For LGBT+ Teens, Stress Fuels Binge Drinking

LGBTAccording to a new study, high rates of binge drinking among LGBT+ teens may be caused by chronic stress, due to difficult social situations, such as victimization and homophobia.[1] Past research has expressed how LGBT+ people experience higher rates of physical and mental health due to minority stress.1 According to this theory, chronic stress due to discrimination, rejection, harassment, concealment of sexual orientation, internalized homophobia, and other negative experiences leads to poor physical and mental health.1

Therefore, for the study, researchers looked to determine if the minority stress theory could explain why LGBT+ teens engage in binge drinking more than heterosexual teens.1 Researchers analyzed responses from 1,232 teens between the ages of 12 and 18, who took part in an online survey conducted by OutProud: The National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth.1 Of those who took the survey, 16 percent identified as lesbian females, and 84 percent identified as gay males.1

Consistent with the minority stress theory, the participants reported greater psychological distress when they experienced violence or victimization, if they had internalized homophobia, and if they had made their sexual orientation known.1

Internalized homophobia was a significant predictor of binge drinking, while experiencing violence or victimization was marginally associated with drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time.1 However, those living with their parents were less likely to report binge drinking.1

Feeling connected to the LGBT+ community protected many against internalized homophobia, furthermore protecting them against binge drinking.1

“Given that interventions are more effective when they are developed to match the cultural experiences of participants, theoretically grounded studies like this one can potentially lead to tailored treatment approaches based on the unique experiences of lesbian and gay adolescents,” said lead author Dr. Sheree M. Schrager, PhD, MS, director of research in the Division of Hospital Medicine at the Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.1

[1] Wood, J. (2014). Stress Fuels Binge Drinking For Gay and Lesbian Teens. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 5, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/05/04/stress-fuels-binge-drinking-for-gay-and-lesbian-teens/69335.html

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