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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2006 Jun;15(5):556-68.

Drug use, drug severity, and help-seeking behaviors of lesbian and bisexual women.

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  • 1Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Department of Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Illicit substance use and abuse may be an important contributor to behavioral health problems of lesbian and bisexual women. This paper describes the nature and extent of self-reported illicit and licit drug use, associated severity, and substance use-related helpseeking behaviors in an urban/metropolitan community sample of sexual minority women in California.


Self-administered questionnaire data from 2011 lesbian and bisexual women recruited through multiple strategies were used. Multiple logistic regression was employed to describe patterns of reported drug use and to compare lifetime severity of drug use with demographic characteristics, recent drug use, indicators of current social and emotional problems, and help-seeking behaviors.


Drug use, especially marijuana (33% used in the past year), was fairly common. Overall, 16.2% of the women in the study reported lifetime drug use that was associated with self-reported severity of substance use, and another 10.8% indicated moderate-risk use. Extent of lifetime drug use was positively correlated with self-reported recent drug use as well as current life problems. Of the respondents who evidenced more problematic drug use, 41.5% indicated that they had received professional help for a substance use problem, and 16.3% wanted but had not received such help.


The women in this study reported elevated rates of illicit drug use that was frequently associated with impairment and specific life problems. A significant proportion wanted and had not received professional treatment for their drug use problems. Future studies that examine pathways by which lesbians and bisexual women can obtain referrals and treatment for substance use problems are needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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