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 RAND.org on February 08, 2022
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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