Substance Use

By Dr Ruth McNair. Updated 13th October 2014

More lesbian, bisexual and queer women than heterosexual women use illicit drugs, smoke and drink harmful amounts of alcohol. One reason for this is that some women are using these substances to help overcome the stress of living with homophobia. Another reason is that substance use at lesbian and bisexual social events and venues is very common. LBQ women can access support from each other and from health care providers to find healthier methods for reducing stress and finding substance-free recreation.

Alcohol use can be especially problematic for some LBQ women. More lesbian and bisexual women drink at harmful levels than heterosexual women in Australia, and LBQ women have their first drink at a younger age than heterosexual women. For example, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has recommended that adults drink no more than two standard drinks on any single day.IN a national drug survey, 73% of lesbian and bisexual women had more than two drinks per day compared with 61% heterosexual women.

More LBQ women smoke (around 35%) compared with heterosexual women (around 16%).

Resources and information:

A factsheet “Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Use in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Communities”:


Alcoholics Anonymous Gay and Lesbian Meetings Melbourne


Victorian Aids Council Support group for same sex attracted women


Information about specific treatment for LGBT people from the Pride Institute in UK:

Australian Drug Foundation

Quit smoking information

Direct Line
Phone counselling and advice 24 hours per day.
Phone: 1800 888 236

Turning Point
A public health care service in Melbourne dedicated to drug and alcohol issues.
54–62 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 3065
Phone: 03 8413 8413