our findings highlight the burden of alcohol and illicit drug use among male veterans and suggest that substance use disorder treatment settings may be a context in which prevalence of a history of sexual assault is high. Our findings further support prior call for universal screening for sexual assault among this population. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 72, 693700, 2011)