LGBTQ Community High Addiction Rates May Be Caused by Prejudice
There seems to always be some sort of struggle for the gay and transgender communities. Sure, they’ve come a long way over the years, and many more people are accepting of the LGBTQ community, but there are still those who will discriminate and choose to look at this group in a negative way.
When it comes to equality, there are plenty of communities who are not in favor of equal rights when it comes to the gay community. Though sexual orientation may not be a big issue in many states, many do not realize that there are 29 states that still can legally deny a homosexual employment or fire them due to their sexual orientation.
The LGBTQ community and drug abuse rates
It’s no secret that the LGBTQ population is more likely to turn to alcohol and drugs over heterosexuals. Why? A large majority of them have a tough time accepting their own sexual orientation due to the stigma and negative beliefs of many people in society. Some are discriminated against and not accepted by even their own family and friends.
Here are some statistics for four different LGBTQ groups:
- Gay and transgender individuals are 200% more likely to use tobacco.
- On average, about 10% of heterosexual individuals use alcohol compared to 25% of the gay and transgender community.
- Gay men are almost 10 times more likely to abuse heroin, three and a half times more likely to use marijuana, and over 12 times more likely to abuse amphetamines. The higher use of methamphetamine worries clinicians, as that has been linked to a higher risk of HIV transmission among bisexual and gay men.
What are the reasons the LGBTQ community are turning more to alcohol and drugs?
Substance abuse professionals assert that there are three primary reasons for the differences between the LGBTQ community and heterosexual community.
1. The stress that comes along with being discriminated against when it comes to employers and or family is a big factor in turning to alcohol and drugs. It is painful to be discriminated against solely based on what gender you are attracted to. Being rejected by a potential employer or family and friends can be extremely painful, as well as being victimized by peers or a community. To cope with the pain, many people turn to alcohol or drugs.
2. Much of the healthcare system does not know how to cater to the LGBTQ community. Healthcare providers often times do not know how to treat the LGBTQ community. They have sensitive issues that need expert care, and not every treatment center offers that. There for many in the LGBTQ community that won’t even go to the medical community, instead they will resort to self-medicating.
3. Gay-friendly bars and clubs are promoted heavily, so many in the LGBTQ community will attend these social places in order to feel accepted. Unfortunately, at these establishments, there is alcohol served, so it’s really easy to become a regular and drink regularly as well. That drinking can lead to substance abuse, as well as a connection with others who are alcoholics or drug addicts.
A higher number of LGBTQ suffering from dual diagnosis
According to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, about 92% of the LGBTQ treatment center patients who attend the facility are dually diagnosed. This means that they were not only diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder but a mental health disorder as well. Some were diagnosed with depression, while others were diagnosed with things like anxiety disorders, bipolar, personality disorder, and so on. It was also noted that there was a higher percentage in the LGBTQ crowd that had suicidal thoughts or intentions.
For this reason, it is vital that alcohol and drug addiction rehabs have qualified staff that can cater to the LGBT community. Just addressing the substance abuse disorder is not enough. Often, there is an underlying mental health condition, and that condition needs to be treated at the same time. Not only will there need to be counseling during a rehab stay, but a long-term recovery plan ought to be put into place before the patient leaves the rehab. This oftentimes involves creating a relapse prevention plan, including a plan to secure a support network in one’s community. This could mean attending a support group like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, having consistent counseling sessions, or getting involved in a religious or spiritual community.
It has been found that there is a good number of substance abuse professionals in treatment centers that have a negative view of the LGBTQ community. Others simply fail to recognize the unique needs of the LGBTQ community. This can certainly affect the outcome for the person receiving services. If a patient feels rejected in any fashion from medical staff, chances are he or she won’t open up and receive the treatment necessary to overcome the addiction or mental illness.
One treatment factor that is highly important is a non-judgmental and compassionate attitude toward the LGBT community. The medical staff at each treatment center ought to be trained to be attentive to the unique needs of the LGBTQ community, and monitored for their attitude and behavior of the population.
The numbers aren’t always accurate when it comes to treatment facilities offering such unique services to the LGBTQ community. In fact, in 2007 a study was conducted for the 854 facilities that claim to have a unique program geared toward LGBT crowd. In a follow-up of these programs, only 7% of them actually confirmed having such specialized services at their facility. This means that there are a good many facilities that are simply talking the talk but not walking the walk.
Outcomes in treatment
There haven’t been many studies when it comes to treatment outcomes between heterosexuals and homosexuals struggling with substance abuse. The studies that have been done indicate that there is not much of a difference between the LGBTQ community and heterosexuals. The belief is that anyone regardless of sexuality is able to recover from the disease of addiction with the right tools and hard work. Though the LGBTQ crowd may have some different issues to deal with because of their sexual orientation, with the right tools and help they are able to recover from substance abuse.
Seeking a gay-friendly LGBTQ treatment center
If you or a loved one belong to the LGBTQ community and are struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drug abuse, know that there is LGBTQ treatment available. There are alcohol and drug rehabs that will cater to the LGBTQ community. Your journey will begin by researching the various treatment centers that are welcoming and affirming of all sexuality orientations.
Doing a quick Google search on LGBTQ treatment centers will give you a list of rehabs that proclaim to take into special consideration that unique needs of the gay community. Granted, some may only be advertising that they have specialized programs, so do your part and communicate with the staff members to see just how specialized they are. You can also look to see if there are any reviews online regarding a particular LGBTQ treatment center.
One thing that’s great about a treatment center that caters to the LGBTQ community is that you be able to be with others who may be struggling with the same types of sexual orientation issues. There may even be specialized support groups at the LGBTQ treatment center or specialized counselors for the population. You may learn things like how to respond in healthy ways to rejection, discrimination, or homophobia. You may be taught how to reconnect with friends or family members that you’ve lost connection with due to your sexual orientation. If you are struggling with your sexual identity, you may be able to discuss this with a mental health professional and better come to terms with who you are. You may get advice as to how to come out to family and friends. You’ll also be able to get help if you have any mental health disorders like depression or anxiety disorders.
LGBTQ Treatment: Take your first step toward recovery
If you’re struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, know that there is help available. You do not have to live your life depending on a substance to get you through or to numb the pain. There is freedom available to those who are willing to admit that they’re struggling and reach out for help.
Take your first step today and begin researching LGBTQ treatment centers. Make some calls and have a sincere conversation, asking any questions that you have about the treatment process and how its unique for the gay friendly community. Addiction is a disease of the brain and there is treatment for it, so give yourself permission to get professional help.
If you cannot locate an LGBTQ treatment center, realize that you can still receive helpful treatment at virtually any alcohol or drug rehab. The important thing is that you begin treatment for the alcohol or drug addiction. Once you get off of the substances, you can then begin to deal more effectively with any other issues you are having.
There are millions of struggling alcoholics and drug addicts out there. Don’t be one of them. Instead, do your part in reaching out for help, and be the example that others that are struggling need. There is hope!