Independent (UK) 23 Sep 2012
Whether it is a coping mechanism in the face of homophobia or just hectic partying is not clear, but new figures suggest that gay people are seven times more likely to take illegal drugs than the general population, with one in five of those surveyed showing signs of dependency on drugs or alcohol.
More than a third of gay, lesbian and bisexual people took at least one illegal drug in the last month, according to the largest study of its kind. Whether drug use is a psychological crutch, a way of integrating into the “scene” or perhaps both, that figure compares to 5 per cent of the wider population who admitted using a drug in the last month in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).
Campaigners yesterday described the findings as a “wake-up call”, while specialists warned that gay people risk being “excluded” from traditional drug treatment services. The report, conducted by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) and the University of Central Lancashire, 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.
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.”