Studies have shown that, when compared with the general population, gay and bisexual men, lesbian, and transgender individuals are more likely to:
- Use alcohol and drugs,
- Have higher rates of substance abuse,
- Not withhold from alcohol and drug use, and
- Continue heavy drinking into later life.
Alcohol and drug use among some gay and bisexual men can be a reaction to homophobia, discrimination, or violence they experienced due to their sexual orientation and can contribute to other mental health and physical problems. It can disrupt relationships, employment, and threaten financial stability.
For some gay and bisexual men, alcohol and illegal drug use, especially methamphetamines (meth), amyl nitrates (poppers), and drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction (when a man has a hard time keeping an erection during sex), also contribute to a higher chance of getting HIV and other STDs. Persons using drugs or alcohol may also raise their chances of getting HIV or giving it to others by getting involved in more risky sexual practices and behaviors or through sharing needles or other injection equipment.
If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol or drug addiction and needs help, go to Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locatorexternal icon or call 800-662-Help (4357).
Ostrow, D.G. Stall, R. (2008) Alcohol, tobacco, and drug use among gay and bisexual men. In Wolitski, R.J., Stall, R., Valdiserri, R.O., Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press.
- A Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individualsexternal icon (SAMHSA)
- Drugs, Brains and Behavior–The Science of Addictionexternal icon (NIDA)
- Commonly Abused Drugs and Prescription Medicationsexternal icon (NIDA)
- Medical Consequences of Drug Abuseexternal icon (NIDA)
- Persons Who Use Drugs (CDC)