LGBTQ and Addiction

Rates of drug abuse and addiction in the LGBTQ community are disturbingly higher than those of other groups. Discrimination, societal pressures, and co-occurring disorders are just a few potential triggers for drug abuse in this population.

The LGBTQ Community and Addiction

Members of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) community face a number of challenges that have contributed to a high rate of addiction.

An estimated 20% to 30% of the LGBTQ community abuses substances, compared to about 9% of the general population.

LGBTQ-specific treatment centers are sensitive to the needs of that community and address underlying aspects that may have led to an addiction. This is instrumental to the recovery process.

Challenges the LGBTQ Community Faces

The LGBTQ community is prone to substance abuse at a disproportionate rate compared to that of the general population. This is due in part to a number of socially imposed obstacles that they face, usually on a daily basis, that those who identify themselves as heterosexual typically don’t.

A few of these challenges include:

  • Discrimination or stigmatization based on sexual orientation.
  • Hate crimes; emotional abuse, threats, public humiliation or ridicule.
  • Rejection or shame from family or friends after coming out.
  • Loss of employment or not receiving promotions.
  • Internalized homophobia or self-hatred.

Because of these challenges, LGBTQ individuals will oftentimes turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate from the prejudice by society. Substances can help temporarily numb uncomfortable feelings they may be experiencing, such as depression, anxiety, anger, or fear.

Common Co-occurring Disorders Amongst the LGBTQ Community

An aspect that may provide internal conflict for members of the LGBTQ community is that they feel they are forced to live a “closeted” life. They hide their sexuality from others in fear of rejection and lead a double life in regards to acting on their sexual orientation. Keeping one’s sexuality a secret is takes psychological toll that may lead to the development of mental or emotional conditions or disorders.

Common psychological or emotional disorders among the LGBTQ community include:

  • Major depression.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder.
  • High levels of stress.
  • Suicide attempts or self-harming tendencies.

In addition to the societal challenges they face, an LGBTQ individual may experience physical or health issues related to their sexuality. These can also contribute to an addiction and may include:

  • Compulsive sexual behavior.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Sex or HIV-related anxiety.
  • Sexual abuse or assault.

Many individuals who identify themselves as LGBTQ have a co-occurring mental or sexual disorder that either led to substance abuse problem or is perpetuating the abuse. When considering which treatment option is best for an LGBTQ individual, there should be a focus on addressing any co-occurring disorders to allow for the highest chance of sustained sobriety while in recovery.

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Drugs of Choice Within LGBTQ Community

While many substances can be addictive, there are five that are frequently abused within the LGBTQ community.

  • Tobacco – Gay and transgender individuals use tobacco up to 200% more than those who identify as heterosexual.
  • Alcohol – Between 20% and 25% of the LGBTQ community have moderate to severe alcohol dependency.
  • Marijuana – Gay men are 3.5 times more likely to use marijuana than straight males.
  • Amphetamines – Members of the LGBTQ community are 12.2 times more likely to use amphetamines.
  • Heroin – LGBTQ individuals are 9.5 times more likely to use heroin than heterosexual individuals.

Treatment Centers for the LGBTQ Community

One of the reasons that LGBTQ individuals may be hesitant to get help is the lack of resources available to them that address their individual needs.

Fortunately, there are some treatment programs that focus on the isolation that members of the LGBTQ community often experience, as well as the lasting effects of conducting a “closeted” life or being the victim of discrimination.

LGBTQ-specific rehabilitation centers help pinpoint any co-occurring mental health disorders, which helps with lasting healing and recovery. Without addressing the underlying reason to use or any conditions that may be contributing to an addiction, there is a far greater chance for relapse.

Get The Help You Need

The LGBTQ community’s rate of addiction is concerning, as is the various challenges and obstacles these individuals face on a daily basis that can contribute to a substance abuse problem.

By entering a rehabilitation center that specializes in LGBTQ addiction and care, you will feel like part of the majority rather than the minority. You will be surrounded by individuals that can provide support and encouragement.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, please contact us now.