Home > “It’s called homophobia baby” exploring LGBTQ + substance use and treatment experiences in the UK.

Murray, Shannon and Holloway, Katy and Buhociu, Marian (2023) “It’s called homophobia baby” exploring LGBTQ + substance use and treatment experiences in the UK. Drugs: Education Prevention and Policy, Early online, https://doi.org/10.1080/09687637.2023.2238118.

External website: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09687...

Introduction: Gender and sexual minority/minoritized groups are at a higher risk of substance misuse and related harm compared to the rest of the population. However, limited research has focused on understanding the extent of these issues and the support needs of all minoritized groups within the LGBTQ + population.


Methods: This qualitative cross-sectional survey sought to explore LGBTQ + individuals’ perspectives on substance use and treatment experiences. Researchers used a manual thematic analysis approach to thoroughly study the data, examining each part closely to uncover themes and patterns. Co-produced with stakeholders and developed with input from LGBTQ + individuals with lived experience, the survey included 38 participants across the UK.


Results: Cannabis (83% n = 20), ecstasy (68% n = 15), and cocaine (67% n = 16) were commonly used substances, while some participants (19% n = 6) reported consuming high levels of alcohol. Many respondents highlighted the role of “stigma” and peer pressure within the LGBTQ + communities as a motivator for substance use. Participants expressed a preference for informal support due to fears of “discrimination” from formal treatment services.


Conclusions: The study underscores the need for research inclusive of all LGBTQ + groups and highlights the importance of tailored interventions that address the diverse needs of LGBTQ + individuals. Further exploration of peer-led interventions is necessary to assess their effectiveness. The findings emphasize the necessity of person-centered treatment approaches that recognize the heterogeneity of service users.

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