Part of the Picture: New Research on LGB Substance Use

Publish Date: 12/11/2013

‘Part of the Picture’ aims to take a snapshot look at alcohol and drug use within the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community of England over a 5 year period, and is delivered in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Part of the Picture is the largest study of its kind and was conceived in response to the extremely limited and often poor quality information available relating to substance abuse among the lesbian, gay and bisexual population.

The latest report, publicly launched to coincide with Alcohol Awareness Week (12th - 18th November), focuses specifically on issues of substance dependency and help-seeking behaviour, with the data indicating that the LGB population are more likely to be affected by issues of substance dependency, while at the same time not accessing professional services for support.

Key findings include:

  • Over a quarter of respondents scored as substance dependent

  • Poly-substance users (those who use two or more substances in a typical session) were twice as likely to be substance dependent compared with those who only use one substance.

  • Those who scored as dependent were more likely to have sought some kind of help but were more likely to seek this from more informal sources such as family or the internet than professional services.

  • A third of those who scored as substance dependent would not seek advice, information or treatment even if they were worried about their usage.

For the first time, the report also presents real case studies from three LGB people with a history of alcohol and/or drug use to illuminate some of the reasons why drug and alcohol usage may be a bigger concern among the LGB community.
Dr Caroline Yorston, Policy & Research Officer at The Lesbian & Gay Foundation said: “The people we spoke to illustrated some of the social and emotional reasons why they use substances, such as isolation and depression. We already know these issues disproportionately affect lesbian, gay and bisexual people, so we can start to understand why substance use is higher among this community.”
This is the penultimate report to come out of this research which will be completed at the end of this year.
If you would like to take part in the survey you can at
To download the newly launched Part of the Picture report visit

For more LGBT related stats on a variety of topics such as crime, discrimination and mental health visit our Evidence Exchange.