Problems with social acceptance and social victimization predict substance use among U.S. Reserve/Guard soldiers

Rachel A. Hoopsick, Bonnie M. Vest, D. Lynn Homish, Gregory G. Homish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of negative social interactions/experiences on substance use have largely been studied in civilian populations, but less is known about United States Army Reserve/National Guard (USAR/NG) soldiers—a high-risk group. We examined the associations between problems with social acceptance, social victimization, and substance use among USAR/NG soldiers, and examined potential differences by deployment history. The sample consisted of soldiers who completed baseline and 1-year follow-up assessments (N = 445) of Operation: SAFETY, an ongoing study of USAR/NG soldiers. We examined the effects of baseline problems with social acceptance/social victimization on nonmedical use of prescription drugs (NMUPD), illicit drug use, frequent heavy drinking (FHD), and alcohol problems at follow-up. Significant effects were small in magnitude but consistent in direction. Greater problems with social acceptance were associated with higher odds of NMUPD and illicit drug use. Greater social victimization was associated with higher odds of NMUPD and illicit drug use. There were no differences by deployment history. Problems with social acceptance/social victimization were not associated with FHD or alcohol problems. Problems with social acceptance/social victimization may contribute to drug use among USAR/NG soldiers. Intervention programs should address social issues, regardless of deployment history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-321
Number of pages11
JournalStress and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • alcohol use
  • drug use
  • military
  • social acceptance
  • social victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this