LGBTQ+ Community And Substance Abuse: Problem, Causes, And Ways For Recovery

The LGBTQ+ community comprises of lesbians, transgender males and females, gays, bisexuals, and queer individuals. These communities face higher risks of drug, alcohol and substance abuse than heterosexuals. LGBTQ+ community also encounters unique challenges when it comes to addiction treatments.

Some of the drugs that are commonly abused by the members of the LGBTQ include alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and heroin. There are also reports suggesting that there is a steady increase in the consumption of amphetamines among members of this community.

The Problem of Addiction in the LGBTQ+ Population

There is a significant increase in the demand for LGBT rehab centers and addiction treatment programs across the United States. This shows how bad this problem has taken root in this community. To understand the current situation of this scourge, it’s important to look at some of the findings of recent studies on drug addiction in the LGBT population.

Based on 2015 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the LGBTQ+ adults referred to as the ‘’sexual minority’’ in the survey, were more than twice likely to have used illicit drugs than their heterosexual counterparts in the past year. Almost a third of the LGBTQ+ adults had used marijuana in the past year. In a meta-analysis, LGBT adolescents were 90 percent more likely to use substances than young heterosexuals.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates the rate of substance abuse at 9% among the overall American population. However, most studies show that the LGBTQ+ rates are as high as 20 to 30%. Statistics from the Center for American Progress reveal that 25% of gay and transgender males and females abuse alcohol compared to the 5 to 10% rates for the entire American population.

The Center also reports that men that have same-sex relationships are 12 times more likely to use amphetamines than men that do not have same-sex relationships.

Unlike their heterosexual counterparts, members of the LGBTQ+ have unique barriers to addiction treatments. Several factors hinder the LGBT community from getting the needed addiction care and treatment. These include lack of insurance, financial disparities, shortage of LGBT addiction treatment centers and amenities as well as social isolation and rejection.

Causes of Higher Addiction Rates in the LGBTQ+ Community

There are several reasons why the LGBT community report higher rates of alcohol, drug and substance addiction. They include:

Emotional distress

The rights of the LGBT communities are gaining recognition in most parts of the world. However, there are still significant concerns that such groups are deviants of religious and social norms. As a result, quite a number of lesbians, gays, transgender people, and queer individuals still find it hard to fit into the societies where they have grown up. This pushes majority of them into drug and alcohol abuse. To them, drugs and alcohol provide a way to quash emotional distress.

Stigma and discrimination

The LGBT community faces marginalization, violence, and stigma, all of which negatively affect these individuals. In addition to isolation and rejection in most social circles, they also face institutionalized discrimination at places of work. This discrimination is also the reason many of them opt to attend LGBTQ treatment centers. In fact, LGBT individuals are generally reluctant to disclose their sexual orientations during treatment. That’s because they fear that healthcare providers might not know their needs or they might even turn hostile towards them.

Shortage of treatment services for the LGBTQ

While there are facilities for addiction treatments across the country, very few focus on the needs of LGBT people. A national study that was conducted across 854 treatment centers that offer specialized care for the LGBT population found that only 62 actually deliver the said services. This indicates that indeed, there are limited treatment services that focus on the LGBT community. Without special addiction treatments, most members of the LGBT community find it hard to deal with problems of alcohol and drug addiction.

Drug and Substance Addiction Treatments for the LGBTQ+

Alcohol, drugs and substance addiction is a significant problem that is faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community. One of the best ways to deal with this problem is through the establishment of LGBT substance abuse treatment programs. These programs should focus on providing specialized care based on the specific needs of these individuals. The programs should deliver a free and non-empathetic space for individuals with unique sexual and gender orientations to undergo detox and addiction treatment.

Individual and group counseling

This is an integral part of drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Specialized LGBT substance treatment programs have counselors that are conversant with the unique challenges faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community. This enables them to create a free and conducive environment where the LGBT community can share their fears without being judged or discriminated against.

Detox programs

Detox programs are aimed at ridding the body of the effects of the addictive substances and putting the victims on the path to recovery. The programs vary based on the particular drugs that an individual is addicted to, the amount of dosage consumed and how long they have been using those drugs. However, detox programs follow a basic guideline that focuses on stabilization and monitoring, prevention of withdrawal symptoms, administration of withdrawal medications and transition to addiction treatment.

Therapeutic Approaches to Addiction

There are numerous therapeutic approaches to alcohol and drug addiction. Many people opt for a comprehensive program that comprises of varying addiction treatments. Depending on the kind of substance or drug that you are addicted to, you can benefit from medications that facilitate long term recovery. Many centers that offer LGBT treatment for addiction focus on individual therapy, group therapy, support groups, and family therapy.

In specialized LGBTQ+ addiction treatment programs, these therapeutic approaches are tailored to suit the needs of every individual. During treatment, individuals learn a lot including ways of dealing with discrimination and hatred as well as how to deal with LGBT domestic violence.

Choosing Detox and Addiction Treatment Options for LGBT

There are many LGBT addiction treatment options. However, you need to choose the right programs that cater to your individual needs. Some facilities cater for all members of the LGBTQ+ community exclusively. However, some serve gay men and lesbians only. To identify the best detox and addiction treatment option for LGBT, you need to consider several factors. These include the involved costs, location of the program, your insurance coverage, duration of the treatment, particular therapeutic services offered, and your preferred facilities.
Also, decide whether to go for an inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment facility. There are also addiction treatment programs for teens and young adults. Other options include LGBT substance abuse treatment programs for single or mixed gender. Consider all these factors to make an informed choice.

About the Author

Jeffrey Buckley is a blogger who investigates the human health issues and behaviorist anthropology. He researches substance abuse problems and the ways to overcome addictions.