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Study Links Assault Injuries, Guns and Substance Abuse in Youth

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Teens and young adults who are treated in the emergency room for injury from an assault, who own or carry a gun, are more likely to have problems with substance abuse and aggressive behavior than those without guns, a new study finds.

Researchers from the University of Michigan Injury Center studied 689 teens and young adults who were treated in an emergency room for injuries from an assault. They found 23 percent reported they owned or carried a gun in the past six months. Those with guns were more likely than those without them to use illegal drugs or misuse prescription drugs, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics. They were also more likely to have been in a serious fight in recent months, and to approve of retaliation after an injury, PsychCentral reports.

“This study zeroes in on a high-risk population of assault injured youth that has not been studied in this way previously,” lead author Patrick Carter, M.D., said in a news release. “The high rates of substance use, fighting and attitudes favoring retaliation, combined with the fact that so many of these youth had firearms, increases their risk for future firearm violence, as well as injury or death. But, our findings also provide an opportunity for public health interventions that could decrease their future firearm violence risk.”

3 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of saul
    saul / July 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I can completely relate. When I was 13, I had my taste of marijuana. About two years later I tried Vicodin. I fell in love with it and become addicted by the time I was 18. I used opiates until the age of 32 with very very brief intervals of sobriety in between. Now I’m 8 years sober and I’ve helped other people get sober too. I really can help. I’ve been there myself. I know how hard it is. Feel free to call me or text me and I’d be happy to talk to you for a while and offer some support. Here’s my number (561)-706-6236. My (real) name is Saul.

  2. Avatar of Jessica N
    Jessica N / July 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I think this study is a great starting point for finding better violence-prevention methods. However, this article spins the study as linking guns to drugs in a cause and effect way. As in, if a teen owns a gun, then they are more likely to abuse drugs. The study does not make that charge. See the conclusion of the study here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/07/02/peds.2013-0163
    There is a lifestyle being studied here and with that lifestyle comes violence, weapons and drugs. Did the drug use come first or the guns…chicken or egg? Or is it an instance of all illegal activity being accepted and encouraged? Did guns come before the violent behavior or vice versa?
    I just think this is a very misleading heading and interpretation of the study.

  3. Jim Sharp / July 11, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Correlation does not imply causation. The summary of the study only presents the linkage and does not address the issue of directionality.

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