Study Finds LGBTQ+ Community Faces Serious Barriers to Accessing Alcohol Services

A Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) study on LGBTQ+ people’s experiences with alcohol services examined the opinions of both users and service providers.

Respondents expressed concern that excessive drinking has become the norm among LGBTQ+ people and that there are not enough alcohol-free places in Scotland.

They also identified certain barriers to accessing alcohol services, including concerns about judgment and discrimination, services that are not perceived as LGBTQ+ friendly, and a lack of discussion of sexuality and gender by service providers.

Campaigners say LGBTQ+ people would benefit from having more places to meet without alcohol.

Experts are now calling for action to overcome these barriers and inequalities.

Professor Carol Emsley, who led the study, said: “We know that LGBTQ+ communities are at higher risk of alcohol-related harm, so it is important to learn about their experience with alcohol services in Scotland.

“Our respondents reported that drinking was often a response to discrimination, family rejection, or hiding their LGBTQ+ identity, but service providers rarely investigated how sexuality or gender identity might affect drinking.

“Our report recommends that all staff working in alcohol services receive training on LGBTQ+ diversity, and services should review their inclusiveness to the LGBTQ+ community and tailor their services accordingly.

“More broadly, alcohol-free places for LGBTQ+ people where drinking is not the norm, and greater public acceptance of LGBTQ+ issues will reduce the harms of alcohol in this community.”

The study was funded by the Scottish Health Organization for Alcohol (SHAAP).

David Barbour of Glasgow’s LGBTQI Substance Abuse Partnership said: “A disproportionate number of LGBTQ+ people use alcohol to self-medicate for higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression, often brought on by past or current experiences of homo/bi/transphobia. .”

Elinor Jane, Director of SHAAP, said that given the disproportionate harm that alcohol has to the LGBTQ+ community, it is “urgently” necessary that the needs of LGBTQ+ people be explicitly addressed in the forthcoming Scottish Government Guidelines for the Treatment of Alcoholism “to address these inequalities and reduce the stigma faced by LGBTQ+ people when seeking alcohol treatment services.”

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