Part of the Picture - LGB people's drug and alcohol use in England

The Part of the Picture (POTP) research project was a five-year partnership between The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), funded by the Big Lottery Fund's research programme between 2009-2014.

POTP had three main aims:

  • The establishment of an England-wide database of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people’s drug and alcohol use.
  • The use of the database to directly inform local and national policy and practice in addressing the drug and alcohol use of LGB people.
  • An improved knowledge and understanding of the needs of LGB drug and alcohol users amongst drug and alcohol agencies, through dissemination of the research findings.

The study found evidence of significant problematic substance use among the LGB community:

  • Across all age groups LGB people are much more likely to use drugs than the general population.
  • Problematic patterns of drinking are much more common among LGB people.
  • LGB people demonstrate a higher likelihood of being substance dependent and show high levels of substance dependency.
  • Those scoring as substance dependent are more likely to seek help, although from informal sources rather than specialist services.
  • A third of respondents who scored as substance dependent would not seek information, advice or treatment, even if they were worried about their drug or alcohol use.
  • LGB people may be more vulnerable to developing dependent and problematic relationships with drugs and alcohol.
  • Significant barriers exist to seeking information, advice or help among LGB people.

A suite of reports present the study’s findings and detail the methodology and sample. Briefing sheets set out recommendations for commissioners and policy makers, GPs, drug and alcohol service providers, researchers, and the LGBT voluntary and community sector to tackle this significant public health issue. These are available to download below and from the menu bar on the left.

For further information about the project, its findings and recommendations, please email


Briefing sheets 2014

Briefing sheet: Commissioners and policy makers
Commissioners and policy makers

Briefing sheet: GPs

Briefing sheet: Researchers

Briefing sheet: Service Providers
Service Providers

Briefing sheet: VCS


potp 2009-11 report spread
LGB people’s alcohol & drug use in England (2012)

potp action plan spread
Action Plan (2012)

Substance dependency
Substance dependency & help-seeking behaviour (2013)


POTP case studies general
Case studies (2013)

POTP case studies accessing help
Case studies: accessing help (2014)