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A Look at the Research: Sexual Violence and Opioids

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We’ve talked a lot about the link between the opioid epidemic and sexual abuse, assault, and harassment. In a series of blog posts, NSVRC explored the need for rape crisis centers to be part of a community response to opioid overdoses, how the prevention of opioid addiction and sexual violence are connected, and how race impacts the opioid epidemic.

It felt important to also look at the existing research and explore the correlation between opioids and sexual violence. As you can see in our annotated bibliography, there is still very little research being done on the connections between lifetime experiences of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment, and opioid addiction. 

Most research surveys small numbers of women in substance abuse treatment for opioids about childhood abuse, including sexual abuse. Women in treatment for opioid addiction are more likely to have experienced sexual abuse as a child. This is also true for teens, data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health shows that teen that experienced childhood physical or sexual abuse or supervisory or physical neglect were more likely to report prescription opioid misuse. 

Let this be a call to action to fund more research on the link between sexual violence and drug use and abuse, and also an opportunity to once again reiterate that to prevent opioid abuse, we must prevent sexual violence. Everyone deserves a safe, respectful community to call home. 

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