A new study from the University of Missouri finds that young adults who are bi or who are still exploring their sexuality have a higher propensity to abuse alcohol or engage in other risky behaviors than those who are exclusively straight or gay. Researcher Amelia Talley explained that the stress of biphobia may play a significant role:
TALLEY: 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. Those groups reported drinking to relieve anxiety and depression at higher rates than strictly heterosexual or homosexual individuals. One possible explanation is that people who aren’t either completely heterosexual or homosexual may feel stigmatized by both groups.
Exclusively homosexual and heterosexual persons drank at roughly the same rate and reported drinking to enhance enjoyment of social situations. The other sexual minority groups tended to report more alcohol misuse. This suggests that it may be the stressful process of developing one’s sexual identity that contributes to problematic drinking, just as people in any difficult situation in life may turn to alcohol to alleviate stress.
Numerous other studies have documented that effects of biphobia and the unique challenges that bi people face as a result. The stigma that the bi community faces from both the straight and gay communities is a reminder of how limited society’s understanding of sexuality is in general. Accepting people for who they are is always a healthier choice than forcing them into narrow boxes.