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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017 Sep 1;178:49-56. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.04.013. Epub 2017 Jun 8.

Sexual orientation, minority stress, social norms, and substance use among racially diverse adolescents.

Author information

1
Department of Health Studies, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Gray Hall 119, Washington, DC, 20016, United States. Electronic address: mereish@american.edu.
2
Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, United States.
3
Clinical Science, Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, United States.
4
Center for Alcohol & Addiction Studies, Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI, United States.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Sexual minority adolescents are more likely than their heterosexual peers to use substances. This study tested factors that contribute to sexual orientation disparities in substance use among racially and ethnically diverse adolescents. Specifically, we examined how both minority stress (i.e., homophobic bullying) and social norms (i.e., descriptive and injunctive norms) may account for sexual orientation disparities in recent and lifetime use of four substances: tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs.

PROCEDURES:

A probability sample of middle and high school students (N=3012; aged 11-18 years old; 71.2% racial and ethnic minorities) using random cluster methods was obtained in a mid-size school district in the Southeastern United States.

RESULTS:

Sexual minority adolescents were more likely than heterosexual adolescents to use substances, experience homophobic bullying, and report higher descriptive norms for close friends and more permissive injunctive norms for friends and parents. While accounting for sociodemographic characteristics, multiple mediation models concurrently testing all mediators indicated that higher descriptive and more permissive injunctive norms were significant mediators of the associations between sexual orientation and recent and lifetime use of the four substances, whereas homophobic bullying was not a significant mediator of the associations between sexual orientation and recent and lifetime use of any of the substances.

CONCLUSIONS:

Descriptive and injunctive norms, in conjunction with minority stress, are important to consider in explaining sexual orientation disparities in substance use among racially diverse adolescents. These results have implications for substance use interventions among sexual minority adolescents.

KEYWORDS:

Descriptive norms; Injunctive norms; Minority stress; Sexual minority adolescents; Social norms; Substance use

PMID:
28641130
PMCID:
PMC5575887
DOI:
10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.04.013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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