Psychological factors and the use of psychoactive substances in relation to sexual orientation: A study on Israeli young adults

Mally Shechory Bitton, Hagit Bonny Noach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In the context of sexual minorities and the distress they may experience, recent years have witnessed a trend emphasizing the idea that protective factors may curb risk behaviors, while stressing that not all sexual minorities do experience distress. However, protective factors have been studied less frequently than have risk factors. To the extent that protective factors are identified among those at risk for psychological distress and risk behaviors, strategies can seek to address risk by enhancing these protective factors. The current study aimed to expand the knowledge in this area by simultaneously examining protective and risk factors as well as by examining the association between sexual orientation, psychological distress, sense of coherence (SOC), social support (e.g., parental and peer relationships), and alcohol and cannabis use among Israeli young adults. A self-reported questionnaire was distributed to 496 young adults: 254 heterosexual participants and 242 homosexual participants. As hypothesized, participants with a same-sex orientation reported higher psychological distress, lower SOC, a weaker relationship with their parents, and a greater use of alcohol and cannabis than did heterosexual participants. Regression analyses indicated that low SOC, low family support, and low peer support predicted higher psychological distress. However, sexual orientation was not found to predict distress levels among young adults in Israel. Similarly, no associations were found between alcohol and cannabis use and psychological distress. The results are discussed within the framework of resilience factors that can serve as a barrier to distress and to the use of psychoactive substances among young adults in general and sexual minorities in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20452-20462
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number24
Early online date6 May 2022
StatePublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Alcohol and cannabis use
  • Distress
  • SOC
  • Sexual orientation
  • Social support
  • Young adults


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