LGBTQ Community and Addiction
The LGBTQ Community’s rates of drug abuse are significantly higher than that of other groups. Some of the pressures of society, discrimination as well as co-occurring disorders just breach the surface of reasoning when it comes to triggering drug abuse and addiction within the LGBTQ Community.
Addiction in the LGBTQ Community
LGBTQ Community members (“LGBTQ” is an abbreviation that originated in the 1990s and replaced what was formerly known as “the gay community.” The abbreviation was created to be more inclusive of diverse groups. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (and/or questioning) individuals/identities.) face several challenges which contribute to a high rate of addiction.
20-30% of the LGBTQ community abuses illicit substances, in comparison to approximately 9% of the general population abuse illicit substances leaving the LGBTQ community with a substantially higher rate of addiction and alcoholism than other communities.
TLGBTQ rehab programs are extremely sensitive to the needs of these individuals and also address the underlying issues that have led to their addiction or alcoholism. The underlying issues or root causes of their addiction is of monumental importance when treating an LGBTQ community member for drug addiction and alcoholism within a rehabilitation center.
LGBTQ and Challenges to the Community as a Whole
Compared to the general population drug addiction and alcoholism is at a disproportionate rate within the LGBTQ community. This is due in large part to the challenges they face within our society daily. Most who identify as heterosexual typically won’t face the pressure a Gay Man or Woman may face.
Just breaching the surface of challenges here are a few:
- Their sexual orientations stigmatization and discrimination
- Ridicule, public humiliation, threats, emotional or physical abuse and hate crimes.
- Rejection from friends and family.
- Work related discrimination and lack of equal opportunity.
- Self-hatred or internalized homophobia.
Very often, LGBTQ individuals will turn to the abuse of drugs or alcohol as a way to numb themselves from the feeling produced by prejudice they have to face in today’s society. Drugs and Alcohol and other illicit substances can numb the feelings of depression, fear, anxiety or fear.
The LGBTQ Communities Common Co-Occurring Disorders
Many within the community are either unaware they’re gay or lesbian or in the closet (hiding it) from their friends and family which causes a great deal of pressure for the individual. Living in the closet or hiding it, puts a lot of pressure on an individual. Many lead double lives for fear of rejection and judgment instead of coming “out of the closet.” Keeping your sexual identity quiet is a huge toll on a person’s psyche which could lead to emotional and mental disorders.
The LGBTQ community’s common psychological and emotional disorders include:
On top of the challenges of society they face, a gay, lesbian or LGBTQ community member may experience physical or health problems that relate to their sexuality.
These can cause addiction or alcoholism and may include:
- Compulsive Sexual Behavior
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sexual or HIV related anxiety
- Sexual Abuse or Assault
A large amount of LGBTQ individuals have co-occurring mental and sexual abuse disorder which leads to a drug abuse problem or perpetuates the abuse of drugs and alcohol. When a LGBTQ member is considering treatment options for drug addiction or alcoholism rehab, their comprehensive treatment plan should include addressing co-occurring disorders to give an ample opportunity to recover from addiction and alcoholism.
The Most Popular Drugs Used in the LGBTQ Community
There are several addictive substances used by the community, but these are the most common:
Transgender and Gay individuals use tobacco almost 200 % more than those who identify as heterosexual.
20-25% of the LGBTQ community have higher tendencies of Alcohol Abuse to Alcoholism.
Gay men are 3 and ½ times more likely to use marijuana than straight males.
Members of the LGBTQ community are 12 and ½ times more likely to use amphetamines.
LGBTQ individuals are 9 and ½ times more likely to use heroin than heterosexuals.
LGBTQ Community Treatment Centers
Due to the lack of resources available to the community LGBTQ members are hesitant in receiving treatment for addiction and alcoholism. A gay or trans-sexual person must seek a drug and alcohol rehab that will accommodate them with an individualized treatment plan.
There are several rehab programs around the country that focus on the isolation that members of the gay and trans-sexual community face in today’s world. These rehab programs also focus on the “closeted” lifestyle that Gay and Trans-Sexual members of the LGBTQ community face to overcome the adversity and avoid discrimination.
LGBTQ-specific rehabilitation centers help isolate and treat any co-occurring mental health disorders, which accommodates long-term recovery. Without treating the underlying issues of the addiction or alcoholism, one doesn’t stand a very good chance of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
The Help You Need is Here
The Gay, Trans-Sexual and other LGBTQ community members rate of addiction and alcoholism is very concerning. The challenges they face daily are very hard to cope with which contributes to drug and alcohol addiction.
By entering a drug and alcohol rehab program that specializes in LGBTQ addiction treatment and care, you will feel like a majority rather than a minority. You will be surrounded by people that will provide encouragement and support.
If you or your family is struggling with alcoholism or addiction, please reach out and ask for help.
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- Dual Diagnosis. (2016). Treatment for Members of the LGBT Community. Retrieved on February 25, 2016, from: http://www.dualdiagnosis.org/addiction-treatment/lgbt-community/
- Pride-Institute. (2016). Pride Institute. Retrieved on February 25, 2016, from: http://pride-institute.com/about/
- Hazelden Betty Ford. (2016). LGBTQ-Integrative Addiction Treatment. Retrieved on February 25, 2016, from: http://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/treatment/addiction-treatment-specialties/lgbtq
- Futures of Palm Beach. (2016). Addiction in the LGBTQ Community. Retrieved on February 25, 2016, from: http://www.futuresofpalmbeach.com/addiction-treatment/lgbtq-community/
- American Progress. (2012). Why the Gay and Transgender Population Experiences Higher Rates of Substance Use: Many Use to Cope with Discrimination and Prejudice. Retrieved on February 25, 2016, from: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/report/2012/03/09/11228/why-the-gay-and-transgender-population-experiences-higher-rates-of-substance-use/
About the Writer, Peter D.
Peter Dimaira is the online researcher and writer for Bright Futures Recovery Center. Peter has years of experience in journalism and joined the Bright Futures team to spread awareness about addiction, alcoholism and provide better resources on the treatment of drugs and alcohol.