Needs assessment of LGBT substance users in Vancouver & Richmond.
Drug and alcohol use and misuse are priority health issues in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities of Vancouver and Richmond. Yet, these identified priorities have met with the reality that there are few resources dedicated to supporting LGBT people who are concerned about substance misuse or who are pursuing abstinence.i Until recently, no detailed needs assessments or research had been conducted into what LGBT substance users2 perceive their needs to be, how best to address them, and/or how best to support and increase the capacity of individuals and communities regarding substance use issues.
In 2000, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Population Health Advisory Committee (LGBT PHAC)3 invited a diverse group of informed individuals from LGBT communities to a meeting to discuss whether they agreed that substance use and its impact in LGBT communities was an area needing study and, if so, what questions needed to be asked and what methodology should be used to glean the needed data. The participants at that initial meeting decided to form a Substance Use Working Group. The Working group is a partnership between the LGBT PHAC, as a part of the V/RHB; the LGBT Health Association; The Centre: A Community Centre Serving and Supporting Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual People and Their Allies; and community members. The membership in the working group consisted of people who use(d) substances, people who seek and who have achieved abstinence; members of the community at large; service providers, and people with experience in community development and community-based research. Two of the members sat on the LGBT PHAC, one was a staff person with the LGBT PHAC, and the other members were interested individuals and representatives from other organizations. The mandate of the Working Group was to design and conduct a series of consultations, as a detailed, systematic and rigorous evaluative research project, to ascertain our communities’ needs and concerns. Particular efforts were made during the project to ensure that as many parts of LGBT communities as possible were included in this undertaking. As a result many Aboriginal people, people of colour, people with mental, physical and sensory disabilities, sex trade workers, transgendered people and youth members of the community participated in the project.