Date Published: 10 March 2009

UK Charity calls for improved drugs and alcohol support services for gay men

A new report released today by Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and Sigma Research states that more needs to be done to develop effective alcohol and drug support services for gay men. According to the report, ‘Wasted Opportunities’, existing services are poorly equipped to help gay men who have a problematic relationship with drugs or alcohol.

Peter Weatherburn, the Director of Sigma Research, said:

“ The report confirms that problematic drug and alcohol use is very common among gay and bisexual men. One gay man in six (17%) are concerned about their use of alcohol and / or other drugs, with alcohol causing more concern than all the other drugs put together.”

Researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with forty gay men, all of whom were concerned about their use of drugs and/or alcohol, exploring why their substance use had become problematic. Many of the interviewees put their problems down to factors particular to their lives as gay men, such as conflicted feelings about their sexuality or nervousness about how they were perceived on the gay scene.

When interviewees were asked for their views on alcohol and drug support services, the majority said they would prefer any service they used to be gay-run or gay-friendly, often citing the need to feel service providers fully understood their situation. As gay men’s use of alcohol and drugs was often tied in with their use of the gay bar and club scene, it was felt that existing services didn’t meet all their needs. Since honest communication and understanding plays a vital role in dealing with alcohol and drug-related problems, it was felt that gay or gay-friendly services were needed.

Marc Thompson, Deputy Head of Health Promotion for THT said:

It’s clear from these findings that a lot of gay men who have a problem with drugs or alcohol could benefit from more dedicated support services. This could involve training service providers to deal with issues that affect gay men’s lives, or running special sessions for gay men within existing organisations. We hope that by introducing services that are more tailored to gay men, we would see an increase in the numbers of men getting the help they need.”

Source: Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)

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