Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 109, Issue 2, pp 233–241 | Cite as

Sexual orientation and alcohol-related harms in Canadian youth

  • Maria N. Wilson
  • Mark Asbridge
  • Christy Woolcott
  • Donald B. Langille
Quantitative Research



To determine associations between experiencing alcohol-related harm, sex, and sexual orientation among Canadian high school students.


We used data from the 2012 Atlantic Student Drug Use Survey (ASDUS), including a comprehensive six-category measure of sexual orientation and nine different alcohol-related harms for analyses. Simple logistic regression was used to determine the association between experiencing any of the nine harms and each specific alcohol-related harm and sexual orientation, stratified by sex. Analysis was limited to those who indicated they had consumed alcohol in the year prior to the survey.


High rates of having any alcohol-related harm were seen among both males (41.7%) and females (46.0%) attending Atlantic Canadian high schools. Mostly heterosexual males had a lower odds ratio for experiencing any alcohol-related harm compared to heterosexual males. Mostly heterosexual females and bisexual females had higher odds ratios for experiencing any alcohol-related harm than heterosexual females.


High rates of alcohol-related harm in this population suggest that youth may benefit from a harm reduction approach to alcohol use. While we found that mostly heterosexual and bisexual female youth experience higher levels of alcohol-related harm than heterosexual females, further research is required to confirm this association and to determine its relevance to harm reduction strategies.


Sexual behavior Adolescent Adolescent behavior Harm reduction Alcohol drinking Underage drinking 



Déterminer les associations entre l’expérience des méfaits attribuables à la consommation d’alcool, le sexe et l’orientation sexuelle chez des élèves du secondaire canadiens.


Pour nos analyses, nous avons utilisé les données de l’édition 2012 de l’enquête sur la consommation de drogues chez les élèves dans les provinces de l’Atlantique (ASDUS), notamment un indicateur exhaustif de l’orientation sexuelle comportant six catégories et neuf types de méfaits attribuables à l’alcool. Un modèle de régression logistique simple a servi à déterminer les associations entre l’expérience d’au moins un des neuf méfaits, chaque méfait attribuable à l’alcool et chaque orientation sexuelle, stratifiées selon le sexe. Notre analyse s’est limitée aux élèves ayant dit avoir consommé de l’alcool au cours de l’année antérieure à l’enquête.


Des taux élevés d’expérience de méfaits attribuables à l’alcool ont été observés chez les garçons (41,7%) et chez les filles (46%) fréquentant les écoles secondaires du Canada atlantique. Les garçons principalement hétérosexuels ont affiché un rapport de cotes moins élevé que les garçons hétérosexuels pour ce qui est de l’expérience d’au moins un méfait attribuable à l’alcool. Les filles principalement hétérosexuelles et les filles bisexuelles ont affiché des rapports de cotes plus élevés que ceux des filles hétérosexuelles pour ce qui est de l’expérience d’au moins un méfait attribuable à l’alcool.


Les taux élevés de méfaits attribuables à l’alcool dans cette population indiquent que les jeunes pourraient bénéficier d’une démarche de réduction des méfaits de la consommation d’alcool. Bien que nous ayons constaté que les niveaux de méfaits attribuables à l’alcool étaient plus élevés chez les filles principalement hétérosexuelles et les filles bisexuelles que chez les filles hétérosexuelles, il faudrait pousser la recherche pour confirmer cette association et en déterminer la pertinence pour les stratégies de réduction des méfaits.


Comportement sexuel Adolescent Comportement de l’adolescent Réduction des dommages Consommation d’alcool Consommation d’alcool par les mineurs 


Funding information

This research was supported by a grant from the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (Grant PSO-EXT-2011-8431). Funding for data collection was provided in part by the provincial Departments of Health and Wellness in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria N. Wilson
    • 1
  • Mark Asbridge
    • 1
  • Christy Woolcott
    • 2
  • Donald B. Langille
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Faculty of MedicineDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Perinatal Epidemiology Research Unit, Departments of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and PediatricsDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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