NSW’s leading LGBTI health organisation, ACON, is calling for a coordinated and unified response to the use of crystal meth in the community and for more resources to expand and strengthen its drug and alcohol programs.

A forum will be held on Tuesday night to examine crystal use in the community, which will include presentations from experts and provide participants with the opportunity to discuss issues and concerns in a Q&A session.

ACON chief executive Nicolas Parkhill, said: “Recent data from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey Report indicates that in a 12 month period in 2013, the use of illicit drugs was far more common among people who identified as being homosexual or bisexual than people who were heterosexual — and illicit drug use was more common than smoking and drinking alcohol among this population group.

‘The largest differences in use among homosexual/bisexual people were in the use of ecstasy and meth/amphetamines; this was 5.8 times and 4.5 times more likely than heterosexual people.” (see table below)

“We also know from data out of the Sydney Gay Community Survey that there are differences amongst use between HIV-negative and HIV-positive gay men and that crystal use has been increasing amongst both positive and negative men.

“This is why it is absolutely critical we come together as a community to discuss what this means for us and how we can collectively and individually respond to the issues. If you, or anybody you know, are experiencing substance use issues we would encourage you to get in touch or come to the forum.”

The forum is expected to provide the latest information on how crystal use is affecting the community, such as changes in crystal use; how crystal use impacts HIV; the realities of what’s being reported in the media; what’s being done to address these issues; effective harm reduction strategies; and more.

A recent independent analysis of data from ACON’s federally-funded, Substance Support Service found that when people access this service it resulted in reductions in substance dependence and days of use, reduced psychological distress and improved quality of life measures.

ACON also recently released a new multimedia campaign targeting crystal users in the LGBTI community. The campaign, Stimulant Health Check Up encourages crystal users to engage with health services and be informed about what they can do to reduce the potential physical, social and mental harms associated with their use.

Visit stimcheck.org.au for information, advice and referral information to LGBTI inclusive services.

Forum details:

WHAT: To the Point — a forum on crystal methamphetamine and the LGBTI community

WHEN: Tuesday, December 9 at 7.30pm

WHERE: Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre, 405 Crown St, Surry Hills

Extract from the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey Report:

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