Interpersonal abuse and alcohol use among African American young women: the mediating role of emotion dysregulation

Anthony E. Hitch, Jennifer L. Brown, Ralph J. DiClemente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


African American women experience a high prevalence of alcohol-related consequences, and no studies have explicitly examined the associations among lifetime interpersonal abuse, emotion dysregulation, and alcohol-related outcomes during the critical period of young adulthood within this population. This study used baseline data from a sample of African American young women (N = 560) who use alcohol, aged 18 to 24, enrolled in an HIV prevention intervention trial to examine whether emotion dysregulation mediated the relation between lifetime history of abuse and problematic alcohol use. Further, we sought to examine whether there were potential differential levels of problematic alcohol use based on the number of abuse types experienced. Multiple regression analyses showed that exposure to two or more forms of abuse was associated with problematic alcohol use, β =.24, p <.001, and heavy alcohol consumption, β =.23, p <.001, whereas history of a single form was not. Indirect effects of both single and multiple forms of abuse on problematic alcohol use (95% confidence interval [CI] [.16, 1.02]; [.46, 1.64]) and heavy alcohol consumption (95% CI [.02,.26]; [.05,.45]) via emotion dysregulation severity were found. Abuse and emotion dysregulation were associated with frequency of alcohol use and binge drinking, but not typical amount consumed. Hazardous alcohol consumption was prevalent among this sample of African American young women who use alcohol. This study provides preliminary evidence that emotion dysregulation may be an important mechanism buttressing the association between lifetime history of interpersonal abuse and problematic alcohol use among African American young women who use alcohol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-452
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023


  • African American women
  • abuse
  • alcohol use
  • emotion dysregulation
  • physical/sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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