For the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 40,000 individuals who took the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
In 2015, questions were introduced asking about sexual orientation for the first time, allowing researchers to see the connection between sexual orientation and substance abuse, particularly focused on prescription opioids, The Fix reports.
Joseph Palamar, an associate professor in the Department of Population Health at New York University’s School of Medicine and another author of the study, said he was surprised to see that bisexual women were most at risk for opioid abuse, since the opioid epidemic is usually associated with men, The Fix reports.
Palamar theorized that bisexual woman might be more open to experimentation—both sexually and with drug use. However, lead study author Dustin Duncan pushed back on that idea, instead suggesting that the “minority stress model” can explain the increased risk factor for bisexual women. The minority stress model suggests that the stress of being a member of a minority group can contribute to negative health outcomes.
Bisexual woman, he said, are minorities in many ways: they are female and not heterosexual, but they also do not fit in fully with members of the lesbian or gay communities, The Fix reports.