Previous research suggests that gay, lesbian, and bisexual youths constitute a population at risk for substance abuse. However, little is known about the influences associated with their substance use. This paper examines the individual, family and community risk and protective factors (i.e., those unique to their experience and those shared with other vulnerable youths) associated with substance use among sexual minority adolescents. Funded by an NIMH dissertation grant, this cross-sectional study gathered data from 184 gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents, ages 13 to 18, who were recruited through multiple methods in northern New England. Self-report questionnaires were administered directly by the Investigator. Of the participants, 62% were females and 94% were white. Twenty-five percent identified as lesbians, 25.5% as gay males, 48% as bisexual, and 1.5% unsure. Mean age was 16.6. The majority (72%) lived with one or both parents. Multiple regression analyses revealed that higher educational achievement, having disclosed one's sexual orientation to family members, and experiencing fewer stressful events uniquely contributed to less substance use. Further, the youths' integration into their peer networks as openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual young people moderated the relationship between their family's attitudes about their sexual orientation and their substance use. More negative family attitudes predicted higher use and more positive attitudes predicted less use in the presence of lower integration. Together, these factors explained 25% of the variance in their substance use. These findings suggest greater risk for socially isolated youths who also experience more negative family attitudes about their sexual orientation.
Learning Objectives: 1. Identify risk and protective factors associated with substance use among gay, lesbian and bisexual adolescents. 2. Recognize that their substance use is associated with both factors unique to their experience as sexual minority adolescents and those shared with other youths. 3. Recognize that gay, lesbian and bisexual youths must be assessed for psychosocial concerns both related and unrelated to their sexual orientation
Keywords: Adolescents, Substance Abuse
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA