According to LGBT addiction statistics, gay and transgender individuals have a higher rate of addiction than the general population. Here are some reasons why.
It’s not easy being gay due to the high level of discrimination homosexuals face in America. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, LGBT addiction statistics show that LGBT individuals abuse drugs or alcohol at a higher rate than the general population.
Experts surmise that the primary driver behind this elevated rate of substance abuse is the daily battle with discrimination and stigma, which leads to stress and negative emotions like fear, anger, and resentment. These are all common underlying issues for substance abuse because many people turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with them.
LGBT Issues and Alcoholism in the LBGT Community
According to LGBT addiction statistics, 25 percent of gay and transgender people abuse alcohol, compared to around nine percent of the general population. The Center for American Progress identifies minority stress, discrimination, and socialization and marketing as three primary reasons for higher rates of alcoholism in the LBGT community.
Minority stress is the collection of negative effects associated with the marginalization of a minority group, including LGBT individuals, who deal with social prejudices on a daily basis, whether intentionally–such as verbal and physical abuse by anti-gay individuals–or unintentionally, such as someone asking which person of a gay couple is the “real” parent of a child. From the classroom to the board room and the doctor’s office to City Hall, the LGBT community is marginalized through culturally homogenous administrative forms and policies as well as through persecution and hatred from some religious groups.
Minority stress often leads to alcohol and drug abuse as self-medication for the fear and anxiety it causes.
It’s legal in 29 states for individuals to be denied employment or fired for their sexual orientation, and discrimination and harassment in the workplace has affected 43 percent of gay and 90 percent of transgender individuals. Additionally, up to 70 percent of transgender individuals have experienced housing discrimination, and these and other types of systematic discrimination against LGBT populations contribute to both stress and substance abuse.
Socialization and Marketing
Traditionally, the LGBT community finds safety in numbers in bars, restaurants, and clubs, where alcohol and drug abuse are common. Additionally, tobacco and alcohol companies have, for decades, exploited LGBT populations to aggressively market to this demographic. LGBT addiction statistics show that both drinking and smoking are far more prevalent among the LGBT crowd, and that’s partly due to alcohol and tobacco companies’ heavy marketing campaigns in gay and transgender publications as well as their frequent sponsorship of LGBT events and organizations.
LGBT Substance Abuse Treatment
Treating a substance use disorder requires addressing all of an individual’s problems and needs. Heavy substance abuse and addiction almost always have underlying causes, such as stress, chronic illness, or a history of trauma. In many cases, the traumas and stressors the LGBT community experiences are unique to that population, such as the trauma of being physically assaulted for being gay, being disowned by family members, or the minority stress that comes from belonging to a marginalized group.
For some, LGBT substance abuse treatment offers the best possible outcomes of treatment. This is largely because of the strong support system formed in treatment. Having support from peers in recovery who can relate to your experiences is essential for successful recovery, and feeling safe is crucial in a treatment program. Specialized treatment programs can ensure marginalized populations, including the LGBT community, feel safe sharing their personal experiences and openly discussing their unique problems and challenges.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.