Over the years, it has become increasingly apparent that the rate of substance abuse and addiction is much higher among the LGBTQ community than those in other sectors of society. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities of people face several diverse issues that can contribute to a higher rate of addiction. Those people in our communities often face challenges that most heterosexuals don’t see in our lives including discrimination, social stigmas, harassment, and even violence.
According to surveys posted on NIH that discuss the matter:
More than a third (37.6 percent) of sexual minority adults 18 and older reported past-year marijuana use, compared to 16.2% reported by the overall adult population. Past year opioid use (including misuse of prescription opioids or heroin use) was also higher with 9% of sexual minority adults aged 18 or older reporting use compared to 3.8% among the overall adult population. Additionally, 9% of sexual minority adults aged 26 or older reported past-year misuse of prescription opioids—an increase from the 6.4% who reported misuse in 2017.
These reasons, along with so many other stressors, seem to increase the risk for the development of substance abuse and addiction. While there hasn’t been much data collected until recently, the surveys that have been done show a high rate of substance abuse in those who are sexual minorities.
Drugs and Alcohol in the LGBTQ Community
Those in the LGBTQ community will use alcohol and drugs as a way to self-medicate from the hardships that they have to deal with every single day. Substances like this are so attractive for anyone abusing them because they can numb you from any negative feelings you are feeling, even if it is just temporary relief. Feelings of anxiety, depression, fear, or anger go away in an instant, but it does not last forever.
Staying Sober as an LGBTQ Individual
When it comes to recovery as a member of the LGBTQ community, it can feel just as scary as staying in addiction. You don’t know whether the discrimination and isolation will continue in your recovery. Even though you cannot control how people will react to you in the real world, there is a place for you in the world of recovery. The recovery community is all-inclusive and never exclusive. If you want to get sober and stay sober, then there is a place for you and you are in the right place. If you still aren’t fully comfortable, you can seek out an LGBTQ-only program that gives you the ability to be surrounded by others that understand all of your struggles, not just your struggles in addiction. There are even recovery programs that are 100% LGBTQ friendly so you can tackle your specific issues like anxiety, depression, trauma, and sexual abuse. LGBTQ recovery programs share most of the same basic qualities as traditional rehab does, but also focuses more on the issues that are unique to those in this community.
Keeping Sobriety After Treatment for LGBTQ People
It is very important to continue your recovery journey after leaving a treatment center. So many people in the LGBTQ community do not continue with their sobriety after leaving detox and treatment because they don’t know where to look. Check out the 12-step meetings in your area. There are tons of 12 step meetings specifically catered to you so you can feel comfortable.
While those in the LGBTQ community are more vulnerable to the grips of substance abuse, this does not need to mean you have given yourself a death sentence. There are many options for you out there so you can get your life back together. While the discrimination and other difficulties might not end today, you can be given the tools to learn how to cope with it healthily and rebuild your life.