Sexual Confusion Can Lead to the Bottle

Sexuality can drive young adults to binge drink

(RxWiki News) Young adults are exploring their sexuality more than ever. And for some, indecision may put their lives at risk.

A recent study revealed that young adults who don't identity as either homosexual or heterosexual are more apt to put themselves in danger.

These students have been found to drink more alcohol and drink it more frequently, in order to deal with confusion.

"Talk to a therapist if you're having drinking issues."

Amelia Talley, PhD, an assistant professor of psychological sciences in the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri, conducted the study.

Dr. Talley and team followed over 2,000 incoming college students for four years. Each fall and spring, students were surveyed on their sexual self-identification, attraction and sexual behavior.

Students fell in many different sexual orientation groups such as exclusively heterosexual, exclusively homosexual, mostly homosexual, mostly heterosexual and bisexual.

According to Dr.Talley, "Exclusively homosexual and heterosexual persons drank at roughly the same rate and reported drinking to enhance enjoyment of social situations," while, "Bisexuals and students whose sexual orientation was in flux reported the heaviest drinking and most negative consequences from alcohol use, such as uncontrolled drinking and withdrawal symptoms."

Dr. Talley suggested that students who did not identify as explicitly homosexual or explicitly heterosexual felt pressure from those groups to fit in. She also suggested that those students who find themselves in the middle may also get stigmatized for not fitting into a certain label.

Consequently, researchers found that, "Those groups reported drinking to relieve anxiety and depression at higher rates than strictly heterosexual or homosexual individuals."

Results were different according to gender as well. Females were more likely to identify as somewhere in the middle rather than explicitly homosexual or heterosexual. Talley said females were able to admit attraction to other females easier than males were to other males.

Males mostly put themselves in the explicitly homosexual or heterosexual categories.

This observational trial could help create better support networks for those students who regularly use alcohol to deal with their stress caused by uncertainty over sexual orientation.

This study was published in the June 6 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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Review Date: 
July 2, 2012