Lived experiences of lesbian-identified women who abuse alcohol: An interpretative phenomenological analysis
McKenzie, Sharon Lynda
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Although research has shown that alcohol abuse in the Western Cape is amongst the highest in South Africa, lesbian-identified women have largely been ignored in this area of research. International literature has identified alcohol abuse amongst lesbian-identified women as a significant problem, with alcohol consumption rates considerably higher than their heterosexual counterparts. This interpretative phenomenological analysis explored lesbian-identified women’s lived experiences (n = 25) with alcohol abuse through in-depth semi-structured interviews, in order to gain insight into their motivations for abusing alcohol and the impact this had on their lives and relationships. The core theme that emerged from the analysis of participants’ narratives was that alcohol abuse was related to coping with emotional distress and pain. The emotional distress participants experienced was due to their sexual minority status and encompassed aspects related to internalised homophobia, escaping pain, rejection, discrimination based on sexual orientation, mental health issues, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and homophobia. Results substantiate the need for the development of prevention, intervention, and support strategies, aimed specifically at sexual minority groups, in order to facilitate effective coping with sexual minority stress, mental health issues, and other distresses related to alcohol abuse.