Substance Abuse Within the LGBT Community
Posted on 03/15/19: Addiction Recovery
Over the last few decades, our world has become more and more progressive, allowing for the emergence of several communities that have changed society as a whole. One of the most prominent of these communities is the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Community, promoting diversity across the world. They promote the notion that sex doesn’t determine gender or sexuality, and that they deserve the same rights and same respect as any other individual. Though communities like these are being celebrated more and more, there are still stereotypes and discriminations being made against them.
People around the world celebrate these communities for being so brave and transparent, but there are still people out there that do not agree with their lifestyles, usually because it differs from their own and unfortunately, people become uncomfortable with concepts they don’t fully understand themselves. There have been several instances of more conservative folk publicly discriminating against LGBT communities, and sadly it still prevails in many parts of the world.
Because of the continued discrimination and public ridicule, some people that are in the LGBT community keep their sexuality hidden for fear of the treatment they would receive should their orientation become known. This has caused many closeted LGBT members to have serious mental health issues which lead them to partake in substance abuse. When you struggle with accepting who you are because of public ridicule, it’s not hard to find comfort in substances that make you forget such horrible feelings.
Statistics on Substance Abuse
Over the years, there have been a massive number of studies done on addiction in the U.S. Below are a few statistics:
- Over 24 million Americans, ages 12 and up, are addicted to some substance (excluding tobacco).
- Over 100 people die every day from drug overdoses, which is triple the number it was 20 years ago.
- In 2011, there were over 5 million emergency room visits that were drug-related.
- Out of the 24 million people with addictions, over 6 million of them suffer from a mental illness, making up 25% of the addiction population.
LGBT Community & Addiction
The LGBT community is filled with people who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, and many more. According to a study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, adults in the “sexual minority” (the LGBT community) often have substance abuse rates much higher than the rate of heterosexual people (39.1% vs. 17.1%).
Here are a few other statistics this institute found on substance abuse, particularly in the LGBT community:
- In 2013, LGBT adults were found to have a higher binge drinking percentage than that of heterosexual adults.
- LGBT adolescents were found to be 90% more likely to use substances than heterosexual adolescents.
- LGBT people have a greater likelihood than non-LGBT persons of experiencing a substance use disorder (SUD) in their lifetime, and they often enter treatment with more severe SUDs.
Why is This Community so Susceptible to Addiction?
Why is there such a drastic difference when it comes to substance abuse statistics between the LGBT and heterosexual communities? There are a few big factors that can help us see why the numbers are so drastically different. Here are some of the most important things to consider when talking about substance abuse in the LGBT community:
Sexual Minority = Stress
Being in the sexual minority means you are bound to have stereotypes and discrimination circling around you. People all around the world with more conservative ideologies still see the LGBT community as something very wrong. This can cause serious stress for someone in this community. This kind of stress can also be called ‘Minority Stress’. Stigmas, criticism, discrimination, abuse, and prejudice are all things people in the LGBT community face every day. Even people living in the progressive society in the U.S. still face these criticisms.
Because of these negative reactions, individuals in the LGBT community may start to feel what they’re doing is wrong, some may even start to hate their sexuality and question why they are the way they are. They may feel misunderstood or lost; this can cause serious mental health problems which may result in substance abuse. Some people in this community may even face physical/verbal abuse for their lifestyle choices.
Discrimination at Work
One of the biggest issues LGBT people face is discrimination in the workplace. Here are some statistics on LGBT discrimination in the workplace. This data reveals what LGBT members face in the workplace, showing how levels of stress may increase:
- One-fifth (20%) of LGBTQ Americans has experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for jobs.
- Over a quarter (27%) of the transgender population said they were not hired, were fired, or were not promoted in 2015 due to their gender identity or expression
- Nearly two-thirds (62%) of LGBT employees heard lesbian and gay jokes at work, while 43% heard bisexual jokes and 40% heard transgender jokes.
- Fear prevents LGBT employees from bringing their full selves to work. Nearly three quarters (70%) of non-LGBT employees believe it is “unprofessional” to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace.
Discrimination in Home Life
Though LGBT communities may face discrimination in the workplace, they’ll be safe at home right? Sometimes yes, but this is not always true. 4 in 10 LGBT youth say that they live in communities where the people do not accept the LGBT community. 26% of LGBT youth say their biggest worry in school is being accepted by their peers, families, and teachers. They also worry about bullying by those who do not accept their lifestyle. 73% of LGBT youth say they are more honest about their true selves online rather than in the real world. This is not a healthy way to live. It is no wonder that LGBT members fall into addiction based off of these statistics.
From workplace and community discrimination to high levels of stress, it is no wonder why substance abuse rates are so much higher for LGBT members than heterosexual individuals. Living in fear, facing public discrimination, feeling like you’re trapped in your own mind; this can all take a very serious toll on a person’s confidence, well-being, and mental health. Thankfully, steps have been taken in the U.S. to ensure that people in these communities receive equal treatment/acceptance. However, there is still a long way to go before discrimination is completely gone. In the meantime, know that Sober Living AZ is accepting of any and all persons, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. Reach out today to find out more about our programs and services.
Content for Sober Living Arizona by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment and technology. Advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media
If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact Sober Living of AZ now to get the help you need. Sober Living offers an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare. Call us now at 602-737-2458.