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Trajectories of Alcohol and Cigarette Use Among Sexual Minority and Heterosexual Girls

      Abstract

      Purpose

      To examine disparities between sexual minority girls (SMGs) and heterosexual girls in trajectories of substance use over time.

      Method

      Girls were included in the analyses if they were 12–18 years of age at wave 1 and did not miss sexual orientation data at wave 4 (n = 7,765). Latent curve models were estimated across all four waves (extending from middle adolescence into young adulthood) to examine trajectories of cigarette and alcohol use.

      Results

      Initial levels of substance use were higher for SMGs than they were for heterosexual girls. SMGs also exhibited sharper escalations in use across all substances over time as they were transitioning into young adulthood.

      Conclusions

      Persistent rates of cigarette and heavy alcohol use among SMGs may increase their risk for a host of mental and physical health problems in adulthood. Clinicians should be prepared to discuss SMG health topics effectively and in private, and discuss prevention and intervention programs with girls at risk.

      Keywords

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