Roughly 25% of the LGBT Population Abuses Substances

3.14.2012

By Mike Berlin

A new health report about the gay community yields troubling results.

The fact that the LGBT population uses a drug or two shouldn't come as a complete shock to anyone in it, but a recent analysis of studies on substance abuse by the Center for American Progress (via The Fix) presents discomfiting results.

"Although data on the rates of substance abuse in gay and transgender populations are sparse," writes Jerome Hunt, "it is estimated that between 20 percent to 30 percent of gay and transgender people abuse substances, compared to about 9 percent of the general population."

Hunt then summarizes a collection of research regarding the LGBT community:

"Tobacco

  • Gay and transgender people smoke tobacco up to 200 percent more than their heterosexual and nontransgender peers.

Alcohol

  • Twenty-five percent of gay and transgender people abuse alcohol, compared to 5 to 10 percent of the general population.

Drugs

  • Men who have sex with men are 3.5 times more likely to use marijuana than men who do not have sex with men.
  • These men also are 12.2 times more likely to use amphetamines than men who do not have sex with men.
  • They are also 9.5 times more likely to use heroin than men who do not have sex with men."

Hunt's report goes on to cite three main factors that influence his findings:

  1. The LGBT community suffers a significant amount of stress due to institutional and cultural discrimination, which increases likelihood of substance abuse.
  2. They are discouraged from seeking substance abuse treatment, which can be culturally inadequately and discriminatory.
  3. Tobacco and alcohol companies aggressively target gay bars and restaurants because they are largely concentrated cultural hubs.

Hunt goes on to provide a detailed analysis of each of these factors and present both long- and short-term strategies for eliminating the vast disparity between the gay community and the general population.

For now, take it easy on yourselves this weekend.

Photo: Getty Images

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