Investigating Differential Protective Effects of Marriage on Substance Use by Sexual Identity Status

  • Karen F. Trocki Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 6001 Shellmound St., Suite 450, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA
  • Amy A. Mericle Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 6001 Shellmound St., Suite 450, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA
  • Laurie A. Drabble Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 6001 Shellmound St., Suite 450, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA; San José State University College of Health and Human Sciences, One Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95192-0049, USA
  • Jamie L. Klinger Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 6001 Shellmound St., Suite 450, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA
  • Cindy B. Veldhuis School of Nursing, Columbia University, 630 West 168th Street, Mail Box Code 6, New York, NY 10032, USA
  • Tonda L. Hughes School of Nursing, Columbia University, 630 West 168th Street, Mail Box Code 6, New York, NY 10032, USA
  • Katherine J. Karriker-Jaffe Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 6001 Shellmound St., Suite 450, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA
Keywords: Substance use, High-intensity drinking, Alcohol use disorder, Marijuana use, Sexual minorities

Abstract

Background: Research suggests that marriage is protective against substance use. However, few studies have examined whether this protective effect differs for sexual minorities, a population at increased risk for substance use. Using data from four waves of the cross-sectional U.S. National Alcohol Survey (NAS; 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015), we investigated whether the protective effects of marriage varied by sexual identity.

Methods: Sex-stratified logistic regression models were used to examine independent and interactive effects of current marital status (being married vs. not) and sexual minority status (lesbian/gay/bisexual vs. heterosexual) on high-intensity drinking, alcohol use disorder, and marijuana use in the past year.

Results: Among both women and men, sexual minority status was generally associated with higher odds of these outcomes and marriage was consistently associated with lower odds. Differential effects of marriage by sexual identity with respect to marijuana use were found only among men; marriage was significantly associated with decreased odds of marijuana use among heterosexual men but increased odds among sexual minority men.

Conclusions: Marriage may be less consistently protective against hazardous drinking and marijuana use among sexual minorities than heterosexuals. Findings underscore the importance of both quantitative and qualitative studies designed to better understand disparities in substance use across both sexual identity and relationship statuses.

Published
2020-10-19
How to Cite
Trocki, K., Mericle, A., Drabble, L. A., Klinger, J. L., Veldhuis, C. B., Hughes, T. L., & Karriker-Jaffe, K. J. (2020). Investigating Differential Protective Effects of Marriage on Substance Use by Sexual Identity Status. The International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research. https://doi.org/10.7895/ijadr.267
Section
Article