Part of the Picture 2009-11 Report - Key points and action plan

Part of the Picture (POTP) aims to establish a national database of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people’s drug and alcohol use; to use the database to inform local and national policy and practice in addressing the drug and alcohol use of LGB people; and to improve knowledge and understanding of the needs of LGB people amongst drug and alcohol agencies through dissemination of the research findings.

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:

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.

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.

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 dependency.

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 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.

Download the report here

For more information on Part of the Picture, email

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Part of the Picture: Action Plan

Following the report launch, recommendations for action have been developed with key stakeholders in the drug and alcohol use field. Actions for individual stakeholders centre on using an awareness of the Part of the Picture report findings to begin to tackle the problematic drug and alcohol use of LGB people.

Commissioners and policy makers
Under the Equality Act 2010, services must be designed and commissioned to take account of LGB people’s specific needs. Commissioners and policy makers should therefore:

  • Include a requirement to meet specific LGB needs in drug and alcohol commissioning strategies and procurement plans;
  • Mandate that commissioned service providers monitor the sexual orientation of their service users, in order to better understand LGB people’s need.

Drug and alcohol service providers
While the Part of the Picture data shows that LGB people are more likely to be using drugs and alcohol than the general population, rates of access to drug and alcohol treatment services are currently unknown. Drug and alcohol service providers should therefore:

  • Monitor the sexual orientation of service users and use the data to establish if LGB people are using their service(s) and if they rate the service(s) as highly as heterosexual people;
  • Ensure services are accessible to LGB people and are meeting their specific needs. For example, does the service have an LGB specialist worker, or does it provide services for substances popular among LGB people such as cannabis?

LGB&T voluntary and community sector
Information expertise is available from The Lesbian & Gay Foundation on up-to-date research on LGB drug and alcohol use, and advice on using this in funding bids and to influence services locally. The LGB&T voluntary and community sector should therefore:

  • Ensure staff and volunteers are aware of potential drug and/or alcohol misuse issues for service users;
  • Use the Part of the Picture data to talk to commissioners and service providers locally, to get LGB people’s needs on important strategic documents (such as regional drug and alcohol strategies, the Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies).

Part of the Picture project team
We will continue to research LGB alcohol and drug use and to disseminate our findings to stakeholders in the drug and alcohol use field, and among the LGB&T voluntary and community sector.

  • Conduct qualitative research to explore why certain groups of LGB people are using substances in the way they are;
  • Produce a report of the 2009-12 data to be launched in Summer 2013.

Download the Part of the Picture Action Plan here