Alcohol Abuse
By Joanna Sickler

Most treatments are not geared to the specific needs of the lesbian population. However, the lessening social stigma upon being a lesbian in addition to changing social norms within the population may be contributing to an overall decline in drinking.

Talking Points:

  • Research has consistently identified lesbians as being at a greater risk for alcohol abuse than heterosexual women (although these studies have had methodological limitations).1,2 Reasons for this increased risk include fewer roles, responsibilities, and social norms that encourage drinking among the lesbian population. Another important variable that must be considered is the alcoholuse of  the partner.3
  • Recent research seems to indicate that drinking rates among the lesbian population have been declining.4  However, drinking remains particularly high among lesbian youth and older lesbians, which is possibly due to both groups increased level of social isolation.5
  • Lesbian youth are also at high risk because they face few options for inclusion in LGBT society that exist outside of clubs andbars.  Hence, these become the only venues where they can interact with and meet other lesbians.6
  • In recent years liquor companies have targeted LGBT youth.7  

    1. Cassidy MA, Hughes TL. 1997. Lesbian health: Barriers to care. In: McElmurray Bj, Parker R.S, eds.  Annual Review of  Women’s Health, Vol. 3. New York: National League for Nursing Press.  Pp. 67-87.
    2. Eliason Mj. Caring for the lesbian, gay, or bisexual patient: Issues for critical care nurses.  Critical Care Nursing Quarterly 19(1): 65-72.
    3. Hughes TL, Wilsnack SC. 1997.  Use of alcohol among lesbians: Research and clinical implications.  American Journal of Ortho psychiatry 67 (1):20-36, 1997.
    4. McKirnan, D.J., and Peterson, P.L.  Alcohol and drug use among homosexual men and women: Epidemiology and population characteristics.  Addictive Behaviors 14:545-553, 1989.
    5. Hughes, et al 20-36
    6. Hughes.
    7. Hughes.

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