LGBT Youth Are More Likely To Smoke, Drink, and Get High than Straight Classmates

It's no surprise that teens often experiment with weed, alcohol and cigarettes. Many of us tried that trio of substances when we were younger. But certain demographics are experimenting more than others, according to a new study that suggests lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth tend to dabble with intoxicants more than their straight counterparts. 

"This data shows definitively that polysubstance use is an issue among many youth who identify as sexual minorities, meaning they are facing added health risks," said Sarah Dermody, an assistant professor and co-author of the study from Oregon State University. "But there are also differences among the subgroups of youth who identify as sexual minorities, suggesting we need to look beyond the averages to understand what factors may be influencing substance use in this population."

Researchers looked at results from a 2015 study on youth risk behaviour from the Centre for Disease Control, which was the first year the study added a question on sexual orientation.

They learned that there are many kids - both straight and gay - who don’t use any substances. But among those who do, kids who identified as lesbian, gay, or bi, were more likely to get drunk, stoned, or smoke cigarettes.

But while this research shows us who is doing drugs, it doesn’t tell us why.

"Are the lesbian, gay and bisexual youth using substances also facing additional adversity? Or are there protective factors that play a role in keeping some of these youth from using substances?" Dermody said. "We want to better understand what may be driving the differences in the substance use."

Sounds like that’s what they’ll be looking at next.


Adrienne, a budtender at the Higher Path Collective in Los Angeles, is used to dealing with customers who might be too high. Whether they come into the dispensary confused about what they want to buy, or they're calling in when they eat too much of an edible, Adrienne knows just what to say to help them calm down. A word of advice: Never eat the whole edible, if you're not sure how it will affect you.

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