Risk of substance abuse and dependence among young adult sexual minority groups using a multidimensional measure of sexual orientation.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


We examined associations between two definitions of sexual minority status (SMS) and substance abuse and/or dependence among young adults in a national population.


A total of 14,152 respondents (7,529 women and 6,623 men) interviewed during wave four of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were included in the study (age range: 24-32 years). We used two definitions of SMS based on self-reported attraction, behavior, and identity: 1-indicator SMS (endorsing any dimension) and 3-indicator SMS (endorsing all dimensions). Outcomes included nicotine dependence as well as ≥3 signs of substance dependence, any sign of substance abuse, and lifetime diagnosis of abuse or dependence for alcohol, marijuana, and a composite measure of other drugs. Weighted logistic regression models were fit to estimate the odds of each outcome for each of the sexual minority groups (compared with the heterosexual majority), controlling for sociodemographic covariates.


SMS women were more likely than exclusively heterosexual women to experience substance abuse and dependence, regardless of substance or SMS definition. In adjusted models for women, 3-indicator SMS was most strongly associated with abuse/dependence (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] range: 2.74-5.17) except for ≥3 signs of cannabis dependence, where 1-indicator SMS had the strongest association (AOR=3.35). For men, the 1-indicator SMS group had higher odds of nicotine dependence (AOR=1.35) and the 3-indicator SMS group had higher odds of ≥3 signs of alcohol dependence (AOR=1.64).


Young adult female sexual minority groups, regardless of how defined, are at a higher risk than their heterosexual peers of developing alcohol, drug, or tobacco abuse and dependence.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Goldberg, S; Strutz, KL; Herring, AA; Halpern, CT

Published Date

  • May 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 128 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 144 - 152

PubMed ID

  • 23633729

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3610066

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1468-2877

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0033-3549

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/003335491312800304


  • eng