Sexual orientation and sex-related substance use: The unexplored role of bisexuality

Tenille C. Taggart*, Craig Rodriguez-Seijas, Christina Dyar, Jennifer C. Elliott, Ronald G. Thompson, Deborah S. Hasin, Nicholas R. Eaton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Using alcohol and drugs in sexual contexts is associated with negative health consequences, including increased risk for HIV/STIs, sexual victimization, unplanned pregnancies, and overdose. Evidence suggests millions of adults regularly use alcohol in sexual contexts, thus increasing their risk for these consequences. However, no nationally representative estimates exist for rates of regular alcohol and/or drug use in sexual contexts. Additionally, previous studies suggest sexual minority individuals are more likely to use substances in sexual contexts than heterosexuals; however, none of these studies examined for multiple dimensions or subgroups of sexual orientation. Thus, using two distinct datasets—one large, nationally representative sample (N = 17,491) and an Internet-collected convenience sample (N = 1001)—we explored the associations between sexual orientation (dimensions and subgroups) and rates of regular sex-related alcohol and/or drug use in American adults. Results showed that sexual minority individuals were significantly more likely to report regularly using substances in sexual contexts compared to heterosexuals; however, results varied based on dimension of sexual orientation and by sex. Across both samples, bisexual individuals exhibited the highest rates of regular sex-related substance use. Findings suggest that sexual minorities, and bisexual individuals in particular, may be at increased risk for regular sex-related substance use and its associated negative health consequences. Future research should include nuanced and multidimensional assessments of sexual orientation to investigate sex-related alcohol and/or drug use and its associated risks, as well as examine the potential direct and indirect pathways by which these disparities may be conferred.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume115
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Keywords

  • Bisexual
  • Risky sexual behaviors
  • Sexual minorities
  • Sexual orientation
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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