It’s no secret that the LGBTQIA+ community faces many challenges that other communities do not. The social difficulties that sexual minorities face can seem insurmountable.
So it’s no surprise that drug addiction rates would be affected by these circumstances. In fact, sexual minorities are twice as vulnerable to drug abuse when compared to heterosexual individuals.
Why is this the case? Read on to learn more about the drug addiction crisis facing the LGBTQIA+ community, and why it’s there in the first place.
Why Do People Abuse Drugs?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists four major reasons that people take drugs: to feel good, to feel better, to do better, and to fit in.
Even if someone’s first drug use is voluntary, substance abuse can quickly spiral out of control until the individual no longer has the self-control to abstain from drug usage. This tipping point will differ for every individual, as it is often tied to risk factors like upbringing, social skills, availability of substances, and poverty.
The LGBTQ+ Community and Drug Addiction Rates
When you apply these concepts to the LGBTQ+ community, the higher addiction rates start to make a lot of sense.
Many LGBT folks suffer from serious discrimination, harassment, violence, and alienation from their communities. It’s no surprise, then, that individuals might use substances as a way to feel good about themselves or better about their situation. In other circumstances, drugs may be used to numb the pain that social stigma can cause.
Other LGBT people may use drugs to cope with feelings of social confinement. When someone isn’t able to be themselves, they may turn to substance abuse to help them cope.
It’s common for individuals with substance abuse problems to also be suffering from other mental health disorders. These can range from anger issues to anxiety disorders to OCD to clinical depression.
Comorbidity rates are even higher in LGBTQ+ communities, likely due to the intense prejudice and social stigma that members of the LGBTQ+ community face.
What Can Be Done?
If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, there are programs to help you recover.
Many programs are even specifically geared towards members of high-risk drug addiction demographics like the LGBTQ+ community. These programs are equipped to deal with many of the underlying problems that cause drug abuse in LGBTQ+ individuals.
To be more specific, these centers are focused on family problems, dealing with homophobia/transphobia, self-acceptance, violence against LGBTQ+ individuals, and feelings of alienation or isolation from society.
Before choosing a rehabilitation facility, make sure to ask the right questions to find a center that’s right for you.
How You Can Help
It’s easy to come across misinformation when it comes to drug addiction rates. That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself and find reliable resources to learn from.
While support from friends and family certainly helps, sometimes affected individuals need to seek help from licensed professionals. As a friend or family member, you can help most by giving them the support and encouragement they need to speak to a professional.
If someone you know is slipping into drug abuse, don’t wait. To learn more about drug abuse and how you can help others (or get help for yourself), check out our other blog posts.