Chronic stress makes lesbian and gay youth prone to binge drinking

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Discriminatory experiences appears to cause lesbian and gay teens to drink more than their heterosexual peers in an effort to deal with social stress.

A study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver analyzed responses from 1,232 youths aged 12 to 18 years old who took part in an online survey conducted by OutProud: The National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth. While 84 percent of respondents identified as gay, only 16 percent identified as lesbian.

According to minority stress theory, lesbian and gay people endure chronic stress due to discrimination, rejection, harassment, concealment of sexual orientation, internalized homophobia, and other negative experiences. Higher rates of physical and mental health problems among queer people have been attributed to this chronic stress. 

Several factors were identified as predictors of binge drinking.

The greater the internalized homophobia in a respondent, the greater the likelihood of binge drinking was.

Community connections had a mixed relationship to binge drinking. While on the one hand, those with connections to queer communities tended to be more likely to binge drink, greater connectedness mitigated the effects of internalized homophobia and indirectly reduced the chances of heavy episodic drinking. 

"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," lead author Dr. Sheree M. Schrager, director of research in the Division of Hospital Medicine at the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles, stated in a news release.

Comments (4) Add New Comment
Nathan
I'm sick of hearing the constant whining and blaming of society people who have drinking and drug problems use as an excuse for their behaviour. You are responsible for your drinking. The gays have it better than ever before. There is not more discrimination, no more marginalization. They are celebrated over, and over, and over again.

Get over your victim mentality. You aren't any more stressed out than any one else. If you have a problem with the booze, it's not society's fault. It's your own inability to drink in a responsible manner. You'd probably have this problem if your were not gay. Get treatment, stop feeling sorry for yourself and move on with your lives.
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Eric
I agree with Nathan. I'm gay, 42 and take responsibility for my own actions and behaviours. My problems are my own and have nothing to do with how others feel or react to my being gay.

It's high time we accept the fact that we are accepted as equals in our society and behave as such. People just don't want to take responsibility for themselves anymore.
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Eric
An additional thought, LGBT youth are more supported and resourced than ever before. If I had the fraction of the resources avaialble to me as an out gay teen it would have made the world of difference. I grew up in the middle of no where Manitoba and when I came out (well, was outed by the school social worker) I was told repeatedly that the beatings, harrassment, bullying and ugly tyhings being said to me by peers and adults alike was of my own doing. For every beating, I received a harsher punishment than the kid who beat me up.

Where was my GSA? Where was the anti-bullying campaign or any supportive adult (with the exception of my mom) for me and all the other kids in the 70's, 80's and early 90's?

I didn't hit the bottle, or do drugs to deal with all the stress. I picked my self up, worked hard and got the hell out of there and into university and later graduate school.

So queer kids of today, I say to you use all of the resources you have that other generations didn't. Again, people have to take responsibility for themselves.
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Craig Takeuchi
Nathan and Eric:
I think you're both misunderstanding the point of the study.

The study is not about youths complaining about the cause of their problems. The study was about researchers seeking to find a relationship between minority stress and the higher rates of binge drinking among LGBT youth.

While there is LGBT acceptance in some parts of North America, it is not uniform and discrimination, not to mention invisibility, exclusion, and assaults, still exists. Rights are one thing. Social acceptance, particularly outside of major metropolitan centres, is another.

Just because you may have been able to overcome your problems does not mean that everyone else is able to, as there are numerous other factors at play.

While learning to overcome problems is one thing, learning to understand with not only your head but also your heart is another. One thing you clearly haven't learned yet from your experiences, Eric, is compassion.
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