Substance abuse is a significant problem among the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBT+) community. Research shows that LGBT+ adults are almost twice as likely to develop a substance use disorder than their heterosexual peers.
Sadly, people who are part of the sexual minority often face stigma, discrimination, and other challenges that heterosexual people do not. They also experience higher rates of violence and harassment. All of these factors raise the risk of developing behavioral issues like substance abuse.
If you are part of the LGBT+ community and struggling with addiction, we want you to know that specialized help is available. Awakenings Treatment Center offers LGBT+ mental health and addiction treatment support. We are here for you!
Why is Substance Abuse More Prevalent in the LGBT+ Population?
Since the 1970s, scientists have consistently found higher rates of abuse among sexual minorities. There are a number of reasons why this relationship exists. Let's explore.
- Social stigma. Despite a growing acceptance of sexual minorities in the U.S., the LGBT+ population still faces some level of discrimination. This intolerance can come from family, friends, social media, and people in the community. Hate crimes, bullying, and workplace harassment still take place today.
- Lack of support. Some people in the LGBT+ population choose to “stay in the closet” because they want to avoid discrimination and rejection. Unfortunately, living this double life can be lonely and isolating, resulting in substance abuse.
- Internalized homophobia. It's possible for members of the LGBT+ community to suffer from their own internalized fears. Drinking or using drugs can numb these feelings but only temporarily.
- Co-occurring disorders. Mental health disorders, such as clinical depression and anxiety disorders, are common among the LGBT+ population. Also, some individuals may suffer from HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other sexually transmitted diseases. Understandably, these disorders make it harder to seek professional treatment.
- Rejection or shame. Rejection is never easy, but it can especially sting when it comes from those people who you love the most. Sadly, this is the response that some people get when “coming out.”
Drugs of Choice Within the LGBT+ Community
A number of substances are addictive, though some are more attractive than others to the LGBT+ community. For those who lack family support and are surrounded by other substance abusers, it’s easy to follow the same pattern of behavior. Below are the most frequently abused drugs among the LGBT+ population.
- Tobacco. 20.5 percent of LGB adults smoke cigarettes compared to 15.3 percent of straight adults. Aside from using tobacco to cope with stress, tobacco companies often advertise at pride festivals.
- Alcohol. Between 20 and 25 percent of LGBT+ members have moderate alcohol dependency.
- Marijuana. Growing research tells us that LGBT+ people smoke marijuana at higher rates because of the stress they face.
- Amphetamines. Gay men are 12.2 times more likely to use amphetamines than their heterosexual peers. These drugs also tend to float around the club scene more often.
- Heroin. LGB adults have a three times greater risk of developing an Opioid use disorder compared to straight adults.
Sexual Minorities Benefit from Specialized Addiction Treatment
Sexual minorities are often hesitant to seek treatment from a traditional rehab center because they are afraid of what others will think or say. Group therapy, sharing rooms, etc. all create opportunities where people can make snarky comments and remarks. Even if someone from the LGBT+ community seeks treatment at a traditional rehab facility, they probably won't let down their guard entirely.
Gratefully, more rehabs are aware of the need for LGBT+ specific addiction treatment, including Awakenings Treatment Center. We offer mental health and addiction treatment services for this population. We promise to support you no matter how you identify in terms of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender selection.
Here are some of the ways that our addiction treatment program support members of the LGBT+ community:
- A safe, confidential setting where you can be your authentic self
- Discuss relevant issues such as coming out, bullying and healing trauma
- Provide psycho education on HIV/AIDS, safer sex and reproduction concerns
- Family support and education offered through weekly individual family therapy and monthly family days
- Work through underlying issues like chronic pain, relationship problems, eating disorders and mental health challenges
Call Awakenings for LGBT+ Addiction Treatment
People do very well in our LGBT+ program. They’re able to work through underlying pain, talk about the topics that are relevant to them, and build a strong support network that includes friends, family, and other LGBT+ members. To learn more about our program and how it can support you or a loved one, contact Awakenings Treatment Center today. There is never any judgment at our program - only full acceptance and love!