Substance use among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Questioning adolescents in the United States, 2015.


Objectives. To provide current national estimates of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning (LGBQ) adolescents’ (grades 9–12) substance use risks.

Methods. The 2015 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey included questions for 19 substance use outcomes covering 15 substances. LGBQ adolescents’ substance use was described and their risk relative to heterosexual adolescents was estimated after controlling for sociodemographic confounders.

Results. In controlled analyses, we found that LGBQ adolescents were 1.12 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.06, 1.19) times as likely as heterosexual adolescents to report any lifetime and 1.27 (95% CI = 1.14, 1.41) times as likely to report past 30-day substance use. LGBQ adolescents were at significantly greater risk for all but 1 studied substance, including alcohol, cigarettes, cigars, cocaine, ecstasy, electronic vapor usage (“vaping”), hallucinogens, heroin, inhalants, marijuana, methamphetamine, prescription drugs (without physician direction), steroids, and synthetic marijuana.

Conclusions. LGBQ adolescents are at substantially greater risk for substance use.

Public Health Implications. Policymakers should invest in prevention and early intervention resources to address substance use risks among LGBQ adolescents.
Theodore L. Caputi
Theodore L. Caputi
Economics & Health Researcher

My research interests include public health, health innovation, and health care.