Statistics Regarding the LGBTIQ Community And Drug Use
The LGB community are more likely than heterosexual Australians to consume alcohol in risky quantities, use illicit drugs and misuse pharmaceuticals. In the 12 months prior to the survey, LGB people were 5.8 times more likely to use ecstasy and meth/amphetamines as heterosexual people, 3.7 times as likely to use cocaine, 3.2 times more likely to use cannabis, and 2.8 times as likely to misuse pharmaceuticals.
Research also indicates that rates of drug misuse and suicidal ideation and suicide are significantly higher among intersex and transgender and gender non-conforming people than heterosexual or LGB populations (National LGBTI Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Strategy^).
Around half of all people who come to Odyssey House to overcome drug dependence (including LGBTIQ people), also have a co-existing mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or PTSD.
It’s a concerning situation that Odyssey House makes a point of addressing in its treatment and recovery services, according to Odyssey House Community Services alcohol and other drugs counsellor Michael Yates (pictured above).
The former high school teacher changed career direction after volunteering in youth and sexual health education with ACON (a leading NSW LGBTI health organisation). Seeing the issues faced by the community he identifies with – and the benefits professional assistance can provide – convinced Michael to train as a counsellor.
He undertook a Graduate Diploma in Counselling before joining Odyssey House in early 2017. As well as working full-time as a counsellor in Odyssey House’s Central and Eastern Sydney Community Services (located in Redfern and Canterbury), Michael is currently studying his Masters in Social Work.
“I find great satisfaction in having a positive impact on people’s lives. I work with all sorts of clients, not just sex and gender diverse people,” Michael says.
“All Odyssey House staff are trained to understand the specific issues facing minority groups, such as discrimination, victimization, bullying, social prejudice, stigma, isolation and family estrangement.
“We bring this cultural competence and sensitivity to the table when counselling individuals or running group sessions, which involve local people from all walks of life and social circumstances who have a common goal to overcome drug dependence.
“Ice (crystal methamphetamine) and alcohol are the principal drugs of concern for many of our clients. GHB, ecstasy, cocaine, cannabis and ketamine are also fairly common among our LGBTIQ clients, sometimes as an episodic or ‘social’ drug, but sometimes it’s their main issue.”
Odyssey House Stall At Sydney Mardi Gras 2018 Fair Day