LGBT Scots drink “heavily” when they first come out and are expected to consume more alcohol in the gay scene, a study has found.

A team from Glasgow Caledonian University was commissioned to investigate the role of alcohol in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP).

Survey participants described drinking heavily when they revealed their sexual or gender identity and encountered the commercial gay scene.

Many said there was an “expectation that they would continue to drink more heavily on this scene” than anywhere else as they grew older.

Meanwhile, participants also said a perceived lack of support by peers and alcohol services create barriers which stop LGBT people seeking help for drink problems.

The team said: “These findings have implications for diversity training among health professionals, the need for alternative sources of support for LGBT people with drinking problems, and the need for health promotion around alcohol on the commercial gay scene and to wider LGBT communities.

“The research suggests that future work should focus on how alcohol companies are marketing their products to the LGBT community both locally in venues, and nationally and internationally using social and traditional media.

“As within Scottish society as a whole, it is important to provide an awareness of alternatives to the automatic assumption that heavy drinking is the norm and to highlight the possibility of changing drinking cultures.”

The findings will be presented at the Scottish Parliament next week.

Lead researcher Dr Carol Emslie said: “Drinking is central to the commercial gay scene and the alcohol industry is increasingly marketing their products directly to LGBT consumers.

“We need to make sure there are more places in Scotland where LGBT people can meet to socialise without alcohol, as well as working towards a culture where all groups in society find it acceptable to drink moderately, or indeed to choose not to drink at all.”

Meanwhile, SHAAP director Eric Carlin said: “LGBT people are as susceptible to getting into problems with alcohol as anyone else.

“However, this study shows that many LGBT people still feel stigmatised and support services can feel intimidating.

“Hopefully, this report will provide useful insights to reduce barriers to LGBT people accessing support.”