LGBT Illicit Drug Use Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

LGBT Drinking & Drug Use

This report will center on a particular concern and challenge that is facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as a whole. The affliction is certainly not limited to the LGBT community but this report shall focus on the unique traits and patterns that occur within that community. Of course, that affliction would be the excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs among people that identify with one or more of the LGBT groups. To be sure, the abuse of alcohol, methamphetamine, MDMA/Ecstasy, prescription pills in general and other drugs is a plague that affects many communities and cultures and the LGBT culture is certainly on different. What follows in this report will be a fairly concise yet thorough literature review on the subject. While drug abuse and misuse is not unique to the LGBT community is not unique to the LGBT community, it certainly presents its own iterations of social and cultural problems when the use of the drugs runs amok.


The use and abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs starts early when it comes to all of the groups that suffer from it and the LGBT is certainly no exception. Indeed, it has been found that even high school-age LGBT peoples are engaging in drug use and abuse and there is thus a focus on reducing the risks and effects that can be rendered when this abuse starts this early. Indeed, the minds and behavioral patterns of children are still evolving and forming even in the high school years and the use of drugs (especially to excess) can levy a huge influence (usually a bad one) on those behaviors and patterns. This can include risky sexual habits include sharing of needs, sex with no protection and so forth. One major way to help keep these negative tendencies down is to have a Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) group at the high school. It has been found that schools with such a group often see much lower rates of illicit drug use, alcohol abuse and even smoking of cigarettes. Apparently, one of the more prevalent patterns of misuse and abuse when it comes to drugs and the LGBT community or even the high school community in general would be the ADHD drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. Even so, the increased amount of camaraderie and socialization that tends to occur in GSA groups leads to less use and abuse of drugs in a high school age group, LGBT or not. The conclusions above were not came to lightly as there were a total of twelve regression analyses done and they all pretty much came to the same overall outcome and conclusion (Heck).

Some other authors have centered on the relationship between certain types of drug use and sexual minorities (i.e. LGBT, etc.) and one particular study centered on smoking and whether there might be a correlation between those that try smoking and those that end up trying more risky drugs, as least as compared to those that do not smoke. Bowers looked at a cross-sectional allotment of data that included nearly three hundred lesbian, gays, transgender and questioning people. They were given a survey about their health risk behaviors. The responses were gleaned from an online survey and were completely anonymous in nature so as to encourage open and honest responses. Overall, about seventy-two percent of the respondents admitted to trying cigarettes but only forty-two percent of the overall group admitted to smoking within the last month. These people were then assessed based on whether they used illicit drugs. For the purpose of the study, these illicit drugs included cocaine, marijuana, inhalants, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, painkillers (e.g. Vicodin, Oxycontin, etc.) and the like. The overall age group of the sample was thirteen to twenty-two years old. Of the illicit drugs named, those who used cigarettes were more likely to use cocaine, painkillers, marijuana and inhalants that those that had not tried or otherwise engaged in smoking. The prevalence was so severe that Bowers and her colleagues assert that intervention and educational measures be constructed that specifically target the LGBT group (Bowers).

Another study focused on the differences between LGBT peoples and non-LGBT peoples when it comes to how they are first "initiated" into the drug use scene and practice. The study specifically looked at populations in the Los Angles and New York areas. The drug of choice, however, was limited to illegally obtained and/or improperly used prescription drug medication like painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and the like. When looking at sexual minorities in particular, a few distinct findings came to light. After assessing LGBT people in New York and Los Angeles from 2009 to 2011, it was found that sexual minority youth were more likely to be involved with prescription opioid abuse as well as tranquilizers. Further, they were more likely to report childhood abuse than heterosexual youth. It was also found that the first drug used or abused had a lot to do with what happened down the road. Further, the study asserts that nailing down those initiating factors and patterns is critical to designing interventions and treatments that are effective, long-lasting and enduring over time (Kecojevic).

Speaking of childhood abuse, as mentioned in part in the prior paragraph, trauma has been found to be a major catalyst when it comes to drug abuse among lesbian, gay and bisexual adolescents. Given that the prior study indicated that LGBT teens are more likely to be from an abusive household, this would seem to indicate that abuse (or any other trauma) could thus cause or at least encourage someone to be abusive of drugs. Of course, other upbringing and other environment factors matter as well but the abuse marker would seem to be a major precursor for a lot of LGBT people that end up later abusing drugs. Further, it would seem that a lot of the traumatic events can be correlated to sexual identity crises and feelings that are experienced by the LGBT teens. However, the research is not exactly clear-cut when it comes to this overall conclusion. Indeed, it has been found that the correlation between abuse and drug use among LGBT teens is not consistent in all studies and the authors of the study reviewed for this report admit that further research should be completed so as to truly nail down whether a linkage exists or not (Goldbach).

To add some international flair and flavor to this literature review, a study about the general subject of this report was actually done in Sydney, Australia. The overall subject and target of that study was the use of alcohol and drugs, especially in a club scene, among lesbians, gays and bisexuals in Sydney. Some of the drug use involved and found in this study is especially risky because it involves one or more drugs that are injected. Indeed, sharing of needles can lead to the transmission of diseases like HIV. This is especially troublesome give people in the LGBT are among the high-risk groups when it comes to HIV and AIDS. Of the survey group for the Sydney study, nearly three fourths reported dangerous alcohol use while within the club scene. Nearly a third (29%) had used other illicit drugs besides alcohol in the club scene within the last half a year. Also extremely troublesome is that roughly one half of all people that had used methamphetamine in the last six-month were now reporting dependence issues relating to the drug. The overall findings of the Lea study include that there were very high rates of alcohol abuse and drug use in the club scene conjoined with the fact that there is a heavy under-utilization of alcohol and other drug treatment options including out-patient rehabilitation, in-patient rehabilitation and other medical assistance. Overall, it is found that people attracted to the same sex (referred to in Sydney as same-sex attracted young people ... or SSAY) are particularly at high risk for alcohol and drug-related harm (Lea).

Even with all the bad news that exists per the above and a litany of other scholarly research on the subject, the news is not all bad. Similar to a prior study, the point of analysis for one study that backs up this assertion is New York City. The time horizon is also similar to the prior study, being that it ran from 2002 to 2007. The study subjects for this report were sexual minority men, so this would include gay men, bisexual men and transgender men. Some of the good news that was found over that time period is that the overall use of ecstasy, ketamine and y-hydroxybutyrate (GHB ... the "date rape" drug) had fallen over those five years. Crystal methamphetamine spiked up for a time but also fell over those five years. However, cocaine and amyl nitrates was consistent over all five years. One troubling sign in the results was that HIV-positive men were reporting more drug use in the recent years of the study and this was stark…

Sources Used in Document:


Bowers, Pamela Hancock, N. Eugene Walls, and Hope Wisneski. "The Relationship Between

Smoking And Other Drug Use Among Sexual Minority Youth." Journal Of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 27.1 (2015): 86-99. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 30 Sept.


Goldbach, Jeremy, Benjamin W. Fisher, and Shannon Dunlap. "Traumatic Experiences And Drug Use By LGB Adolescents: A Critical Review Of Minority Stress." Journal Of Social Work Practice In The Addictions 15.1 (2015): 90-113. SocINDEX with Full Text.

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