What is it about?
Sexual and gender minority young people (e.g., LGBTQ+) may use alcohol or cannabis/marijuana at higher rates than their heterosexual/cisgender peers, but little is known about whether sexual and gender minority young adults experience poorer outcomes even if they are using the same amount of alcohol or cannabis as their heterosexual/cisgender peers. For this study, we looked at individuals’ past-month alcohol and cannabis use over roughly 12 years (approximately ages 11-22) so we could see increases or decreases over time for both sexual and gender minority young people and their heterosexual/cisgender peers. We did not see differences in initial levels of alcohol or cannabis use for the two groups. However, sexual and gender minority young people did have a steeper increase in cannabis use over the 12-year period. When we accounted for each person’s level of alcohol and cannabis use, we found that sexual and gender minority young adults reported worse outcomes than their heterosexual/cisgender peers in several areas even at similar levels of use. These included poorer economic stability (including homelessness and food insecurity), greater police involvement, poorer physical health and social functioning, and greater unmet need for mental health treatment.
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Why is it important?
This study was important for two key reasons. First, it is one of the only studies looking at a modern-day group of young sexual and gender minority individuals from middle school into young adulthood. Most studies on similar topics have used survey data that may now be out-of-date and may not be representative of the current lived experience for sexual and gender minority young people. Second, we found that even at similar levels of alcohol or cannabis use, sexual and gender minority young adults experienced more problems. This means that there are likely other factors we must address if we want to improve young adult economic and health outcomes for sexual and gender minority persons. We did not look at these factors in this study, but other research suggests that these factors include things like discrimination, rejection, and other stressful experiences.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Alcohol use and cannabis use trajectories and sexual/gender minority disparities in young adulthood., Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, January 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/adb0000806.
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