For years, academic research has shown that lesbian and bisexual women abuse alcohol at higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts. Amelia Talley sought an answer in a year study of several hundred women, the results of which are published in this month's issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Talley, an assistant professor in Texas Tech University's Department of Psychological Sciences, found an apparent culprit in what might best be called identity frustration: Women who feel a disconnect between who they are attracted to and how they identify themselves. Alcohol is a drug that may be particularly useful to avoid or distract yourself from focusing too much on yourself or being intensely introspective.
Objective To compare sexual orientation group differences in the longitudinal development of alcohol use behaviors during adolescence. Main Outcome Measures Age at alcohol use initiation, any past-month drinking, number of alcoholic drinks usually consumed, and number of binge drinking episodes in the past year. Results Compared with heterosexual participants, youth reporting any minority sexual orientation reported having initiated alcohol use at younger ages. Greater risk of alcohol use was consistently observed for mostly heterosexual males and females and for bisexual females, whereas gay and bisexual males and lesbians reported elevated levels of alcohol use on only some indicators.
Research suggests that alcohol use and misuse are higher among lesbian, gay and bisexual than heterosexual populations, yet the social context of drinking in sexual minority communities has rarely been examined. We identified and analysed patterns in our data using thematic analysis. Respondents perceived heavy drinking as central to the commercial gay scene.