A new study on the rates of opioid drug abuse with sexual orientation confirms earlier, less comprehensive studies suggest: lesbians, homosexuals and bisexuals are at greater risk of opioid abuse, according to researchers.
But the study also raises questions about a worrying trend in a subgroup of the LGBT community. If opioid abuse rates tend to be lower among women in general – and they, say researchers – why women with bisexuals are at the highest risk of abuse of any group in the study?
A new study by researchers at the University of New York found that 13.5 per cent of self-identified bisexual women abused recipe recipes in the past year. Compare this with a rate of abuse of 5 percent among Americans who identify as direct and a 9 percent rate of abuse among those who identify themselves as gay or lesbian, according to a news release from researchers in New York.
"Usually women are more protected from drug use," says Joseph J. Palamar, senior author of the study and associate professor of public health in New York, according to the Washington Post. "It's usually the men we care about."
The study uses data for 2015 by 42,802 people who participated in the National Drug and Health Survey. That year was the first one that asked questions about sexual attraction and orientation. The findings were published on November 19 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine – and according to the authors, their research is to first use a representative sample at the national level to study how abuse of opioid prescriptions varies according to sexual orientation.
The researchers define "abuse" as using opioid prescriptions against doctors' orders, without a prescription, in large quantities or longer than prescribed.
The results show that women who say they were bisexual were twice as likely to abuse recipe recipes compared to those of other orientations, says the researcher. While this discovery is different from the wider trend in women, it is "in line with trends in literature that indicate increased use of alcohol and substances (such as smoking and illegal drug use) in bisexual women," the researchers wrote.
"With the opioid crisis that escalates nationally, it's important to focus on preventing abuse among the most at-risk groups," Palamar said in a statement.
The researchers offer several potential explanations, including the "minority stress model" model.
This explanation suggests that "members of minority groups tend to experience a greater degree of stress due to personal and occasional experiences of stigma and discrimination and that this additional stress can predispose individuals to increased rates of improper behavior, including the use of substances" researchers write.
The rate of bisexual men with recipe-opioid abuse – 8.3 per cent – was less than 13.5 per cent of bisexual women who abused opioids in the previous year. Also, bisexual men were less at risk than homosexuals, of whom 10 percent abused opioids at the same time. The rate was 5.3 percent for right men, 3.7 percent for direct women, and 6.8 percent for lesbians, according to the study.
The researchers say that women who identify themselves as bisexuals could have particular difficulties because they face homophobia from the direct community and biophobia of the lesbian community.
The stigma on many sides makes the situation of bisexual women more difficult, "even though it does not provide community support that can alleviate stigma and discrimination," the authors write.
Future research will be needed to fully understand why the risk of bisexual women for abuse of opioid recipes is higher, according to the study.
In order to solve the problem identified by the study, researchers recommend educational programs aimed at reducing sexual abuse rates in sexual minorities.
"Primary care providers, educators, and even parents should consider sexual orientation when assessing those at risk of opioid abuse," says Dustin T. Duncan, author of the study and associate professor at the NSSI.
Researchers say they have decided to exclude the use of heroin from the study and focus on the abuse of opioid recipes "to keep the results more precise".
The authors also warn not to use the study to stigmatize LGBT people, reported Post.
"We need to continue to document who is at risk," Duncan said, according to the post. "This study is really the first step."