History of LGBTQ community
There have always been lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in society, but the term LGBT wasn’t used until the 1990s.
Although the acronym recognizing the community didn’t come about until a few decades ago, there is evidence of the LGBTQ community dating as far back as 9600 BC. Over time the LGBTQ community has valiantly fought against many stereotypes and hate crimes.
Because of the discrimination and lack of acceptance LGBTQ individuals often face, they may struggle with their self-esteem and identity. Many self-medicate with substances in attempts to handle issues related to their sexual or gender preference or to try to numb their feelings. The LGBTQ community is at a higher risk of addiction due to the struggles many experiences associated with their sexual and gender identities, including:
- Bullying from family, peers, and strangers
- Higher rates of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression
- Rejection from friends and family
- Feelings of guilt or shame about their identity
- Finding their own identity
- Suffering physical, mental or emotional abuse
What Distinguishes LGBTQ Addiction from Straight Addiction?
Research shows that the LGBTQ community has statistically higher rates of addiction than the rest of the population. While 9% of the general population struggles with substance use disorders, 20-30% of LGBTQ individuals do. This is possibly due to their lack of acceptance by others and themselves, which may lead them towards substance abuse. It can be difficult to suffer the feelings of isolation that come from being shunned by those who are supposed to love and support them. Many may choose to numb their feeling entirely with drugs and drinking to mask the pain.
The LGBTQ community is also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression or other mental health issues, at least partially due to discrimination from others. 20% of people with mental illnesses and mood disorders also struggle with substance abuse.
Ecstasy and GHB are particularly common club drugs abused by members of the LGBTQ community. Gays male are also 4-7 times more likely to abuse stimulants, sedatives, hallucinogens, and tranquilizers.
Alcohol is also a commonly abused substance among the LGBTQ community. Studies show that 25% of LGBTQ Americans abuse alcohol, while only 5-10% of the general population does.
Part of the reason for this-this more significant amount of substance abuse among the LGBTQ community could be because they feel they have to go to clubs and bars as the best way to meeting like-minded people in a safe place.
The LGBTQ community requires a different approach to treatment for substance abuse than the general population. They could be afraid of coming out to therapists and others in group meetings. Many do not have health insurance or access to affordable treatment.
Treatment centers should employ staff experienced with working with and supporting LGBTQ individuals. As of 2008, 777 rehabilitation centers in the US offer treatment options specific to the LGBTQ community.
LGBTQ individuals have a better chance at recovery if they seek treatment at a facility designed to support their community. If the rehabilitation center does not feel welcoming or is discriminatory, the clients may leave treatment early. More than half of the people who join outpatient treatment quit before completing three months, which is the time frame recommended as a minimum for a successful recovery.
Therapy is crucial for treatment and centers around a lot more than just substance abuse. A good therapist will discuss issues related to sexual and gender identity. Therapists can also help repair relationships. Friendships made in group meetings can and often do last outside of treatment.
Therapists should also address other mental health issues during treatment. This goes hand in hand with substance abuse recovery. Sometimes medication will be prescribed to treat mental illness or even specific substance abuse problems.
Get Help Now
If you or someone you love is a member of the LGBTQ community and suffering from a substance use disorder, get help right away. Seek a treatment center that focuses on LGBTQ individuals, or at least has staff trained on working with the LGBTQ community. It could mean the difference between successful and unsuccessful rehabilitation.