Lesbian, gay and bisexual people could be seven times more likely to take drugs than the general population, the first ever study into the communities’ alcohol and drug use has found.
Across all ages, 35% of the people surveyed had taken at least one illicit substance in the last month, which is likely to be seven times more common than in the general population.
The research also found that 34% of gay and bisexual men and 29% of lesbian and bisexual women binge-drink at least one or twice a week, around twice as common than in the wider population.
Conducted by the Manchester-based Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), the study of over 4,000 LGB people found over a fifth of respondents scored as dependent on a substance, and a quarter showed at least one indicator of dependency.
LGF’s policy and research coordinator, Heather Williams, said: “With this latest report showing that rates of substance usage and dependency are much higher in the LGB community that the wider population, it is clear that policy makers and service providers need to consider the specific needs of LGB people.”
The survey, which was conducted in 2009-2011 as part of LGF’s ‘Part of the Picture’ project and funded by the Big Lottery, finds the causes behind the figures complex and inter-related, but states there are ‘significant barriers’ preventing many LGB people from accessing the support services they may need.
The importance of LGB/Gay bars within the communities is considered to be a possible factor, but more qualitative and in-depth research to be finished in years four and five of the project will provide more conclusive answers.
Ms Williams said: “We hope this research will foster wider understanding of how drugs and alcohol feature in the lives of LGB people, and break down the perceptual and tangible barriers LGB people often face when seeking advice or support about substance use issues.”
Check back on Mancunian Matters later this week for a more detailed follow-up to this story. If you have been affected by any of the issues raised here, please email us here.