“It's called homophobia baby” Exploring LGBTQ+ Substance Use and Treatment Experiences in the UK

Shannon Murray*, Katy Holloway, Marian Buhociu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. Gender and sexual minority/minoritised 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 minoritised 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+ individual 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 emphasise the necessity of person-centered treatment approaches that recognise the heterogeneity of service users.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2238118
Number of pages11
JournalDugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Issue number00
Early online date25 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jul 2023


  • alcohol
  • drugs
  • gender
  • sexual identity
  • treatment
  • support


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