Alcohol and LGBT Communities
The research we have indicates that LGBT people drink more, and more often, than society as a whole.
Stonewall’s Prescription for Change: lesbian and bisexual women’s health check (2008) and Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health Survey (2012) research shows:
- A third of lesbian & bisexual women drink three times or more a week compared to 25% of women in general
- 42% of gay & bisexual men drink three times or more a week compared to 35% of men in general
- 77% of lesbian, gay & bisexual people drank in the past week compared to 58% of women and 68% of men in general
The Part of the Picture research from The LGBT Foundation shows:
- Alcohol use is consistently high across the sexes, sexual orientations and age groups
- 29% of lesbian & bisexual women binge drink at least once a week compared to 15% of women in general
- 34% of gay & bisexual men binge drink at least once a week compared to 19% of men in general
- 16% drink at levels indicating potential dependency. (A comparative US study found 3.8% of the population generally drank at increasing or higher risk levels.)
There is little research on alcohol and trans people but the Trans Mental Health Study 2012 found that 47% of trans people drank at high and potentially problematic levels using the AUDIT C screening tool.
The reasons for higher consumption vary. Many LGB&T social activities tend to centre on the bar and club scene, and this may be the first place LGB&T people explore their sexual and gender identity with others. LGB&T people also face higher levels of discrimination or harassment, and alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism.
LGB&T people may not feel included in preventative health messaging about the risks of alcohol, as this may not be inclusive or targeted at them. LGB&T people also cite barriers in accessing healthcare support, such as encountering negative attitudes or feeling unsafe to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Increased risk may not be identified if people are not known to be LGB or trans. Stonewall found 46% of lesbian & bisexual women are not out to their GP (this rises to 66% of bisexual women). They also found 34% of gay & bisexual men are not out to their GP (which rises to ‘6 in 10’ bisexual men).
Stonewall also found half of lesbian & bisexual women and a third of gay & bisexual men reported a negative experience of accessing healthcare. In the NHS GP Survey LGB are twice as likely to rate their GP as poor or very poor than heterosexual people. These barriers mean that traditional settings for delivering brief interventions to identify increased risk from drinking such as GP surgeries or NHS services may not reach many LGB or trans people.
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