Sexual minority stress and substance use: An investigation of when and under what circumstances minority stress predicts alcohol and cannabis use at the event-level

Sexual minority women and gender diverse (SMWGD) individuals are at elevated risk for alcohol and cannabis use disorders compared with cisgender, heterosexual women. This has been attributed to the unique stressors that SMWGD experience (i.e., sexual minority stress); however, recent studies have found mixed evidence for a link between sexual minority stress and substance use. The current manuscript introduces and tests a novel theoretical model derived from integrating minority stress theory and the multistage model of drug addiction to explain these mixed findings. We used data from a 30-day ecological momentary assessment (EMA) study of substance use among SMWGD to determine whether event-level associations between enacted stigma (bias from others) and same-/next-day alcohol and cannabis use are dependent on an individual’s typical pattern of substance use (e.g., frequency, quantity, motives, and substance use disorder [SUD] symptoms). Findings indicate that enacted stigma predicted an increased likelihood of alcohol and cannabis use among those who used frequently and those who had a probable alcohol or cannabis use disorder and predicted a decreased likelihood of use among those who used less frequently. Enacted stigma also predicted cannabis (but not alcohol) use among those who reported high coping motives for use. Findings provide initial evidence in support of an integrated model of minority stress theory and the multistage model of drug addiction. Findings suggest that alcohol and cannabis use disorder interventions for SMWGD would benefit from addressing sexual minority stress and coping skill-building. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

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