Confusion over sexual identity may be pushing students to drink
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Alcohol abuse has been associated with unwanted and risky sexual encounters, which carry with them an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Drinking can lower a person's inhibitions, making them more likely to forgo condoms and other safer sex methods, which is why it's important for people to make sexual decisions when they are sober.
Recently, scientists from the University of Missouri found that college students who do not define themselves as strictly heterosexual or homosexual are more likely to abuse alcohol, suggesting that this group may be at risk of practicing unsafe sex.
"Bisexuals and students whose sexual orientation was in flux reported the heaviest drinking and most negative consequences from alcohol use, such as uncontrolled drinking and withdrawal symptoms," said Amelia Talley, MU assistant professor of psychological sciences in the College of Arts and Science.
Furthermore, the researchers found that these individuals were more likely to report drinking to relieve anxiety or depression than people who define themselves as heterosexual or homosexual. According to Talley, this could be due to the fact that bisexuals may not feel accepted by others with more defined sexual orientations.
Females in the study seemed to be more comfortable than males to admit that they were attracted to both genders. Men tended to define themselves as either heterosexual or homosexual. Talley speculated that this could be because even a small degree of sexual attraction to other males can cause young men to feel anxious about their sexual identity.
Coming to terms with one's sexual identity can be an extremely stressful process, and it's important that young people who may be confused have support from the adults in their lives. The scientists said that these findings should encourage college campuses to create groups to help bisexual or questioning students deal with stress and anxiety without using alcohol.
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