Risky alcohol consumption, dependency symptoms and minority stress in sexual minority young people

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Conference Proceeding
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Background Sexual Minority Young People (SMYP) use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs at disproportionate levels when compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Limited research has been conducted on dependency symptoms in this population as well as correlations between risky use of alcohol and minority stress including potential differences between identity subgroups. Methods A cross-sectional online survey was completed by 1,556 SMYPs (mean age: 22.6 years) from Australia. Variables include demographics, alcohol use, dependency symptoms and different dimensions of minority stress. Descriptive and correlational analyses, and binary logistic regressions were conducted. Results Most participants surveyed identified as gay or lesbian (59%) and as men (55%). Regular binge drinking (43%) as well as general high-risk alcohol use (52%) was prevalent in the sample. Dependency symptoms were also common in the sample including health, social, legal or financial problems as a result of alcohol consumption (17%). Meaningful differences in consumption and symptoms between subgroups were identified. Minority stress, including negative family reactions and homophobic harassment were significantly correlated with higher alcohol use and dependency symptoms. Conclusions High-risk alcohol consumption including binge drinking as well as dependency symptoms are highly prevalent in Australian SMYP but are not distributed equally across subgroups. Public health initiatives should consider targeting SMYP subgroups and concentrate on the role of alcohol as a potential maladaptive coping mechanism for minority stress. Main Message Sexual minority young people drink alcohol at risky levels. Minority stress likely to be linked to risky alcohol consumption and dependency symptoms.
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