Wasted opportunities: Problematic alcohol and drug use among gay men and bisexual men

Keogh, Peter; Reid, David; Bourne, Adam and Weatherburn, Peter (2009). Wasted opportunities: Problematic alcohol and drug use among gay men and bisexual men. Sigma Research, London.

URL: http://sigmaresearch.org.uk/files/report2009c.pdf


This report describes the findings from a qualitative and quantitative study of alcohol and drug use among gay and bisexual men and other men that have sex with men (MSM) in England. The qualitative element describes the experiences and understandings of men who identified themselves as being concerned about their alcohol or drug use. The quantitative element shows the broader picture of use and concern about use among MSM. So we go from a broad picture of the extent of alcohol and drug use and concern about it, to a narrower and more detailed focus on men experiencing concern and problems related to alcohol and drug use.

The aims of the study are to qualitatively explore the contexts and attendant needs of men who are concerned about their substance use, to locate that use within the broader MSM population and to suggest ways in which the drug-related needs of MSM might be better met. So we have specifically recruited men who were concerned about their substance use and investigated the way these men used drugs and alcohol, what drugs and alcohol mean to them and the harms caused by drugs and alcohol. Many men, perhaps the majority, use alcohol and other drugs without any mishap or unhappiness. However, the range of experiences described highlight the pervasive and often detrimental role that alcohol and other drugs play in the social and personal lives of many men.

Although there is some research which examines the effects of substance use treatments on sexual risk behaviour (that is, do drugs services reduce unsafe sex), there is little or no research which investigates the accessibility, acceptability or effectiveness of current substance use services for gay men and other MSM. So in the qualitative interviews we also sought information about the role services played in meeting drug-related needs, for example information, motivational and practical support.

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