The Sober Living AZ Blog

Drug Addiction in the LGBT Community

Posted on 12/14/18: Addiction Recovery \ Addiction Treatment

Globalization has led to the development of a well-integrated worldwide community today, which was merely a dream before. This well-knitted and deeply connected community has given rise to the awareness of individuality and diversity.

While the celebrations of diversity remain prevalent, absolute (or even partial) acceptance of diversity, particularly in terms of gender and sexual orientation, remains out of sight. Certainly, the LGBT community and its advocates have opened the gates to a new perspective among people— the belief that sex doesn’t determine gender or sexuality. But their efforts have sustained limited success.

In spite of the measures taken to cultivate tolerance at a mass level, public discrimination against the LGBT community prevails. In particular, the transgender unit of the community encounters strong criticisms. Because of continued degradation and rejection of this segment of the LGBT community, there has been a pervasive impact on their mental health and a greater substance abuse by these people.

Statistics on Substance Abuse in General Population and LGBT Community

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Reliable statistics derived from the study conducted by The National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the U.S. offers a detailed examination of the types of drugs abused and patterns of abuse throughout the American population.

The study does not reveal the specific data of substance abuse in the LGBT community but offers context to their use. The 2013 study by The National Survey on Drug Use and Health lists out that:

  • 24.6 million Americans, aged 12 or more, were past-month users of illegal/ recreational drugs such as marijuana, crack cocaine, and prescription medications
  • 19.8 million of the entire population is the past-month user of marijuana
  • In 2012, more than 681,000 Americans of all age groups were using heroin
  • 22.7 million Americans aged 12 or more needed alcohol or substance abuse treatments. However, only 2.5 million actually received it.

LGBT Substance Abuse

The LGBT community comprises of individuals who identify themselves as lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender (females and males) and queers. According to the research conducted by Social Work, it was revealed that substance abuse in the LGBT community of all ages was around 20%-30%, much higher compared to the general population, which was 9%.

Another research conducted by the Center of American Progress revealed that the:

  • Homosexuals (gay and transgender individuals) have 200% higher tobacco consumption than heterosexuals
  • 25% of the homosexuals (gay and transgender individuals) have an alcohol abuse problem compared to the 5%-10% heterosexuals
  • Men in same-sex relationships are 3.5 times more likely to use marijuana than men who are not. These men are also 12.2 times more likely to use amphetamines and 5 times more likely to use heroin than heterosexual (single or in-relationship) men.

According to a research study conducted by the Lesbian Information Service on 87% lesbians and 89% heterosexual women of the population, it was revealed that alcohol abuse was 18% among homosexual and 7% among heterosexual women.

Why Is The LGBT Community at a Higher Risk of Substance Abuse Than the General Population?

Several factors contribute to the heavy reliance on alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse in the LGBT community. However, to address the problem and reach a conclusion, it is important to understand these triggering factors.

  1. Minority Stress

Marginalization and discrimination against minorities have led to ‘Minority Stress.’ Minority stress experienced by the LGBT community is a result of social discrimination, stigmatization, criticism, verbal and physical abuse, and prejudicial laws.

These negative reactions and emotions expressed toward the LGBT community are rooted in the beliefs that homosexuality is somehow ‘bad’, ‘wrong’ or ‘deviant.’ Religious extremists even encourage physical violence against the community for being ‘unholy.’ All these factors negatively affect the LGBT community, boost their stress levels and provoke them to cope with substance abuse.

  1. Workplace Discrimination

In 2011, the American Center of Progress reported that around:

  • 15%-43% of homosexual and transgender persons have experienced workplace discrimination
  • 8%-17% of homosexual or transgender persons report being fired or not hired due to their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • 10%-28% were given a negative appraisal or were not promoted due to their sexuality
  • 7%-41% homosexual or transgender persons experienced verbal or physical abuse at their workplace
  • 90% of transgender individuals experience workplace harassment

This data reveals the truth about workplace discrimination against the LGBT community, which leads to high levels of stress.

  1. Housing Discrimination

Everyone deserves a roof over their head to maintain a safe and healthy lifestyle. However, the LGBT community is denied access to this birthright. In fact, a study reveals that around 56% gay individuals and 70% of transgender individuals experience subtle or obvious forms of discrimination in residencies due to their sexuality or gender identification.

This type of discrimination, just like other forms of prejudice, leads to high levels of stress. Of course, without safe and comfortable housing life can be very difficult. Due to discrimination in housing facilities, the LGBT community experiences other problems as well, such as maintaining a job, education facilities for themselves or their children, accessing medical care and staying close to their loved ones.

Members of the LGBT community continue to suffer. From unemployment to high levels of poverty, sexual assaults, bullying (to them and their children) and suicide attempts, the LGBT community experiences too many traumatic events. Because of the general stigma, platforms that voice their sufferings are also restricted or made unavailable to them.


Collectively, these factors lead to mental trauma and alarmingly high psychological conditions, increasing the community’s reliance on substance abuse. To end this problem, government agencies need to collaborate with NGOs to devise short as well as long-term strategies to completely eradicate substance abuse in both, the LGBT community and the general population.

But before addressing substance abuse as a problem, the triggers of substance abuse need to be highlighted, addressed and expunged from society. If you or a loved one needs assistance or has any additional questions or concerns, contact Sober Living AZ today. Our doors are always open, and our number one mission lies in improving the wellbeing of each and every one of our patients.

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.

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.

Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.

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