LGBTQ Addiction Treatment
Members of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) community face many challenges in life, accompanied by a high rate of addiction within the community. But you might wonder, how common is substance misuse among LGBTQ people? There is an estimated 20 to 30% of the LGBTQ community that abuses substances, compared to the average rate of 8%.
It is hard to pinpoint what drugs are most popular among LGBTQ users but, generally, the people in the LGBTQ community use anything from marijuana to methamphetamine, to heroin or Percocet. Although things have gotten better in recent years, the stigma surrounding sexuality in America is still not the same for someone in the LGBTQ community as it is for a heterosexual and cis person.
LGBTQ-specific treatment centers are able to understand the struggles of the LGBTQ community. This is important to addiction treatment, because your approach to healing may be different.
Treatment should address the various issues in the community, including addiction treatment programs that offer specialized groups. These have been shown to have better outcomes as compared to non-specialized programs. Research also suggests that treatment needs to be able to address the individualized factors in each person’s life, such as homophobia, transphobia, family problems, violence, and social isolation often found in the community.
While many substances can be addictive, there are a few specific drugs more commonly abused in the LGBTQ community:
- Tobacco: It was found that both gay and transgender individuals use tobacco 2 times more than those who do not identify as LGBTQ.
- Alcohol: Between 20 and 25% of the LGBTQ community are expected to have a moderate to severe alcohol dependency.
- Amphetamines: Members of the LGBTQ community are 12.2 times more likely to use Amphetamines than those who identify as heterosexual.
- Heroin: LGBTQ individuals are 9.5 times more likely to use Heroin than heterosexual individuals.
It is found that the LGBTQ community suffers from higher rates of substance abuse than the population as a whole. Not only is this due to societal impacts as a whole, but from family trauma as well. In many situations, LGBTQ members will suffer challenges on a daily basis. Some of these challenges include:
- Discrimination or stigmatization because of their sexual orientation
- Hate crimes, emotional abuse, threats, public humiliation, or ridicule
- Rejection or shame from society after coming out
- Loss of employment or not receiving promotions
Because of the abuse and trauma that LGBTQ populations suffer from, it is common for these individuals to self-medicate. Those in the LGBTQ community have a much higher rate of depression anxiety and fear. Because drugs and alcohol can help temporarily numb bad feelings, it may be a short-term correction. Substance abuse may appear to be beneficial but can also end up hiding your feelings from you and causing more trouble later on.
There have been many studies that have found a higher rate of mental health trouble among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning people than in heterosexual people. This may be due to parental rejection and intergenerational trauma.
For example, LGBTQ adults that reported high rates of parental rejection in their teens were much more likely to have attempted suicide. In fact, they were 8.4 times more likely and 5.9 times more likely to report extreme depression. It has also been found that they are 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to have had unprotected sex than their peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
The HIV epidemic was a horrific incident that left 324,029 people dead in the 1980s and 90s. Most of these people were gay men which led to even further stigmatization of the disease and community in general. However with popular culture such as influencers and acceptance of the LGBTQ population, HIV has been dramatically normalized.
Identifying signs of substance misuse can be difficult, but there are a few things to look out for. For example, there are specific cultures within LGBTQ communities that tend to participate in a certain type of party. These participants often use meth or MDMA.
Transgender individuals in particular are especially at risk for turning to addictive substances, specifically to deal with feelings of anxiety or loneliness. Transgender individuals are at a much higher risk for negative stigma and discrimination. One study found that transgender individuals are more than twice as likely to use Cocaine or Meth.
Dual Diagnosis in the LGBTQ Community
Because of the fact that many members of the LGBTQ community are often required to live a life hiding their sexuality, it can cause mental health problems. Hiding sexuality is usually due to a fear of rejection, resulting in living a double life. This type of psychological issue is one that can lead to the development of mental health disorders and emotional distress.
Dual diagnosis is the act of a mental health problem along with an addiction disorder. Common mental health disorders often found in the LGBTQ community include:
- Major depression
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- High levels of stress
- Suicide attempts or self-harming tendencies
There are also some physical and health issues related to being of LGBTQ. In some cases these can contribute to addiction:
- Compulsive sexual behavior
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sex or HIV-related anxiety
- Sexual abuse or assault
Because there are many individuals who identify as LGBTQ that have a co-occurring mental or sexual disorder, it can lead to substance abuse or make it worse. This is why it is important for anyone who has a dual diagnosis to treat both parts of their disorders.
At our treatment center, we pride ourselves on being LGBT-friendly. We not only accept members of the gay community, but we welcome them with open arms. We even have some team members that are part of the LGBT community.
They understand the unique experiences that you are going through. We help to promote a culture that you feel comfortable in as someone of the LGBTQ community. We work to promote an atmosphere for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning clients to feel comfortable.
You can choose from the following treatment programs in our facilities:
- Inpatient rehab program: Our treatment facilities offer patients short-term stays between 28 to 30 days, as well as longer periods of time that can range up to six months. You will live in the facility for the duration of your treatment.
- Intensive outpatient program: For those who are unable to commit to 30+ days in a treatment program, outpatient programs are the next best option.
- Detox program: Also known as medical detox, this is the process of helping rid the body of alcohol or drugs. It is important to go through a detox in a facility to avoid dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
- Dual diagnosis treatment program: For those who suffer from dual diagnosis, going to a treatment program that specializes in the care of both disorders is essential.
We can make personalized plans for LGBTQ clients, and we create safe spaces for LGBTQ clients. Making subcultural connections in recovery programs also increases chances of success. We believe that choosing a proud LGBTQ path to recovery with The Discovery House is the best chance you have at sobriety.