People that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning face discrimination, social stigma, and other challenges that are not encountered by heterosexual individuals. Members of the LGBTQ community are also at a higher risk of violence and harassment. These are some of the stressors that increase the risk of these sexual minorities for different behavioral issues. Until recently, most surveys did not ask about gender identification and sexual orientation during data collection.
Being a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or a questioning person poses many challenges in life. Most LGBTQ community members are concerned about the consequences of the decision to come out and tell friends and family members about their sexuality, as well as, dealing with discrimination fears. This combined with other stressful situations leads LGBTQ community members into substance abuse as a means of coping.
Fortunately, a member of this community can find rescue in a gay drug rehab (AddictionResource gives more info). This is a facility that provides a comfortable environment for LGBTQ community members to undergo treatment for drug addiction. Professionals in such a facility understand the challenges faced by the members of the LGBTQ community and the best ways to help them overcome addiction.
Reasons for Substance Abuse among LGBTQ+ Members
Research has shown that substance abuse has historically been a prevalent problem in LGBT populations. The prevalence of alcohol and illicit drug use in the LGBT community is higher than in the general population. This can be attributed to several triggers, some of which are unique to members of the LGBTQ+ populations. Here are some of the reasons why LGBTQ+ community members abuse substances.
Stress is a major contributing factor to the initiation and continued use or abuse of addictive substances. Members of the LGBTQ+ community face increased stress than the general population due to perceived discrimination, real discrimination, and internalized homophobia. Unwelcome environments at workplaces or schools can also lead to high-stress rates.
The modern society is increasingly accepting the LGBTQ+ norms and culture. Several LGBT rehab centers have also been established in different parts of the world. However, some LGBTQ+ people are still struggling with internalized homophobia. This phobia occurs when a person accepts sexual discrimination and stigma as part of their identity and self-concept.
This can lead to self-loathing for LGBTQ+ people and can cause substance abuse, as well as, subsequent addiction. Some members of the LGBTQ+ community can see alcohol and drug use as a way of accepting their persona. Depending on alcohol and drugs to feel comfortable increases the potential for addiction. That’s because of the double-reward effect, where a drug user enjoys an emotional high and substance high.
A CBC News article reports that the marginalization of LGBTQ community members can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. To deal with such issues, these individuals can turn to self-medicating with addictive drugs like marijuana. Research has shown that HIV-positive bisexual young male and gay cite social relaxation, stress relief, and forgetting diagnosis as the major reasons to use marijuana.
Difficulties Faced by LGBTQ+ Community Members
Self-identifying as an LGBTQ member is a personal and unique experience. For some people, accepting or expressing an LGBTQ identify alone is confusing, uncomfortable, or frightening. Some individuals worry about how their family members, friends, and co-workers will react to this revelation. Others might experience rejection or strained relationships after making the revelation. It is such reactions and experiences that compel some of these individuals to start abusing alcohol and drugs as a way of relieving stress.
What’s more, members of the LGBTQ communities can have difficulties seeking assistance with substance abuse and addiction due to the fear of discrimination or judgment even from people that should help them. In most cases, individuals that identify as LGBTQ+ have a history of negative experiences with some healthcare providers. As such, they may fear the same encounters from LGBT addiction treatment centers.
Additionally, society stigmatizes substance use disorders. Therefore, LGBTQ+ community members can hesitate to compound this stigma with what they face due to their sexual orientation and identity. Nevertheless, seeking help from a rehab whose programs are focused on the needs of LGBTQ community members can make things easier. Such a facility has professionals that understand the difficulties faced by these people and how to help them beat addiction.
If LGBTQ+ community members that abuse substances fail to seek addiction treatment, they face a wide range of risks. Major among them is leading a closeted life and continuing their addictive behaviors. This entails hiding sexuality and leading a double life. Keeping sexuality a secret can take a psychological toll on LGBTQ+ individuals and eventually lead to mental health disorders.
Emotional or psychological disorders that LGBTQ+ community members can face if they don’t seek help include:
- Anxiety disorder
- Major depression
- Increased stress levels
- Self-harming tendencies or suicide attempts
- Compulsive sexual behavior
- Sexual assault or abuse
- HIV or sex-related anxiety
Luckily, some LGBT rehabilitation centers provide treatment for co-occurring sexual or mental disorders that result from or lead to substance abuse and subsequent addiction. Therefore, if you or a loved one is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and has an addiction, as well as, co-occurring conditions, find such a rehab facility.
How to Cope
Coping with addiction and challenges that come with identifying as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer person is not easy. Nevertheless, these individuals can get help with addiction from facilities that offer LGBTQ+-specific treatment for addiction. These facilities are run by professionals with knowledge of the specific needs of LGBTQ community members.
In addition to treating addiction, LGBT-friendly rehab centers address the underlying issues that may have led to a substance use disorder. This is very important to the overall recovery process. Most treatment programs that provide specialized care to groups like the LGBTQ+ community have shown to yield better outcomes compared to non-specialized programs.
Essentially, addiction treatment should focus on addressing unique factors in the lives of the patients. The programs of these centers address factors like social isolation, violence, and homophobia. These are all critical to addiction treatment and recovery of LGBTQ+ community members.