Life can be tough for any marginalized demographic – for African Americans, for women, and for members of the LGBTQ community. Sadly, discrimination and bullying are alive and well, and depending on where an individual is located and what kind of adversity they’re dealing with. In the LGBTQ community, drug abuse is relatively prevalent. This is due to several factors.
First of all, those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning typically face more than societal discrimination – they face a greater risk of violence and harassment, more familial issues (parental rejection, for example), and difficulties maintaining long-term interpersonal relationships because of pressure put on their partners.
Why Are Drug Abuse Rates So High for Gays?
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that adults who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or as any other “sexual minority” were twice as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as straight (heterosexual) adults. The same study found that one out of every ten (over 10 percent) of LGBTQ adults had abused prescription painkillers within the past year, while less than 5 percent of heterosexual adults abused painkillers within the last year. Across the board, rates of substance abuse were typically doubled within the LGBTQ community. While the general attitude towards diversity has improved over the course of the past several decades, there is still a lot of abuse and discrimination that ultimately leads to a drastically lower quality of life.
Alcoholism in the LGBTQ Community
Rates of binge drinking and alcoholism are much higher amongst members of the LGBTQ community than they are amongst heterosexual men and women. This can also be attributed to harassment, discrimination, and the unfortunate prevalence of hate crimes. It has been estimated that between 20 and 25 percent of LGBTQ community members abuse alcohol regularly, as opposed to under 13 percent of the general population. The good news is, there are many treatment options available to those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or questioning.
If you struggle with drug addiction or alcoholism and you are a marginalized minority, there is help available specifically to you. We at Recreate Life Counseling know the importance of being surrounded by like-minded people – people who have gone through the same experiences you have, and who have faced the same adversities as well. For this reason, we are partnered with numerous LGBTQ-specific treatment centers that will help you overcome addiction, keeping your personal and unique struggles in mind.
Gay Men and Methamphetamine
One of the most popular drugs in the gay community is methamphetamine. Since the late 1990s, gay men in New York City would use methamphetamine (otherwise known as crystal meth) as an aphrodisiac. It was commonly used in conjunction with “sex parties” and at bathhouses. Users believe that crystal meth will help to enhance their sexual experiences and allow them to have more fun when surrounded by like-minded peers. The truth is, however, that crystal meth use is absolutely devastating. The highly addictive stimulant drug releases high amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, causing feelings of euphoria and elation. On a psychological level, crystal meth causes feelings of power, self-confidence, and self-esteem. When the effects of the drug wear off, the user will experience feelings of deep depression, disillusionment, exhaustion, and irritability.
In order to prevent these uncomfortable symptoms, the user will usually seek and use the drug before the withdrawal completely sets in – leading to a vicious cycle of use and ultimately physical and psychological dependency.
If you identify as a member of the LGBTQ community and you have been struggling with alcoholism or addiction, there is help available. Please reach out for more information on our comprehensive program of recovery.