The Lived Experiences of Sexual Minority Women Who Have Recently Reduced Their Alcohol Intake
Sexual minority women (SMW) are more likely to report hazardous alcohol consumption than their heterosexual counterparts. However, despite a recent growth of interest in drinking transitions to reduced or no drinking, no studies to date have explored this in the context of SMW. The little research available focuses only on sobriety in SMW following alcohol addiction, rather than drinking trends from a general health promotion perspective. Aims: Given the gaps within the literature, the study
... ght to investigate the experiences of SMW who have reduced alcohol consumption and the factors that contributed to this decision. This was also explored in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic guidance on social distancing. Methods: A qualitative approach was adopted to investigate the experiences of eight SMW who had reduced their alcohol intake within the previous 18 months. Participants were recruited using social media and participated in semi-structured interviews. Interview transcripts were subjected to interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results: Three super-ordinate themes were found across participant interviews: 1) Personal, Relational and Contextual Triggers for Changing Relationship with Alcohol; 2) Navigating the Public Arena; 3) Renegotiating the Relationship with Alcohol. Conclusion: Findings demonstrated the commonality of experience that included facing peer pressure to consume alcohol and the need to develop coping tools to manage, such as consuming alcohol-free beverages or avoiding alcohol-centric venues. Uniquely for SMW, this avoidance also meant a transition from the LGBT+ Scene entirely due to the lack of sober venues. Reasons for reducing intake included fear of reliance on alcohol, familial history of alcohol misuse, achieving physical and mental health benefits, and intimate relationships. The context of lockdown was significant in providing an opportunity to reduce consumption away from the usual pressures. Implications for clinical practice, policy and research are proposed.