A two-year study by England’s Lesbian and Gay Foundation and the University of Central Lancashire reveals that gays are seven times more likely to take illegal drugs, with one in five of the over 4,000 people surveyed showing signs of drug or alcohol dependency.
The study, the largest of its kind, found 35% of gay, lesbian and bisexual people took at least one illegal drug in the last month, compared to 5% of the wider population, as reported by the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).
The most widely used substances among those surveyed were party drugs such as cannabis and poppers, followed by powder cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine and amphetamines. They were 10 times more likely to have used cocaine in the last month than the wider population, and 13 times more likely to have used ketamine. Heroin use was comparable among both populations, but the use of crack cocaine was again higher among the gay community.
David Stuart, education, training and outreach manager at London Friend, the UK’s only targeted LGBT drug and alcohol service, said feelings of “rejection” and “fear” as well as “shame around sex” could be factors leading to substance abuse. He added that drug services “aren’t equipped” to deal with the shifting drug trends, noting that “while government funding is linked to crime prevention and drugs like crack and heroin, less than 2 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual people use these drugs.”
Research was conducted via Pride events and online and postal surveys. Although it skewed to a younger age demographic than the CSEW, the report also found that lesbian, gay and bisexual people age 36 to 40 years old were as likely to use drugs as their younger counterparts.
LGF’s policy and research co-ordinator, Heather Williams told The Independent, “This should be a wake-up call for people working with the community and for policy makers commissioning services at a local and national level.”
You can read the full report here.