Focus Needed on Reducing Harms among LGBTQ+ People Who Use Drugs - LGBTIQ+ Health Australia

Focus Needed on Reducing Harms among LGBTQ+ People Who Use Drugs

LGBTIQ+ Health Australia (LHA) has called for urgent action to reduce harms associated with the use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other sexuality, gender, and bodily diverse people (LGBTQ+), responding to new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2022-2023[1].

“These new data confirm LGBTQ+ people use vapes, tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs at rates two to eight times higher than the broader population,” LHA CEO Nicky Bath said.

“These high rates of substance use represent the risk of harm, and adverse mental health outcomes, which are compounded by the experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse that LGBTQ+ people have experienced and continue to experience.

“These results highlight the need to foster protective factors that promote mental health and wellbeing—such as creating a sense of belonging, establishing support networks and relationships as well as effective harm reduction measures and treatment options.

LHA congratulates the AIHW for collecting data on trans and gender diverse people in the survey for the first time in 2022-2023. LHA encourages the AIHW to ensure that future surveys capture information on intersex people.

“The new information on LGBTQ+ people from this survey reinforces the need for broader data collection about sex, gender, variations of sex characteristics and sexual orientation to better target effective responses to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ populations,” Ms Bath said.

The Australian Bureau of Statistic’s Standard for Sex, Gender, Variation of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation Variables, 2020 ('2020 Standard') provides the ‘gold standard’ for asking these questions.[2]

“There is so much more we need to know to develop targeted and effective responses to support people at risk of harm associated with the use of vapes, tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. With the development of the 10 Year National LGBTIQA+ Health and Wellbeing Action Plan under way, this data can provide much needed critical insights to inform the Plan,” Ms Bath said.

“We see consistently, with subsequent rounds of this survey, elevated levels of risk among LGBTQ+ people. This must drive action to reduce barriers to accessing accurate information, and to safe and appropriate health services, including counselling, peer-driven community social support and targeted LGBTIQ+ community-controlled health and harm reduction initiatives and programs.” Ms Bath said.

Media contact:

Tammy Wayne-Elliot, Fifty Acres | [email protected] | 0414 428 440 

[1] https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/lgbtiq-communities/lgbt-people-alcohol-drugs

[2] https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/standards/standard-sex-gender-variations-sex-characteristics-and-sexual-orientation-variables/2020#introduction

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LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, (formerly the National LGBTI Health Alliance), is the national peak health organisation in Australia for organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs, services and research focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people and other sexuality, gender and bodily diverse (LGBTIQ+) people and communities. Dropping the “+” from our name only occurs within digital formats that do not allow mathematical symbols, such as within our domain name, handles and hashtags.
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