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Journal of Studies on Alcohol



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National Alcohol Survey, alcohol consumption


Social Work


Objective: Few population-based studies have explored differences in alcohol consumption by sexual orientation. This study examined the prevalence of abstinence, drinking, heavier drinking, alcohol-related problems, alcohol dependence and help-seeking among homosexual and bisexual women and men compared with heterosexuals. Method: Data are from the 2000 National Alcohol Survey, a national population-based survey of adults (N = 7,612), a Random Digit Dialing telephone survey of all 50 states of the United States and Washington, DC. Four categories of sexual orientation were created using questions on both sexual orientation self-identification and behavior: homosexual identified, bisexual identified, heterosexual identified with same sex partners and exclusively heterosexual. Five alcohol measures (past year) were used in the analyses: (1) mean number of drinks, (2) days consuming five or more drinks on a single occasion, (3) drunkenness, (4) negative social consequences (2 or more) and (5) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, alcohol dependence. A lifetime measure of help-seeking for an alcohol problem was also analyzed. Results: Few significant differences were found among men by sexual orientation. By contrast, both lesbians and bisexual women had lower abstention rates and significantly greater odds of reporting alcohol-related social consequences, alcohol dependence and past help-seeking for an alcohol problem. Conclusions: These findings suggest that alcohol dependence and alcohol-related consequences differ by sexual orientation, particularly among women. These findings also emphasize the need for the inclusion of sexual-orientation items in population-based surveys so that prevalence rates within these subgroups can be effectively monitored.


Posted with permission from Alcohol Research Documentation, Inc., the copyright holder and publisher of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol (now the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs). Website: http://www.jsad.com. Copyright is retained by the publisher.

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