Lesbians have the same risk factors for alcohol abuse as other women do, including stress, anxiety, depression, genetic predisposition, and histories of childhood sexual abuse or violence. Some possible reasons for increased alcohol use among lesbians have been speculated; however, as with most research on lesbian health, these hypotheses should be considered tentative, particularly given the lack of attention to issues of social class in much of the existing research, including the following findings from Hughes and Wilsnack (1997):
Large-scale studies using probability sampling methods and appropriate non-lesbian comparison groups are needed to better assess and understand the patterns of alcohol use among lesbians.
Use of Illegal Drugs. Very few data are available to document the use of illegal drugs by lesbians. Skinner and Otis (1996) compared data on substance use from a multiple-recruitment source convenience sample of lesbians from two southern metropolitan areas with population-based survey data from similar geographical areas. They found that lesbians reported greater use of cigarettes, marijuana, inhalants, and cocaine than did women in general (Skinner and Otis, 1996). In the NLHCS, 47% of those surveyed reported some marijuana use (14% reporting at least weekly use),