Serious mental illness among young adult women who use drugs in the club scene: co-occurring biopsychosocial factors

Maayan Lawental, Hilary L. Surratt, Mance E. Buttram, Steven P. Kurtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Young women who regularly attend nightclubs are at risk for numerous health and social consequences, including mental distress, sexual and physical victimization and substance dependence. This paper uses a biopsychosocial framework to examine co-occurring mental health problems, victimization, substance dependence, sexual risk and physical pain among a sample of young women who use drugs (N = 222) in Miami’s club scene. The majority of women were under 24 years old, Hispanic, and identified as heterosexual. Almost all the women reported past 90-day use of alcohol, ecstasy/MDMA, marijuana, cocaine and prescription opioids and benzodiazepines; 32% of women reported being in a monogamous relationship while 41.9% reported having three or more sexual partners in the past 90 days; 65.3% met DSM-IV criteria for substance dependence; 60.4% met DSM-IV criteria for serious mental illness (SMI) and 59.9% were victimized as minors. Women who had SMI had higher odds of substance dependence, concurrent physical pain, three or more sexual partners in the past 90 days, childhood victimization and severe abuse-related trauma. The high levels of interconnected mental health, victimization, trauma, physical pain, substance dependence and sexual risk factors observed are underreported in the literature, as young women club scene participants appear to be more similar to other marginalized drug-involved populations than previously considered. While further research is needed, it appears these young women are in great need of outreach for primary health, mental health, HIV prevention, increased social support and substance abuse treatment services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-88
Number of pages7
JournalPsychology, Health and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Club drugs
  • biopsychosocial
  • pain
  • serious mental illness (SMI)
  • sexual risk
  • social support
  • substance use
  • victimization
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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