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Unique patterns of polysubstance use noted among sexual and gender minorities – study

There is no “one size fits all” way to deal with addiction, with sexual and gender minority (SGM) people – as an example – having unique patterns of polysubstance use, thereby necessitating unique solutions.

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There is no “one size fits all” way to deal with addiction, with sexual and gender minority (SGM) people – as an example – having unique patterns of polysubstance use, thereby necessitating unique solutions.

This is according to a study – “Substance Use Over Time Among Sexual and Gender Minority People: Differences at the Intersection of Sex and Gender” by Annesa Flentje, Gowri Sunder, Alexis Ceja, Nadra E. Lisha, Torsten B. Neilands, Bradley E. Aouizerat, Micah E. Lubensky, Matthew R. Capriotti, Zubin Dastur, Mitchell R. Lunn, and Juno Obedin-Maliver – that appeared in LGBT Health.

As it is, SGM people are recognized to be at greater risk for substance use than heterosexual and cisgender people. This study wanted to add to the body of knowledge particularly since there is still a need to examine substance use over time among SGM people to identify patterns of polysubstance use at the intersection of sex and gender, according to the researchers.

For this study, the researchers collected data over four years among SGM respondents (n = 11,822) in The Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality (PRIDE) Study. Differences in substance use patterns (any prior 30-day use of 15 substances) by gender subgroup were examined with latent class analysis, and multinomial regression models tested relationships between gender subgroup and substance use.

The researchers found:

  • Eight classes of substance use; the three most common patterns were low substance use (49%), heavy episodic alcohol use (≥5 alcoholic drinks on one occasion) with some cannabis and tobacco use (14%), and cannabis use with some tobacco and declining heavy episodic alcohol use (13%).
  • Differences observed included lower odds of patterns defined by heavy episodic alcohol use with some cannabis and tobacco use in all gender subgroups relative to cisgender men and persons with low substance use.
  • Gender expansive people assigned female at birth, gender expansive people assigned male at birth, and transgender men had greater odds of reporting cannabis use with small percentages of heavy episodic alcohol and tobacco use.

This study, stated the researchers, suggests that “there are unique patterns of polysubstance use over time among gender subgroups of SGM people.” Specialized care is, thereby, needed, and must be considered.

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