Substance abuse is a significant problem among the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTIA+) community. Research shows LGBTIA+ 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 LGBTIA+ community and struggling with addiction, we want you to know that specialized help is available. Awakenings Treatment Center offers LGBTIA+ mental health and addiction treatment support. We are here for you!
Why is Substance Abuse More Prevalent in the LGBTIA+ Population?
Since the 1970s, scientists have consistently found higher rates of abuse among sexual minorities. There are many reasons why this relationship exists. Let’s explore.
- Social stigma. Despite a growing acceptance of sexual minorities in the U.S., the LGBTIA+ population still faces some 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 LGBTIA+ 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 LGBTIA+ 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 LGBTIA+ population. Some individuals may also 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 you love the most. Sadly, this is the response that some people get when “coming out.”
Drugs of Choice Within the LGBTIA+ Community
Many substances are addictive, though some are more attractive to the LGBTIA+ 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 LGBTIA+ population.
- Tobacco. 20.5 percent of LGBTIA+ adults smoke cigarettes, compared to 15.3 percent of straight adults. To avoid stress, tobacco companies often advertise at pride festivals.
- Alcohol. Between 20 and 25 percent of the LGBTIA+ community have moderate alcohol dependency.
- Marijuana. Growing research tells us that LGBTIA+ 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. LGBTIA+ adults have a three times greater risk of developing an opioid use disorder than 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 LGBTIA+ 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 LGBTIA+ specific addiction treatment, including the 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 ways our addiction treatment program supports members of the LGBTIA+ 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
Awakenings Treatment Center Offers Comprehensive LGBTIA+ Addiction Treatment
People do well in our LGBTIA+ 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 community members. To learn more about our program and how we 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!