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Subst Use Misuse. 2003 Sep-Nov;38(11-13):1739-58.

Lesbians' drinking patterns: beyond the data.

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Public Health, Mental Health, and Administrative Nursing, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


Early studies report very high rates of "alcohol abuse" and alcoholism among lesbians. However, serious methodological problems, including nonrepresentative samples that were often recruited in lesbian or gay lesbian bars, limit the validity of findings from these studies. In this article, I briefly review the literature on lesbians' use of alcohol and present findings from a recent study conducted in Chicago (USA). This study recruited a race- and age-diverse sample of lesbians and a demographically matched group of heterosexual women. Rates of "heavy" alcohol use and alcohol-use-related problems among lesbians were much lower in this study than in early studies. However, lesbians were more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to be in recovery and to have been in treatment for alcohol-use-related problems. Further, high rates of childhood sexual abuse, depression, and suicidal ideation reported by lesbians suggest that at least some groups may be at heightened risk for "heavy" drinking and drinking-related problems. Nevertheless, results of this and other studies suggest that reports of heavy drinking and drinking-related problems among lesbians may have been inflated in earlier studies, or that heavy drinking and drinking-related problems may have declined among lesbians.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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