LGBTQ Community and Addiction
Every community in America has its own aspects that impact substance abuse. Some subcultures encourage drinking, for instance, while others are focused on other substances. Some groups, such as Native Americans, even have a genetic disposition towards dependency according to research. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community (LGBTQ) also has issues regarding substance abuse that often negatively impact its members. In fact, LGBTQ persons are impacted by addiction at rates between two and three times the average.
Addiction and Trauma
Addiction is very frequently tied to traumas and members of the LGBTQ community have certainly seen their share of trauma. From the taunting and teasing of adolescence to outright physical battering by random thugs, many LGBTQ people have been the victim of horrible treatment from their peers and others. The isolation of being different from the rest of society is itself a form of trauma that causes incredible stress on a daily basis for members of the LGBTQ community.
Historically, LGBTQ people have felt the need to hide their true identities behind a “straight” mask. Unable to express their true personality and sexuality, they have turned to substance abuse to ease the pain of every day. Some have gone as far as to marry straight partners in the hopes that their true selves will change once they become parents. However, this never happens and the stress and internalized traumas of everyday life build and build. With no one to talk to or anywhere to go, the bottle, pill, or needle becomes the best friend of a marginalized subculture.
Minority Stress Model
The minority stress model has been applied to the LGBTQ community to explain its unusually high rates of abuse. This is a theory that states that the mere fact of being a minority in society creates stresses that are not felt by the majority. Gay men, for instance, are ten times more likely to abuse heroin, and 25 percent of the LGBTQ community abuses alcohol. This is attributed to the fact that daily life for these people is often filled with straight people who discriminate against, harass, and abuse them on a regular basis. Often, there is no recourse to like-minded peers and a great deal of isolation and pain impacts them, and the only relief seems to be mind-altering substances.
The LGBT community justifiably feels marginalized in all quarters of society, including healthcare. This, in turn, impacts their ability to reach out to seek help for drug and alcohol abuse. Since many community members already feel stigmatized, they resist becoming vulnerable for their substance problems, too. Since many in society already see them as decadent and self-indulgent, it is hard to admit to a genuine addiction problem when they are likely to be blamed for a moral shortcoming rather than as having a real disease with real causes apart from the content of their character.
Hope for the Future
As society evolves and matures, we hope that the LGBTQ community will find greater acceptance. The military has opened up to gay soldiers and gay marriage is legal nationwide. There are more and more gay characters in film and television, too, which further normalizes this segment of the population. The future looks bright, but in the meantime, we hope that everyone who suffers from addiction is able to receive the help they need.
At KLEAN Treatment Centers we work with the issues specific to the LGBTQ community. We offer support for both the physical and mental issues specific to this group. In our caring and non-judgemental milieu, we help you heal from the underlying issues faced by the LGBTQ community specifically. Our LGBTQ-friendly drug rehab facilities respect the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. We also connect you with resources and support groups specific to the LGBTQ population. Not only is our staff a mix of straight and gay, our facility is located in West Hollywood, the epicenter of gay life in Los Angeles. There are recovery meetings around the clock at the LGBTQ center down the street from our center as well.
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