Substance use behaviors among college students with same-sex and opposite-sex experience: results from a national study

Addict Behav. 2003 Jul;28(5):899-913. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4603(01)00286-6.


Objectives: This study seeks to describe the population of college students with same-sex sexual experience and determine if these students report more substance use than their peers with only opposite-sex experience.

Methods: Questionnaires were completed by a national random sample of college students on 119 campuses in 1999. A total of 10,301 sexually active students were categorized as having only opposite-sex, only same-sex, or both-sex partners, and their smoking, binge drinking, and marijuana use behaviors were compared.

Results: Students who report same-sex sexual experiences comprise 6.1% of respondent. Women with both-sex partners were approximately twice as likely to smoke, binge drink, and use marijuana as women with only opposite-sex partners (OR=1.41-2.78), but women with only same-sex partners were not at increased risk for these behaviors. Men with both-sex partners were less likely to binge drink (OR=0.54) than men with only opposite-sex partners.

Conclusions: Students with same-sex experience are present at every type of college. College women with both-sex partners appear to be an appropriate target for health interventions; outreach to these students and further study of related behaviors are warranted.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / poisoning
  • Ethanol / poisoning
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Surveys
  • Heterosexuality / psychology*
  • Homosexuality / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Partners
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Students / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol