Substance abuse affects everyone, however, the issue is more pronounced in certain marginalized groups across the country. This is certainly true when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, where substance abuse impacts far too many.
Studies have shown that addiction in the LGBTQ+ community is twice as common compared to the rate among other groups. Twenty to thirty percent of those who identify as a member of the community struggle with substance abuse.
What makes this problem so prevalent and what can be done to curb it? Read on and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.
Addiction in the LGBTQ+ Community
Why is substance abuse more common in the LGBTQ+ community? There are a number of factors, but the challenges that LGBTQ+ people face on a daily basis play a big role in why the abuse of drugs and alcohol becomes so common.
Despite huge leaps over the past few years in terms of the acceptance of LGBTQ+ values, many who identify as part of the community face discrimination in their day-to-day lives.
This discrimination can take many forms -, as extreme as hate crimes, or oftentimes abandonment by their family.
LGBTQ+ individuals might have a harder time finding employment or a working environment that is accepting of them, especially within the trans community They might be spurned by friends or loved ones after coming out, or they might face ridicule from others in the broader public.
There’s even the specter of internalized homophobia or fear of being themselves that one might have to face. It can be difficult to accept ourselves as who we really are and there’s a lot of pain that comes with this process.
A Reliance on Substances
For these reasons and more, LGBTQ+ community members often turn to various substances as a way to cope with their troubles. Drugs and alcohol can help to combat the negative feelings of these experiences.
It can momentarily push off fear, rejection, depression, and other such painful feelings. However, these initial benefits can lead to much more negative damage in the long run.
Substance abuse can worsen conditions and issues already experienced by those in the LGBTQ+ community. In addition to damaging a person’s overall health, repeated abuse of substances can also worsen many mental health issues.
Mental Health Issues
Many individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ develop mental health disorders as a result of the stress and fear of potential rejection. Depression, anxiety, and stress disorders are common among those who identify.
As many studies have shown us, the repeated use of drugs and alcohol can worsen these existing issues.
Many who suffer from depression and anxiety turn to substances to manage these problems, but they are actually deepening them.
Repeated use of substances can also lead to a chemical dependency that can make it difficult to live life without the substance in question. This can make it hard to manage daily routines and needs, increasing stress and problems.
This all can become a vicious cycle that can become difficult to break. Often, the only way out is to seek help.
Common Substances Among LGBTQ+
Those in the LGBTQ+ community may vary in terms of what substances they are drawn to, however, there are some common substance abuse issues that are more prevalent among those in the community.
Tobacco products are incredibly popular among LGBTQ+ individuals. This population is nearly 200 percent more likely to smoke or vape than other populations. Addiction to tobacco products is high among the community and a problem that many face.
Many in the community also suffer from alcohol dependency. Many turn to drinking early in their lives and find it hard to break from the bottle as adults.
LGBTQ+ community members are also more likely to abuse life-threatening drugs such as meth, heroin, and fentanyl. Drug-related deaths occur at a higher rate than for those in other communities.
While these substances may be the most common, abuse of all sorts occurs within the community. Every case should be seen as an individual one.
A Need For Proper Treatment
Another reason why substance abuse may be so prevalent among LGBTQ+ individuals is that it can be harder to find treatment. Many in the community are reluctant to get the help they need as many treatment centers don’t serve the precise needs of this group of people.
Many begin to drink and use drugs as a way to cope with the difficulties of their identity.
It’s important that this reality be a key element of their recovery from substance addiction and reliance. Treatment centers that aren’t able to tackle this problem head-on may not be able to help those suffering in the way they really need.
Today, there are more programs and treatment centers engineered for the needs of the LGBTQ+ community. Still, many struggle to connect with this help and find the care and aid they really need.
Understanding LGBTQ+ Substance Abuse
If you’re struggling to understand why substance abuse is so prevalent in the LGBTQ+ community, the above information can provide some essential information.
The problems and challenges that push many in the community to abuse substances are the same reasons that personalized care and treatment are so important. Understanding addiction in the LGBTQ+ community begins with understanding how so many get there.
If you’re currently seeking help, please do not hesitate to contact us by phone or email. Reaching out is the first step to a healthier and happier future.