The LGBTQ community has been historically under-represented in addiction recovery services and substance abuse research for decades. For people who identify as lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual or queer, a negative social stigma and intense discrimination have been the unfortunate norm that sadly differentiates them from the “normal” heterosexual population. Due to the deeply-rooted social discrimination against the LGBTQ community, sexual minorities are also more likely to be at risk for a variety of other behavioral health issues besides just the addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Members of the LGBTQ community are more likely to experience issues with mental health and substance abuse than the heterosexual population, on average.
While sexual orientation is by no means a new concept, federally-funded research has only begun to look at trends and statistics affecting the LGBTQ community. In 2015, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) included 2 questions on sexual orientation for the first time, which made it the first nationally-representative survey of substance use and mental health trends ever collected. The study found that sexual-minorities were more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to experience substance use and mental health issues. This trend appears to be true across all different subgroups, regardless of variables like age group or gender identity.
Trauma is an important factor concerning substance abuse for any group of individuals and the LGBTQ community is no different. People who identify as LGBTQ often exhibit a pattern of significant and seemingly frequent experiences with early childhood trauma, school bullying, family conflicts and even something as awful as hate crime. Because addiction is a mental disease, coping or self-medicating for instances of trauma and stressful experiences through using alcohol or drugs are frequent occurrences. All of these factors tend to correlate significantly with an increased rate of drug or alcohol abuse.
Being “different” can be a difficult and traumatic experience, especially for teens and young adults. Social acceptance and inclusion tend to be a major factor affecting the mental health of human beings. People who identify as LGBTQ often face social challenges on a daily basis. It is therefore completely understandable when they attempt to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to compensate for internal and external feelings of prejudice or negative judgments.
Anxiety and loneliness are feelings commonly experienced within the LGBTQ community as a result of the negative stigma and discrimination that is projected upon this already vulnerable group of people. Sometimes, internalized homophobia or self-hatred is experienced by individuals who are uncomfortable or have not yet fully-accepted themselves and their own personal, sexual preferences. This can all cause an increase in the likelihood of problems, including mental health issues and substance use disorders.
Fear of rejection is major contributor to the development of emotional and behavioral disorders, including addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Depression, anxiety disorder, high levels of stress, tendencies to induce self-harm and even suicidal thoughts are all common experiences for individuals who identify as LGBTQ. These mental health issues are often compounded with the variety of physical conditions that are more common in the LGBTQ community. These physical conditions include: sexual assault, HIV, sexual dysfunction or compulsive sexual behaviors. All of these can induce greater levels of stress and self-doubt for individuals, all of which may cause them to be more prone to develop an addiction to a wide variety of legal and illicit substances.
With the unique factors associated with addictive disorders affecting the LGBTQ community, it is of utmost importance to address these within the addiction treatment programs for members of this population. No one person is the same, so any effective addiction treatment should be administered from an individualized, personal approach. Using this culturally-sensitive approach to substance abuse treatment can greatly benefit members of the LGBTQ community.
A co-occurring disorder may be present in people from the LGBTQ community, requiring a dual diagnosis focused treatment program.
Although society as a whole has come a long way in accepting members of the LGBTQ community, discrimination is definitely still a common factor for these individuals. This will often lead to the individual feeling the need to live a “closeted life”. While we now see LGBTQ characters in film and television as our “normal” counterparts in society, many are still very afraid to completely be open about who they truly are inside. This can cause someone to live a sort of double-life, hiding their true identity from others as they attempt to navigate interpersonal, family, work or other social relationships. Again, keeping your identity as a secret from others can be incredibly detrimental to a person’s individual mental health.
All of this can lead to a variety of predominant, underlying mental health issues, that when combined with a substance use disorder become much more difficult to treat. When you are looking for a treatment program to address your substance abuse, you should consider a facility that includes a dual-diagnosis treatment option. Research has shown that treating both the mental health issue, along with the addiction is the most likely option to generate a successful recovery.
10 Acre Ranch serves the diverse needs of LGBTQ individuals with our social-model of addiction treatment.
While members of the LGBTQ community exhibit a higher rate of substance abuse than those of the heterosexual population, there are surprisingly few addiction treatment programs focused on their unique needs. A negative stigma also surrounds individuals who have an addiction to drugs or alcohol. This all has created a culture of fear, which can likely prevent them from asking for the help they so desperately need.
At 10 Acre Ranch, we employ a social model of addiction recovery, which helps us create a nurturing, understanding community within the confines of our treatment center. Our addiction treatment programs are all focused on compassion and healing, which can help our clients rebuild their lives, free from the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you or someone close to you is experiencing an uncontrollable addiction to drugs or alcohol and they want help, look no further. The experts at 10 Acre Ranch are a compassionate, caring community who are focused on helping individuals achieve a lifetime of sobriety.
Give us a call today! Our addiction helpline is completely private and confidential and we are available to help you 24/7, or whenever you are ready.