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Sexual Minority Youth and Substance Use Patterns

Arch Sex Behav; ePub 2019 Jan 2; Talley, et al

Male youth with partners of both sexes were at greater risk of persistent use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana over time and demonstrated earlier ages of first use. This according to a recent study that sought to examine substance use disparities among sexual minority youth. A subsample of 348,175 students participated in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) study from years 2005 to 2015 (biennially) in jurisdictions that asked at least 1 question about sexual minority status. Sex-stratified regression models were run to determine the association between class membership and age of onset and persistent use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. Researchers also found:

  • Sexual minority female subgroups were primarily distinguished by sexual identity (eg, “lesbian,” “bisexual”), whereas sexual minority male subgroups were primarily distinguished by sexual behavior.
  • Lesbian and female bisexual youth were at risk of initiating substance use at younger ages and, among lifetime users, were more likely to persist in their tobacco and marijuana use over time, relative to sexually active female heterosexual youth.


Talley AE, Turner B, Foster AM, Phillips II G. Sexual minority youth at risk of early and persistent alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use. [Published online ahead of print January 2, 2019]. Arch Sex Behav. doi:10.1007/s10508-018-1275-7.

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