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Psychol Addict Behav. 2009 Mar;23(1):175-84. doi: 10.1037/a0014284.

Disclosure of sexual orientation and subsequent substance use and abuse among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths: critical role of disclosure reactions.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, City University of New York-City College and Graduate Center, USA.


Research on whether disclosure of sexual orientation promotes lower substance use among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals has been inconsistent. One reason for this may be that disclosure results in accepting and rejecting reactions. The current report longitudinally examines whether the types of reactions to disclosure are associated with substance use and abuse among 156 LGB youths (ages 14-21). Neither the number of disclosures nor the numbers of accepting or neutral disclosure reactions were associated with substance use or abuse. However, the number of rejecting reactions to disclosure was associated with current and subsequent alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use, even after controlling for demographic factors, social desirability, and emotional distress. Further, accepting reactions were found to moderate or protect youths from the negative role of rejecting reactions on alcohol use, but not other substances. This research indicates that, rather than disclosure per se, it is the number of accepting and rejecting reactions in response to disclosure that are critical to understanding substance use among LGB youths. Further, the results suggest that to be maximally effective, substance use prevention and treatment efforts should address rejecting reactions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved).

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