Published: April 12, 2024 by Chal Zon

Many LGBTQ+ people struggle with drug and alcohol misuse. 1 in 6 LGBT people drink alcohol every day, but only 1 in 10 in the general population drinks alcohol five or more days a week. LGB adults are around 4 times more likely to have taken Class A drugs in the last year compared with heterosexual adults. The causes of such high rates of substance misuse in the LGBTQ+ community are complicated. For many, the easiest way to associate with other LGBTQ+ people is in bars and clubs, and dangerous drug use during chemsex is on the rise. Rising anti-LGBTQ+ prejudice in the UK can have an impact on our mental health, and LGBTQ+ people are already much more likely to suffer from emotional or psychological issues. These issues often worsen as we try to cope over winter. It’s easy to turn to substance use to self-medicate, but much harder to cut out the habit.

Drug and alcohol misuse has drastic physical, mental, and social consequences. In the short-term, substance misuse can lead to injuries, violence and antisocial behaviour, unsafe sex, and can impact your education or work. Long-term misuse of drugs or alcohol can change your brain chemistry, causing neurological issues. It can cause major organ damage and lead to life-threatening cancer.

How can I access understanding, identity-affirming support?

Substance misuse can affect every part of your life, from employment to relationships and beyond. Sadly, LGBTQ+ people rarely reach out for support until crisis point for fear of mistreatment by healthcare providers. But there are loads of LGBTQ+-led and affirming recovery support out there, from peer groups to LGBTQ+-specific recovery programmes. No-one blooms in isolation – the best place to start your recovery is in community with others who share your experience. Find out what support is out there in the list below.

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