Harmless? A hierarchical analysis of poppers use correlates among young gay and bisexual men

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Drug and Alcohol Review, 2019, 38 (5), pp. 465 - 472
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© 2019 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Introduction and Aims: Poppers (alkyl nitrites) are recreational substances commonly used during sexual activity. The current legal status of poppers is complex and wide-ranging bans are increasingly under discussion. Research has identified disproportionate levels of poppers use in sexual minority men. While research on poppers use among sexual minority men exists, little is known about poppers use patterns and correlations with psychosocial and other factors among gay and bisexual young men. Design and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted with 836 Australian gay and bisexual young men aged 18 to 35 years. Descriptive statistics and hierarchical segmentation analyses were conducted to identify poppers use patterns, and correlates of recent poppers use (past 3 months) with personal characteristics, use of other substances, as well as mental and psychosocial health including minority stress, LGBT-community connectedness and participation. Results: High levels of lifetime (38%, n = 315) and recent (24%, n = 204) poppers use were reported. However, few participants reported dependency symptoms, risky consumption or problems arising from using poppers. The final model included three variables (visiting sex-on-premises venues, licensed LGBT venues, and using other substances) and predicted 85% (n = 174) of recent poppers use. No correlations with other concepts or characteristics could be identified. Conclusion: This analysis further supports the hypothesis that poppers may be substances with a comparably low-risk profile. A regulation of poppers with a harm reduction approach may present a valuable public health intervention.
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