LBGTQ Addiction: Understanding Substance Abuse in Sexual Minorities
Did you know there’s one group that experiences higher rates of substance abuse than any other sexual minorities? The LGBTQ+ community.
This means that LGBTQ+ individuals are at greater risk for addiction than their heterosexual or cisgender peers. Studies have shown that 44% of LGBTQ+ adults have used drugs in their lifetime compared to just 17% of straight men. That’s a huge difference!
Let’s dive into LGTBQ substance abuse.
What Is Substance Abuse?
Substance abuse refers to the use of alcohol or drugs that causes problems in a person’s life. These substances can include highly addictive substances like heroin, cocaine, and prescription painkillers; or recreational drugs like marijuana and ecstasy. Substance abuse is not limited to illegal substances; it also includes over-the-counter medications, such as sleeping pills and cough syrup with codeine.
Substance abuse is often a symptom of an underlying mental health issue such as depression or anxiety. If you’re struggling with substance abuse, it’s important to seek help from a qualified professional who can help you manage your symptoms effectively so that they don’t interfere with your daily life any more than they already do.
The History of Substance Abuse
The history of substance abuse is not a relatively recent phenomenon. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug use has been documented as far back as ancient times.
However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that we began to see widespread abuse of drugs like cocaine and heroin. Today, more than 35 million people in the world suffer from drug disorders. This includes those who are affected by substance abuse disorders involving alcohol, opioids, or cocaine.
A History of Substance Abuse and the LGBTQ+ Community
The LGBTQ+ community has a long history of substance abuse. It’s been shown that for many people who identify as part of the community, there is a higher likelihood of their use beginning at an earlier age than others.
While this may seem counterintuitive, the reasons behind it are pretty simple. LGBTQ+ people were often kicked out of their homes or forced to leave because they didn’t fit in with society. This led to many feeling isolated and vulnerable. Substance misuse was often used as a coping mechanism.
Why Do People Abuse Substances?
The answer is complicated it’s not just one thing such as peer pressure or family dynamics that cause an individual to become addicted to a substance. Instead, there are many factors involved.
However, one common thread among those who struggle with addiction is low self-esteem or other mental health issues that they feel they can’t cope with on their own (e.g., depression). In addition, there may be a genetic link. Research shows that if one of your parents was addicted, you might become addicted too!
LGBTQ+ and Addiction in the Community
Now, let’s take a look at how LGBTQ+ people experience addiction and substance abuse. This can be a complicated issue to address. This is because many factors contribute to the problem.
Some communities may have particular issues with alcohol or drug addiction. This is due to the stressors that come from living in an intolerant society. For example, gay men are three times more likely than straight men to drink excessively. They will then become addicted, according to research done by Stanford University School of Medicine and VA Palo Alto Health Care System researchers.
Coming out can also be a stressful experience for many LGBTQ+ people. This could lead some members of this community towards developing alcohol or drug dependence problems.
This is in order to cope with what they’re going through. According to another study by Stanford University School of Medicine and VA Palo Alto Health Care System researchers, 26% of gay men said they had used drugs to escape their daily lives compared with only 13% of straight men who reported doing so.”
LGBTQ+ People Have Unique Struggles That Can Lead To Addiction
If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s no secret that you’ve likely experienced some discrimination. Whether it’s due to a lack of acceptance from family or friends, or even physical violence and abuse, the challenges that come with being part of this group including addiction can be overwhelming.
It’s important to remember that addiction is not a choice; it’s a disease that can be managed with treatment and support
LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. This is because they may turn to substances as an escape from challenges they face in their daily lives.
LGBTQ+ individuals are also more prone to developing mental health problems. These include depression and anxiety due to discrimination they’ve experienced throughout their lives (as well as further discrimination when seeking treatment).
Why Are LGBTQ+ Individuals More Likely to Abuse Drugs or Alcohol?
Alcohol and drug abuse is a problem in the LGBTQ community, and not just because of a desire for escapism. The reasons for this are many, but they all come down to one thing: discrimination, stigma, and lack of support.
Because of this discrimination, LGBTQ individuals are more likely to experience mental health issues like depression or anxiety. Because of this stigma, many don’t seek help for those issues until it’s too late.
They also lack available resources (whether in person or online). These individuals must rely on each other for support. Once they have a group around them who understands what they’re going through it becomes easier to open up. It’s much better than if they had no one else with whom they could relate.
As you can imagine then that when any one member of your group starts abusing drugs or alcohol as an escape from their problems you’re going to be more tempted by these substances as well.
In fact, given how close-knit most LGBTQ groups tend toward being (think drag queen cabarets or leather bars), there’s even greater pressure on each member to stand out. They must also fit into whatever role he/she has been assigned within that particular subculture
How To Get Help if You Struggle With Addiction
If you’re struggling with addiction, it’s essential that you seek help from a professional and get treatment. A great center can connect you to resources and provide tools for long-term success. You may also find benefits in joining a support group or community. Here you’ll find others are facing similar struggles and challenges as you.
If LGBTQ+-friendly therapists are unavailable in your area or cost too much money, consider seeking out resources online. Remember there’s a host of therapy available today to suit personal interests, even music therapy.
Online communities like Reddit offer an array of support groups. These are aimed at helping individuals address mental health problems such as substance use disorder (SUD).
If possible, it’s best if the therapist who treats you is either LGBTQ+ affirmative or even part of the community themselves.
Many Members of the LGBTQ Community Struggle With These Issues
Many members of the LGBTQ community struggle with substance abuse issues.
According to the study previously mentioned, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are more likely to use substances than those who identify as heterosexual. This is because they may be at higher risk for mental health problems like depression or anxiety. These conditions can lead some people to seek comfort through drugs or alcohol.
Alcoholism Screening Tool for Adolescents (ASTAs)
The ASTAs is a screening tool used by professionals working with teens aged 12-17 years old who have a parent that has an alcohol problem. Or perhaps they are suspected of having one themselves (source).
It’s considered an effective tool for treating substance use disorders. This is because it accurately identifies adolescents who need intervention from specialists when needed most early intervention is key.
The Future Is Bright
Although there is still a long way to go, the world is changing for the better. Many countries including the developing world are now legalizing gay marriage and gay adoption.
Gay pride marches are also the norm and are an accepted part of most big cities in the developed world. With these developments, it’s clear the stigma around the LGBTQ community is slowly easing and so too will LGBTQ community addiction in time.
Sexual Minorities With Addiction Face a Tough Time
When it comes to addiction, there’s no room for shame or stigma. As a society, we need to be open and supportive of anyone who wants help. That includes members of the LGBTQ community.
We hope this article has helped you understand how substance abuse affects LGBTQ+ people. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
If you have a loved one who is one of the sexual minorities with an addiction be sure to contact us today to see how we can help.
LGBTQ Rehab in Arlington, TX
At Sunshine Care Centers, we work hard to provide a clean and secure environment for everyone to express their thoughts and emotions during treatment. We understand that addiction is experienced differently by everyone, but we are dedicated to safely guiding patients through the detox process and establishing a treatment plan that works for you. Don’t wait to get the help they need to reach your recovery goals.