Justifications for heavy alcohol use among gender and sexually diverse people
A range of research reports that many gender and sexually diverse people drink alcohol at heavy levels. This study used 24 focus groups to explore shared understandings of alcohol use among gender and sexually diverse people living in New Zealand. An inductive, data-driven thematic analysis was employed to identify explanations for heavy drinking among gender and sexually diverse people. Three key explanations were articulated: alcohol is needed for socialising; drinking helps coping with stress; alcohol and drug treatment services are inadequate. These results demonstrate justifications for heavy drinking in certain contexts. This behaviour runs counter to public health approaches and messages that highlight low-risk levels of drinking or not drinking as desirable. Public health interventions should continue to address alcohol use at a whole population level but should be supplemented by policy and interventions that take into account the sociocultural contexts and structural conditions that encourage drinking among gender and sexually diverse people.