Studies and statistics have shown that people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community have a higher chance of becoming victims of substance and alcohol use disorders than everyone else. About a third of the population of adults belonging to sexual minorities have been reported to present with severe substance use disorders, as compared to only 16% of the general adult public.
‘The LGBTQ+ community needs a safe place to heal from addiction, and the underlying causes for this condition, without being afraid of being shamed, attacked or mentally abused for who they are,’ says United Recovery Project CEO Bryan Alzate when asked about why their services cater to LGBTQ+ community members specifically.
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Substance Use Differences in the LGBTQ Community
As mentioned above, the patterns for substance use disorders in teenagers, young adults, and adults who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or other sexual minorities, are different from cisgender heterosexual individuals who make up the vast majority. Sexual minorities face violent discrimination for their identities and even those who are safe from this kind of discrimination are constantly in fear or danger of it.
Past studies have shown how people with mental illnesses, financial problems, and different kinds of trauma are more susceptible to alcohol and substance use disorders. Growing up and seeing people members of one’s community being bullied, harassed, rendered homeless, and often killed is heart-wrenching. These stressful experiences cause depression and other mental illnesses in younger LGBTQ+ individuals. This, along with the lack of proper support systems make LGBTQ+ people susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse at much higher rates.
Statistics on LGBTQ Populations & Addiction
There have been multiple studies on substance use disorders, alcohol use disorders, and comparing statistics between the cisgender heterosexual population and the LGBTQ+ population. These studies have shown that sexual minorities have a much higher percentile of people who are susceptible to alcohol or substance abuse.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health published its statistics on nationwide drug use patterns. Their survey was inclusive of LGBTQ+ folk and included questions to monitor data about alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and even prescription drug abuse. This survey was taken in 2015 and published in 2018 with the last data modification happening as recently as 2021. According to its results, LGBTQ+ people are not only susceptible to drug misuse from an earlier age, but also try out more drugs, and have a higher risk of substance use disorders and mental illnesses. People belonging to sexual minorities reported having abused different illicit drugs around 50% more than those belonging to a sexual majority (cisgender heterosexual/non-LGBTQ individuals).
A nationwide survey in which 400 out of the total 1700 people who participated belong to the LGBTQ+ community showed that LGBTQ+ people are at a higher risk of substance use disorders and also have felt the lack of adequate rehabilitation facilities that cater to them and their specific needs.
Discrimination and Substance Use
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered folks, and people belonging to other sexual minorities face discrimination because of their identities. This discrimination includes everyday hurdles such as bullying from a young age, harassment at the workplace, and the most distressing of all: abuse from homophobic family members. Experiences of discrimination act as major stressors in the lives of these individuals. These factors lead to the person falling victim to chronic loneliness, depression, anxiety, self-hatred, body image disorders, and other mental illnesses.
They not only face emotional distress that comes from facing all this but also suffer from the fear of becoming homeless or being harmed. This results in LGBTQ+ individuals having a higher risk of turning to substance abuse and alcohol use at a young age as an escape from their anguish. Even as adults, studies show that there is an increasingly alarming positive association between substance use disorders and gender and sexuality-based discrimination.
LGBTQ Addiction Rehab Options
Many options are available for LGBTQ individuals who want to seek rehabilitation. Rehab options include outpatient therapy programs, detoxification programs, partial hospitalization, and inpatient treatment options. The tricky part is not finding rehab program options, but the real difficulty lies in finding places where one will not be looked down upon, tormented, or invalidated because of one’s sexual and gender identity.
Some of the best gay-friendly and LGBTQ+ inclusive rehab facilities can be found in the state of California. These rehab facilities are some of the most well-known and have the best treatment programs, doctors, and medical staff available.
For outpatient treatment options and mental health counseling and treatment, Califoenia’s United Recovery service offers a wide range of support groups, mental health counselors, and access to treatment and detoxification, as well as 12-step-based rehabilitation programs.
Addiction Rehab and Mental Health Treatment Programs
Most of the time, substance abuse stems from underlying mental health issues that go undetected or brushed aside. In LGBTQ+ individuals, chronic mental health issues may fester other than their struggles related to their gender and sexual identity. While treating a client’s alcohol and substance use disorder through intensive treatment programs, it is important to address the underlying mental health disorders and their cause. This not only leads to better chances of long-term recovery but also lessens the chances of relapse.
Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders
Mental health issues that may co-occur with addiction and substance use disorders include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Personality disorders
#1 LGBTQ+ individuals face a greater risk of developing alcohol and substance use disorders.
#2 These individuals suffer discrimination because of their identities and as a result, lead them to battle with mental health issues that make them more susceptible to alcohol substance abuse.
#3 A variety of rehabilitation centers that are LGBT friendly are available in the state of California that offer supportive treatment programs.