Drug and alcohol abuse is more prevalent among gay men than the rest of the population, according to a report from the Metropolitan Police Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Advisory Group.
The review began in August 2007 after concerns that more LGBT people in the capital were dying as a result of drug and alcohol misuse than from homophobic violence.
Bob Hodgson, Co-Chair of the LGBT AG, said:
“In the last couple of years over ten deaths in London have been linked to drug overdose or alcohol misuse in the LGBT community, we cannot just continue to think one size fits all for drug and alcohol response, it is time that the specific needs of the LGBT community are addressed.”
The review used online and traditional methods and found that patterns of drug and alcohol use among lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender individuals in London was different from those seen in national population studies.
Dr Justin Varney, author of the report, said:
“This is small snapshot of the challenge facing London.
“The Met and their strategic partners need to grasp the challenge and do something strategic and targeted, crystal is an issue but so is cocaine, ecstasy and alcohol and the brutal truth is that these deaths could be prevented.”
The review made recommendations to the Metropolitan Police including raising the profile of LGBT targeted and accessible support services and working with partners such as NHS London and the London Ambulance services to tackle overdose in club settings.
Just last month a man in his thirties died and two others were admitted to hospital after taking what is believed to be ecstasy.
The full recommendations from the report are:
1. The Metropolitan Police consider how its current strategic approach to drugs and alcohol misuse in London’s LGBT community reflects the distribution and demographics of use.
2. The Metropolitan Police ensure that there are signposting resources available for officers to support the public in accessing LGBT appropriate substance misuse and alcohol support services. For example service promotion cards that could be handed out when cautioning individuals.
3. The Metropolitan Police undertake a regional campaign to raise awareness of LGBT Liaison Officers and their role in the community.
4. The Metropolitan Police work with partners, such as London Ambulance Service and NHS London; to ensure that club venues are engaged with tackling drug misuse and alcohol abuse.
5. The Metropolitan Police should request NHS London to undertake a systematic review and health needs assessment of London’s LGBT communities to ensure that there is a regional network of services appropriate to need and an evidence base available to inform their drug and alcohol work.
6. The Metropolitan Police should work with the National Treatment Agency to undertake a full equity audit of services to better understand the barriers to services and support experienced by LGBT individuals and systematically map accessible services in London to promote to the public.
7. The Metropolitan Police lobby regional partners through the GLA partnership to ensure that London’s LGBT communities needs are specifically addressed in regional drug and alcohol strategies.