Unfortunately, drug addiction and alcoholism are wide spread problems that effect people from every walk of life. Addiction doesn’t discriminate based on race, religion, gender, or sexual preference. Addicts and alcoholics in the gay community struggle with addiction at much higher rates, however, and often find themselves facing challenges that other addicts never have to face.
When it comes to drug abuse, it is difficult to be entirely accurate. However, experts estimate that anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of people who identify as LGBTQ abuse at least one drug. The rates of drug abuse for those who don’t identify as LGBTQ have abuse rates of 9%.
For many of those in the gay community who abuse alcohol of other drugs, the reasons behind the abuse stem from hardships that come with being gay in a society that doesn’t always accept the lifestyle. This makes it more difficult for LGBTQ people seeking treatment to receive the right kind of care, which means that there is a higher number of relapse among LGBTQ people, since their support system can be harder to come by.
The use of party drugs, and especially heavy use of crystal meth, among homosexual men has been blamed for the spread of the AIDS virus in recent years. Meth is often mixed with alcohol by gay men. Unfortunately, those who abuse drugs are more likely to make irresponsible decisions, and many men who are under the influence of substances will engage in unsafe sex with strangers. This contributes not only to the spread of AIDS and HIV, but many other sexually transmitted diseases.
Studies are currently being conducted on why lesbians seem to have a higher than typical rate of abusing alcohol. The most current research shows that hazardous drinking is a symptom of being victimized in one form or another. Lesbian women can experience victimization in one form or another more intensely than those who do not identify as LGBTQ.
The issue of LGBTQ health does not seem to get enough attention in the equality movement. While the conversation does typically involve suicide rates and mental health of the LGBTQ community, it is rare that substance abuse in the community is discussed. Recent studies have shown that while only about 9 percent of the general population suffers from substance abuse issues, 20 to 30 percent of the LGBTQ community suffers from substance abuse issues.
It’s not surprising that the stress and pressure associated with discrimination and stigma is a cause for this large amount of substance abuse. LGBTQ are turning to alcohol and other substances in large numbers as a way to escape from these stressors. So what is the solution to this problem? We have several thoughts on this issue.
If we want to decrease the rates of substance use in the LGBTQ community, we need to have a short-term and a long-term strategy. In the short term, treatment programs and rehabilitation centers need to become accessible for all addicts and alcoholics–including those in the LGBTQ community. In the long term, we need to urge our politicians and lawmakers to do more to fight discrimination and inequality in this country. We also need to better educate the youth so that true equality will be the way of the future.
We could do this in several ways. For example, we could create federal protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. We could also incorporate social justice and equality courses in our middle and high schools so that our youth are educated in a way that will help them to accept the diverse landscape of the present and the future.
There is a lot to do in the fight to end substance abuse in the LGBTQ community. Addressing this problem has its difficulties, but it is a necessary step on the road to true equality. If you or a loved one is having substance abuse problems, it is absolutely essential that you seek out a rehabilitation facility like to get the treatment you deserve.