Sexual Orientation and Substance Abuse Treatment Utilization in the United States: Results from a National Survey

This study examined substance abuse treatment utilization across three dimensions of sexual orientation (identity, attraction, and behavior) in a large national sample of adults in the United States. Prevalence estimates were based on data collected from the 2004-2005 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. The sample consisted of 34,653 adults 20 years and older, and represented a population that was 52% women, 71% White, 12% Hispanic. 11% African American, 4% Asian, and 2% other race/ethnicities. An estimated 2% of the target population self-identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual; 4% reported same-sex sexual behavior, and 6% reported same-sex sexual attraction. Sexual minorities, especially women, had a greater likelihood of lifetime substance use disorders and earlier age of drinking onset. The majority of respondents with substance use disorders were untreated and lifetime substance abuse treatment utilization differed based on sexual orientation. Sexual minorities were found to have more extensive family histories of substance abuse problems. The findings indicate the underutilization of substance abuse treatment among all adults, and highlight some important factors to consider when working with sexual minorities.