Purpose: We assessed the prevalence, incidence, and correlates of substance use among Asian American individuals transitioning from adolescence to young adulthood.
Methods: Data were obtained from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Wave II (1996) and Wave III (2001). Information on substance use was abstracted from a nationally representative sample of 1108 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) from both Waves. Weighted prevalence, incidence, and patterns of smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, and other drug use were analyzed by sexual orientation and gender. Multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted to investigate the unique contribution of being a sexual minority in relation to four types of substance use by gender.
Results: A link between sexual orientation and substance use behaviors among AAPIs did not emerge until young adulthood. Significant increases in the incidence and prevalence of all four types of substance use (tobacco, binge drinking, marijuana, and other drugs) were found among sexual minority AAPIs. Specifically being an AAPI sexual minority young woman, compared with being a heterosexual young woman, a heterosexual young man, or a sexual minority young man, was significantly associated with substance use after controlling for demographic characteristics, problem behaviors, and substance use during adolescence. Also the highest prevalence of substance use was found among AAPI sexual minority women.
Conclusions: These findings add greater urgency to addressing the role of sexual orientation in designing substance abuse programs.