Background Despite the high prevalence of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) among men who have sex with men (MSM) and its well-documented association with substance use in adulthood, little research has examined the psychological mechanisms underlying this association. The current study utilized a large, multinational sample of MSM in Latin America to examine the role of distress intolerance (i.e., decreased capacity to withstand negative psychological states) in the relationship between childhood sexual abuse history and problematic alcohol use. Methods As part of an online survey conducted among members of the largest social/sexual networking website for MSM in Latin America, participants (n = 19,451) completed measures of childhood sexual abuse history, distress intolerance, and problematic alcohol use (CAGE score > = 2). Results Participants who reported a history of childhood sexual abuse indicated higher levels of distress intolerance, which was in turn associated with greater odds of engaging in problematic alcohol use. A mediation analysis further showed that distress intolerance partially accounted for the significant association between childhood sexual abuse history and problematic alcohol use. Conclusion These findings provide initial evidence for the role of distress intolerance as a process through which early trauma shapes MSM health later in life. These findings also underscore the potential utility of addressing distress intolerance in alcohol use prevention and intervention efforts that target MSM with a history of childhood sexual abuse.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Pharmacology (medical)