Sexual minority adolescents are at a much higher risk for substance abuse, particularly those who fall in the middle of the sexual identity spectrum.
Jeremy Goldbach, UT alumn and assistant professor at The University of Southern California, said at a lecture Wednesday that this correlation is related to these young people receiving the least amount of social support.
“I’m generalizing a little here, but these folks tend to have a lot of straight people saying ‘you’re just gay, come out already’ and a whole bunch of gay people saying ‘you’re just gay, come out already,'” Goldbach said. “They’re not really getting support for the fact that they identify as bisexual or somewhere in the middle.”
The event was hosted by The Center for Students in Recovery, which seeks to provide support for students in recovery from addiction through support groups, social activities and educational programming. CSR Director, Sierra Castedo, said the center started these seminars last semester to provide another avenue for people to learn about the CSR in a low-risk way.
“You can be coming down here just to learn — you don’t have to be coming down here because you’re interested in recovery,” Castedo said. “Somebody who’s kind of on the edge of maybe making a major behavioral change can just come scope us out and not make any big commitments or any big statements because all of that stuff can be kind of scary.”
John Ingham, student engagement coordinator at University High School attended the event and said he was interested because of the high school’s focus on recovery from substance use.
“We’re trying to best figure out ways that we can become more culturally sensitive in a learning environment,” Ingham said. “Becoming more culturally sensitive can prevent future recurring use, which is what our goal is.”
The Minority Stress Theory states the disparities between sexual minority people and heterosexual people are related to chronic stress, Goldbach said. This stems from identifying as part of a socially disadvantaged group.
“Things that happen when you’re a child or an adolescent can really form a pathway of health for a long time,” Goldbach said. “I think that if we can try to create supportive and inclusive environments for these people that we’ll see very similar outcomes to their peers and these trajectories of health will be a lot better.”