Cover: Alcohol Use and Cannabis Use Trajectories and Sexual/Gender Minority Disparities in Young Adulthood

Alcohol Use and Cannabis Use Trajectories and Sexual/Gender Minority Disparities in Young Adulthood

Published in: Psychology of Addictive Behaviors (2022). doi: 10.1037/adb0000806

Posted on Feb 8, 2022

by Michael Stephen Dunbar, Daniel Siconolfi, Anthony Rodriguez, Rachana Seelam, Jordan P. Davis, Joan S. Tucker, Elizabeth J. D'Amico


Sexual and gender minority (SGM) young people may use alcohol or cannabis (A/C) at higher rates that non-SGM peers, but little is known about whether SGM young adults experience poorer health, psychosocial, and other outcomes at similar levels of A/C use.


We used longitudinal survey data from a community cohort recruited from California middle schools in 2008 (average age 11.5) and followed across 12 waves through 2020. Participants reported on past-month A/C use at each wave. Individuals also reported SGM status as well as outcomes in multiple domains in Wave 12. Sequelae of change models tested differences in intercept and slope for A/C use trajectories from Waves 1–12 across SGM groups, and simultaneously examined differences in outcomes by SGM status adjusting separately for A/C trajectories.


SGM (n = 445) and non-SGM (n = 2,089) groups did not differ on baseline probability of A/C use. SGM individuals showed steeper increases in probability of cannabis but not alcohol use over time. Adjusting for trajectories of A/C use, SGM individuals had significant disparities relative to non-SGM peers with respect to: Employment and economic stability, criminal justice involvement, social functioning, subjective physical health, behavioral health, and perceived unmet mental health treatment need.


At the same levels of A/C use from middle school through young adulthood, SGM individuals show disparities in multiple domains compared to non-SGM peers. Targeted efforts to reduce substance use in conjunction with other structural disadvantages experienced by SGM youths are needed to address the emergence of disparities in young adulthood.

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