Exposure to state violence and substance use

Alexandra Domike Blackman, Sarah Kammourh, Elizabeth R. Nugent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We analyze whether exposure to state violence affects substance use at the individual level. In doing so, we bring together the political science and public health literatures on the effects of violence, analyzing an outcome that is neglected in political science and a type of violence that remains understudied in public health. We leverage a unique panel study, the Population Council’s Survey of Young People in Egypt (SYPE), to test whether rates of substance use are higher among those who were exposed to violence during the country’s 2011 revolution, a moment of intense state violence against civilians. Results demonstrate that direct exposure to state violence increases substance use; respondents exposed to violence are significantly more likely to use drugs, alcohol, and tobacco than those who were not. Our findings are robust to specifications that control for respondents’ reported exposure to state violence prior to the revolution and substance use among family and friends, factors identified in medical research as key predictors. Our study sheds light on a fundamental predicament of authoritarian governance and the downstream effects of state violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalResearch and Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Political Science and International Relations


  • Egypt
  • public health
  • revolution
  • state violence
  • substance use


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