Part of the Picture 2009-11 Report - Executive Summary
Part of the Picture provides clear evidence on substance use issues among lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) populations based on a large sample of over 4000 people. The data so far show four distinct findings:
Across all age groups LGB people are much more likely to use drugs compared to the general population
35% of respondents had taken at least one substance (excluding alcohol) in the last month.
Drug use is common across all age groups, especially up to the age of 40. Comparison with data from the British Crime Survey (2010/11) suggests that the use of any drug in the last month is 7 times higher across all LGB adults compared to the general population, and among LGB people aged 16-24 use of any drug in the last month is more than 2.5 times higher.
Use of all drugs by LGB people is much higher than the general population and current use of all substances, apart from cannabis, is significantly higher amongst males than females. However, drug use in the last month is still far more common amongst lesbian and bisexual females than amongst females in the wider population.
Problematic patterns of drinking are much more common among LGB people
Binge drinking is high across all genders, sexual orientations and age groups, with 34% of males and 29% of females reporting binge drinking at least once or twice a week.
Available comparable data suggests that binge drinking is more than twice as common in gay and bisexual males, and almost twice as common in lesbian, gay and bisexual females, when compared to males and females in the wider population.
LGB people demonstrate a higher likelihood of being substance dependent and show high levels of substance-dependency
Over a fifth of the sample scored as dependent on a substance, and a further quarter showed at least one indicator of dependency1.
This included 16% of all alcohol users in the sample, and between 4 to 13% of users of the most commonly used drugs. Gay and bisexual males and bisexual females were the groups who were most likely to score as dependent. LGB people are not only more likely to take drugs and/or binge drink alcohol compared to the wider population; they seem more likely to be dependent on these substances.
Significant barriers exist to seeking information, advice or help among LGB people
Almost a third of respondents had sought information, advice or help about their substance use.
The internet was the most popular source of information for LGB people, so web sites must have the best quality of LGB-relevant information possible.
The reasons given for not having sought information, advice or help indicate that LGB people are experiencing barriers both in relation to recognising they may have a substance problem which needs attention, and in accessing services where they feel comfortable and confident in the services provided.
These findings show significant problematic substance use amongst LGB people, which is likely to be higher than in the wider population; with high levels of substance dependency; and perceptual and structural barriers to accessing information, advice or help on substance use.
Problematic usage and dependency amongst LGB people is currently not widely acknowledged or addressed in the substance use field, and as a consequence there is substantial hidden harm among LGB populations.
The Lesbian & Gay Foundation and the University of Central Lancashire will present these findings to key stakeholders in the substance use field, including policy-makers, commissioners, service providers and the LGB&T voluntary and community sector. Responses to the data, combined with an understanding of the experiences of those working in the substance use field will offer a context to this report’s conclusions.
This additional qualitative research will inform an action plan, outlining how the various stakeholders could work together to tackle the problematic substance use of LGB people. The action plan will be published in Autumn 2012.
Part of the Picture 2009-11 report
You can find all of this information in the report, 'Lesbian, gay and bisexual people’s alcohol and drug use in England (2009-2011)' available to download by clicking the link below.
This report presents four main findings from the first three years (2009-11) of POTP, from a total sample of 4,206 lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
1 The POTP questionnaire used the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) compatible screening questionnaire for harmful substance use and dependence