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Keywords:

  • alcohol and drug;
  • gay lesbian bisexual transgender;
  • youth;
  • homophobia

Abstract

Introduction and Aims

Research highlights that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people use alcohol and drugs (AOD) more than heterosexual people; however, the incidence of AOD use by LGBT youth is less understood. The purpose of the current study was to ascertain AOD prevalence rates for LGBT youth compared with the Australian youth population; perceptions of AOD use within the LGBT community; and the impact of homophobia on AOD use.

Design and Methods

The study surveyed a cross-sectional sample of LGBT youth (13–24 years) (n = 161) who attended a LGBT festival in Brisbane, Australia, in 2012. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption, Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence and Drug Check Assessment Tool were utilised to examine patterns of AOD use, with items developed to explore perceptions of AOD use and homophobia.

Results

AOD use was common among the LGBT sample, with higher prevalence rates compared with the general Australian youth population (2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey). AOD use by under 18-year-olds, and gender diverse youth was markedly higher. The majority misperceived AOD use to be the same in the LGBT and heterosexual communities. Those who believed homophobia impacted on AOD use were significantly more likely to use AOD.

Discussion and Conclusions

The higher prevalence of AOD use strongly suggests the need for AOD agencies to better respond to LGBT youth by not only screening sexuality and gender identity but also exploring young people's perceptions of AOD use in the LGBT community and their experiences of homophobia in order to provide effective AOD clinical treatment. [Kelly J, Davis C, Schlesinger C. Substance use by same sex attracted young people: Prevalence, perceptions and homophobia. Drug Alcohol Rev 2015;34:358–365]