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Substance Abuse Higher Among Lesbians

An Australian study suggests women in the LGBT community are at a higher risk for binge drinking and drug use.

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By Valerie Tejeda

08/23/12

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Bisexual and gay women are more likely to engage in risky behavior such as drug use and binge drinking, claims new research from Australia’s Curtain University. Of the 900 lesbian or bisexual women surveyed, whose average age was 26, illegal and legal drug use was found to be higher among this group than in the general public—about half admitted to drinking more than Australian national guidelines recommend, and one-third admitting to binge drinking. “In the six months prior to the survey nearly half of the women had used an illicit drug—36% had used cannabis, 18% ecstasy and 16% speed... these figures are higher than the broader community," says researcher Jude Comfort. “The findings all help in building a picture of the community and provide direction to work with this community to improve their health.”  The report also showed that 35% of the women surveyed had experienced some form of anti-gay bullying or intolerance in the year prior to the survey, and 20% had experienced violence from a female partner. According to Comfort, domestic violence among lesbian couples is something that's rarely discussed, and health promotion, prevention, and intervention programs are lacking in this community as well. “While health promotion has made significant gains in some issues at the broader community level it appears these messages have been less successful in achieving positive health behavior in this group of women,” says Comfort, who hopes this study will help establish the need for future public health programs targeted to bisexual and lesbian women.

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