Research & Resources

Social Networks and Sexual and Gender Minority Disparities in Alcohol Use and Consequences Among First-Year College Students

In this study, researchers investigated the association between social relationships and alcohol use and the related consequences of sexual and gender minority (SGM) college students. Researchers collected data from 1,340 students during the 2016 fall semester of their first year of college at one university. Through a survey asking students if they had at least one SGM in their peer network, researchers collected information about alcohol use and related consequences and the social networks of participants. Results showed that regardless of SGM status, students who nominated at least one SGM peer reported significantly lower drinks per week and less heavy drinking frequency after adjusting for relevant covariates, including peer drinking. SGM participants showed a significantly stronger negative association between having an SGM peer and heavy drinking frequency and alcohol-related consequences than their cisgender heterosexual counterparts. These findings highlight the importance of SGM social networks as a potential protective factor for reducing alcohol use and related consequences among SGM college students. The researchers suggested that college campuses identify ways to support connections among SGM students.

This paper, “Social networks and sexual and gender minority disparities in alcohol use and consequences among first-year college students,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and published in the journal LGBT health.

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