This study assessed contributions of exposure to neighborhood stressors (violent victimization, witnessing crime, greater alcohol and drug availability) to variation in alcohol use disorder (AUD) symptoms among drinkers in three cities in Texas, USA.
We used data from interviews conducted from 2011 to 2013 with Mexican-origin adults (ages 16–65) in the US-Mexico Study of Alcohol and Related Conditions who were past-year drinkers (N = 1960; 55% male) living in two cities in the Texas-Mexico border region (Laredo, n = 751 and Brownsville/McAllen, n = 814) and one interior comparison site (San Antonio, n = 771). Analyses (conducted in 2018 and 2019) examined overall and gender-stratified multilevel mediated effects of each border site (versus San Antonio) on AUD symptoms through the neighborhood-level factors, adjusting for individual- and neighborhood-level covariates.
Overall, drinkers in Laredo reported more AUD symptoms than drinkers in the other cities, and their neighborhoods had more witnessing of crime and greater perceived drug availability, as well as higher levels of disadvantage and a lower proportion non-Hispanic White residents, than neighborhoods in San Antonio. Witnessing neighborhood crime was associated with increased AUD symptoms, while neighborhood disadvantage and proportion non-Hispanic White residents each were negatively associated with AUD symptoms. Perceived neighborhood insecurity, crime victimization, perceived neighborhood drug availability and neighborhood alcohol availability (off- and on-premise) were not significantly associated with AUD symptoms. Stratified models suggested possible gender differences in indirect effects through witnessing neighborhood crime.
Reducing witnessing of neighborhood crime may help reduce AUD symptoms among adults living in the US border region.