New report reveals impact of substance use on LGB young people

Graham Robson October 5, 2022

The Mix, a charity that provides free, confidential support for young people under 25 via online, social and mobile, has released a new report which looks at how young LGB people are impacted by substance use, and reveals how LGB communities are more likely to experience mental health challenges with substance use.

The Mix report aims to understand how widespread the use of substances causing addiction is, from alcohol, tobacco/cigarettes and vaping to drug use. The Mix carried out a similar survey a year ago in August 2021. Results from both surveys are compared, where practical, to better understand changes in substance use, motivations for substance use, challenges experienced with substance use, barriers to accessing support and improvements needed to encourage more young people to access support.

The report found that: 
  • Gay or lesbian (36%) and bisexual young people (36%) were more likely to have used an illegal drug in past 12 months than heterosexuals (32%).
  • Bisexual young people (29%) are far more likely to smoke than heterosexuals (21%) or gay or lesbian young people (24%).
  • With regards to gender, those who are non-binary (31%), and males (26%) were the most likely to have used an illegal drug within a month before the survey; this compares to 19% among females.
  • Over 1 in 4 (28%) of bisexual substance users told The Mix they used substances to escape life’s problems, compared to 19% among heterosexuals.
  • Bisexual (19%) and gay or lesbian substance users (18%) are also more likely than heterosexual substance users (12%) to use substances as a habit, suggesting that young people in this community are more vulnerable to developing substance use challenges, such as addiction.
  • While 1 in 3 (33%) of bisexual young people who used substances used them to help them cope with mental health issues or emotional distress, only 17% of heterosexual substance users used substances for this reason.
  • Gay or lesbian (16%) or bisexual (11%) young people are far more likely to use antidepressants outside of prescription than heterosexuals (6%).
  • Bisexual young people have the highest proportion of alcohol consumption within the past year (76%) compared to gay or lesbian young people (67%) and heterosexual young people (64%).
  • While 1 in 5 (20%) heterosexual substance users experienced mental health challenges due to substance use, this increased to 1 in 3 among gay or lesbian (34%) or bisexual (31%) substance users.
  • Bisexual young people were the most likely to agree that stigma would prevent them from seeking support (57%).

Data was collected by Opinium3, on behalf of The Mix. The research was carried out online in July 2022 and The Mix surveyed a total of 2,000 young people aged 16 to 25 years.

The Mix provides free, confidential non-judgemental and anonymous support for young people across the UK and encourages young people to seek and access support to help them deal with their life challenges or mental health and emotional issues early, before they grow into larger problems or escalate into a crisis.

To see the full report, CLICK HERE