Stress, Coping, and Context: Examining Substance Use Among LGBTQ Young Adults With Probable Substance Use Disorders
Previous research has shown those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) experience disparities in substance use. Most research has explained this by suggesting LGBTQ-related stressors create poor mental health which can lead to coping behaviors that include substance use. The current study attempts to examine how LGBTQ young adults relate probable substance use disorders through their identities. To complete the study, participants were recruited from a larger study including 27,805 participants. The final study discussed here included 59 LGBTQ young adults that participated in in-person interviews that asked questions surrounding their substance use, sexual orientation, gender identity, and how they influence each other. The researchers found that LGBTQ-related stressors did predict substance use in many of the participants. These stressors included self-stigma, expectation of rejection, and interpersonal and structural discrimination.
Participants described sociocultural influences including gay bars and LGBTQ-specific environments such as Pride events on substance use. Some participants even discussed pressure to use substances to feel a part of the LGBTQ community. Overall, the participants described unique stressors related to substance use that intersected with their sexual minority identities. Because of these unique experiences of young adults in the LGBTQ community, providers should provide specific care to these individuals. The researchers of this study suggest providers explicitly address experiences and sociocultural influences, embrace “cultural humility,” stay abreast of current LGBTQ rights-related policies, discuss social support networks, and create treatment environments welcoming to LGBTQ people. Finally, care provided to youth and young adults should focus on helping socialize outside of substance-saturated environments.
Take Away: Members of the LGBTQ experience disparities in substance use typically explained through LGBTQ-related stressors. These stressors can lead to coping behaviors that include substance use. The current study looks at how LGBTQ young adults relate their probably substance use through their identities. 59 LGBTQ young adults completed in-person interviews discussing identity and substance use. They found participants did in fact describe their substance use surrounding stressors and environments related specifically to the LGBTQ community. Researchers suggest providers create a welcoming environment for members of the community along with focusing on helping youth and young audlts socialize outside of substance-saturated environments.
Felner, J. K., Wisdom, J. P., Williams, T., Katuska, L., Haley, S. J., Jun, H.-J., & Corliss, H. L. (2019). Stress, Coping, and Context: Examining Substance Use Among LGBTQ Young Adults With Probable Substance Use Disorders. Psychiatric Services. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201900029