Sexual Orientation Disparities in Prescription Opioid Misuse Among U.S. Adults

Published:November 19, 2018DOI:


      The opioid epidemic in the U.S. continues to increase in severity, and misuse of prescription opioids is of particular concern since it commonly precedes heroin use. This study examined whether sexual orientation (i.e., sexual identity and sexual attraction) is a risk factor for prescription opioid misuse and use disorder among a nationally representative sample of adults in the U.S.


      This study used data from adult participants (ages ≥18 years) in the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Chi-square tests and logistic regression examined how sexual identity and sexual attraction relate to past-year and past-month prescription opioid misuse and past-year prescription opioid use disorder. Multivariable models examined associations controlling for demographic characteristics and other drug use. Gender-stratified analyses were also conducted. Data were analyzed in 2018.


      In multivariable analyses, compared with those identifying as heterosexual, bisexual individuals were at 1.53 (95% CI=1.20, 1.97) and 1.66 (95% CI=1.14, 2.42) higher odds of reporting past-year and past-month misuse, respectively. In stratified analyses, female bisexuals remained at high risk. Regarding sexual attraction, compared with being attracted to only the opposite sex, being attracted to mostly the opposite sex (AOR=2.15, 95% CI=1.77, 2.63) or being equally attracted to both sexes (AOR=1.78, 95% CI=1.38, 2.30) were associated with higher odds for past-year opioid misuse. In stratified analyses, these associations were limited to females.


      Sexual orientation disparities in opioid misuse and use disorder among a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults was found.
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