COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more likely to smoke, drink and struggle with psychological distress according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A new study shows about 35 percent of gay or lesbian people, and about 42 percent of bisexual people, claimed to have five or more drinks on one day at least once in 2013. Only 26 percent of people who identified themselves as straight claimed to drink five or more drinks on one day.
The CDC also reported a large percentage of bisexual people struggled with psychological distress.
Mark Scruggs, secretary of Chattahoochee Valley Pride Inc., said he is not surprised by the recent study's results.
"Often times, the LGBT community has a lot of pressure to deal with," Scruggs explained. "They wonder, 'is society going to accept us?' So I could see how a large number of people could turn to drinking and smoking as a relief. I'm not surprised by this."
The researchers explained that the number of people who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual stands small at about two percent, and the number may not be dependable due to many factors. Scruggs agreed.
"The number is probably higher than the study indicates," Scruggs said. "If you ask them if they are gay, bisexual or straight, most people are going to say they are straight. They don't welcome the backlash they could get from the society if they identify themselves as something other than being straight."
Scruggs explained studies like this shows the nation's willingness to understand and work with the LGBT community.
"I know good changes are coming," Scruggs said. "Coming out is not an easy task. It's hard for everybody. However, I see more younger people coming out of the closet nowadays, because education and services are available. And to have an organization like CDC to start doing studies like this shows that many organizations are seeing the need to understand the LGBT community more, and better."
Chattahoochee Valley Pride Inc. is having a grand opening of their new facility on Aug. 2, 2014, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The organization launched in 1999 as Columbus Pride, but the name changed in 2006 due to the growth in the community in Georgia and Alabama.
Chattahoochee Valley Pride Inc. needs volunteers, and the non-profit organization is accepting donations.
Visit their website at www.cvpride.org for more information on how you can help or get involved.