Reducing Risk for Illicit Drug Use and Prescription Drug Misuse: High School Gay-Straight Alliances and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth

Document Type




Format of Original

5 p.

Publication Date




Source Publication

Addictive Behaviors

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.01.007


Previous research suggests that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are at elevated risk for using illicit drugs and misusing prescription drugs relative to heterosexual youth. Previous research also indicates that LGBT youth who attend high schools with a gay-straight alliance (GSA) report having fewer alcohol problems and lower levels of cigarette smoking. The present study investigates whether the absence of a GSA is associated with risk for illicit drug use and prescription drug misuse in a sample of 475 LGBT high school students (M age = 16.79) who completed an online survey. After controlling for demographic variables and risk factors associated with illicit drug use, the results of 12 logistic regression analyses revealed that LGBT youth attending a high school without a GSA evidenced increased risk for using cocaine (adjusted odds ratio [adjOR] = 3.11; 95% confidence interval [95% CI] = 1.23–7.86), hallucinogens (adjOR = 2.59; 95% CI = 1.18–5.70), and marijuana (adjOR = 2.22; 95% CI = 1.37–3.59) relative to peers attending a high school with a GSA. Youth without a GSA also evidenced increased risk for the misuse of ADHD medication (adjOR = 2.00; 95% CI = 1.02–3.92) and prescription pain medication (adjOR = 2.00; 95% CI = 1.10–3.65). These findings extend the research base related to GSAs and further demonstrate the importance of providing LGBT youth with opportunities for socialization and support within the school setting. Important limitations of the present study are reviewed.


Addictive Behaviors, Vol. 39, No. 4 (April 2014): 824-828. DOI.

Nicholas Heck was affiliated with the University of Montana - Missoula and Brown University at the time of publication.