Research & Resources

Trends in substance use by gender and sexual minority status

To investigate trends and disparities in substance use by sexual minorities and heterosexuals, researchers analyzed data on alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use from the National Alcohol Survey from 2000 to 2015. They found that among women, sexual minorities used more of each substance than heterosexuals. Among men, sexual minorities engaged in less high-intensity drinking but more marijuana use, including co-occurring alcohol and marijuana use, compared to heterosexuals. Marijuana use, both by itself and co-occurring with alcohol, increased from 2000 to 2015, particularly among heterosexual participants. Levels of harmful drinking stayed the same over the time period among heterosexual women, but were higher and more variable among sexual minority women. The article, “Harmful drinking, tobacco, and marijuana use in the 2000–2015 National Alcohol Surveys: Examining differential trends by sexual identity,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. It was published in the journal Substance Abuse.