Many young bisexual people resort to binge-drinking due to
feeling stigmatised and socially excluded, a University of
Otago study has found.
The study's lead author from the university's Department of
Public Health in Wellington, Frank Pega, said binge-drinking
rates were higher among young people who were attracted to
more than one gender than among other sexual minorities and
heterosexual young people.
The study was based on interviews with 32 participants aged
from 18 to 25 in 11 focus groups, conducted in Dunedin,
Auckland and Wellington.
One of the significant factors identified in the study was
the "wide-ranging social exclusion experienced by these young
people, from not only heterosexual, but also lesbian and gay
communities," Mr Pega said.
"Most study participants reported that they commonly
experienced biphobia and discrimination, and some had been
verbally harassed and physically abused for their sexual
attraction. For many, these experiences resulted in a sense
of being stigmatised, which caused daily stress and anxiety.
"While many participants were very resilient and responded
positively, some participants binge-drank to manage this
The study contained important lessons which could inform
national guidelines for alcohol addiction prevention and
treatment in sexual minorities, he said.
The study said more attention needed to be paid to reducing
social stigma towards young people who were attracted to more
than one gender.
This included increasing opportunities for bisexuals to meet
and organise in groups, running "broad anti-stigma" campaigns
and making laws stipulating social policies that ensured
equal rights for sexual minorities.
"One example is the marriage equality legislation, currently
before Parliament," he said.
Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) queer support
co-ordinator Neill Ballantyne agreed young bisexuals often
felt more isolated than other sexual minorities.
"Often young people who are attracted to more than one gender
can find themselves living in a space between two worlds," Mr
However, in his experience he had not found that young
bisexual people were any more likely to face issues with
binge-drinking than those in the lesbian and gay communities.
"I believe that excessive alcohol consumption is a much
larger issue for our whole society to grapple with and I
think it can sometimes do more harm than good to identify
specific demographics which are seen as drinking more," he