In shops and supermarkets across Scotland this week, the cost of some alcoholic drinks will be increasing as the Scottish Government’s minimum pricing policy comes into effect.
The change is headline news, and the latest example of how Scotland’s relationship with alcohol often hits the front pages. What is less often reported is the disproportionate impact that drinking has on gay and bisexual men.
Back in 2016, a comprehensive study on the health and wellbeing of gay and bisexual men found that the drinking habits of four in 10 could be described as hazardous – almost double the figure for the population as a whole.
The reasons for this discrepancy are complex, tied to health inequalities around issues like mental health and the discrimination that gay and bisexual men continue to face.
In an effort to better understand the community’s relationship with alcohol, we recently launched a dedicated project looking at reducing alcohol harm among gay and bisexual men in Lothian.
As part of this, we’re looking to organise a series of events and focus groups to find out more about the role alcohol plays in men’s lives – particularly around issues like self-confidence and negotiating sex. We’re looking to run a second round of peer research through the Our Voice project, encouraging volunteers within the community to talk to their friends and peers about alcohol use and explore the issue through photography. We’re also starting to offer more specific information about alcohol as part of the support we provide to guys who come to us to access testing and other services.
These initiatives are on top of the existing one-to-one support that SX can already offer to men who are concerned about their alcohol use and how this is affecting their health and wellbeing.
The findings from all of this work will help to underpin partnership work with the commercial gay scene and local alcohol and drug partnerships to ensure support is available.
It’s not about telling people not to drink – it’s about supporting men to know the facts and to know that support is on hand through SX if they need it.
If you’d like to get involved in this work through events and research, get in touch with email@example.com to find out more.
In the meantime, here‘s a powerful example of the damaging impact that alcohol has on some men’s lives.