London: Gay people are seven times more likely to take illegal drugs than the general population, a new survey revealed.
Conducted by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) and the University of Central Lancashire, the poll also found one in five of those surveyed shows signs of dependency on drugs or alcohol.
Campaigners described the findings as a “wake-up call”, while specialists warned that gay people risk being “excluded” from traditional drug treatment services, the Independent reported.
The report, who sampled more than 4,000 people over two years, warns that there is “significant problematic substance use among lesbian, gay and bisexual people” and a risk of “substantial hidden harm”.
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.
Feelings of “rejection” and “fear” as well as “shame around sex” could be factors leading to substance abuse, said David Stuart, education, training and outreach manager at London Friend, the UK’s only targeted LGBT drug and alcohol service.
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.”
But Kitty Richardson, 25, who runs the Most Cake, a blog for lesbians in London, said: “the scene has a lot to answer for”.
She added: “People are very quick to label gay people as troubled, or inherently needing those crutches, but all our methods of socialising revolve around drink or drugs. A by-product of that is people can become dependent.”
The research, carried out at Pride events and through online and postal surveys, canvassed a younger age profile than the CSEW, but LGF’s policy and research co-ordinator, Heather Williams, called the figures “striking”.
She added: “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.”
While drug use in the general population tends to decrease with age, the report found almost as many lesbian, gay and bisexual 36- to 40-year-olds were taking drugs as their younger counterparts.