Health & Fitness

Bi people up to twice more likely to engage in alcohol use, study finds

One, two, three, one, two, three…

Bisexual people has higher odds of engaging in alcohol use behaviors when compared with people from the sexual majority. This is according to a study that – just as worth highlighting – also found that bullying mediated sexual minority status and alcohol use more particularly among bisexual females.

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As it is, alcohol use among underage youth is already a significant public health concern, stated G. Phillips, B. Turner, P. Salamanca, M. Birkett, M.L. Hatzenbuehler, M.E. Newcomb, R. Marro and B. Mustanski in “Victimization as a mediator of alcohol use disparities between sexual minority subgroups and sexual majority youth using the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey”, which was published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. As per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol is the “drug of choice” among adolescents, meaning more youth use and abuse alcohol than any other substance.

Premised on the notion that prevalence of alcohol use is disproportionately higher among sexual minority youth (SMY) than among their heterosexual peers, the researchers examined sexual identity and sexual behavior disparities in alcohol use, and the mediational role of bullying in a sample of high school students.

For this study, data from the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey were used to assess the association between sexual minority status (identity and behavior) and alcohol use with weighted logistic regression. Due to well-documented differences between males and females, the researchers stratified models by gender. Physical and cyberbullying were examined as mediators of the relationship between sexual minority status and alcohol use.

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The researchers reported “associations between certain subgroups of sexual minority youth and alcohol use across all four drinking variables (ever drank alcohol, age at first drink, current alcohol use, and binge drinking). Most of these associations were found among bisexual-identified youth and students with both male and female sexual partners; these individuals had up to twice the odds of engaging in alcohol use behaviors when compared with sexual majority students. Associations were strongest among females.”

Notably – if not surprisingly – bullying mediated sexual minority status and alcohol use, though only among bisexual females.

With the disparities in alcohol use differing by gender, sexual identity and sexual behavior, the researchers are recommending more targeted – not blanket – interventions to ensure reaching the populations.

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