LGBTQ and substance abuse

How Substance Use Disorder Affects the LGBTQ Community

Sadly, no community has been left untouched by the effects of substance dependence. Many people all over the world and from varying backgrounds are currently experiencing the impact of addiction and the challenges that this disorder brings. So, unfortunately, members of the LGBTQ community are also subject to the difficulties that occur with the development of alcoholism and drug misuse. 

However, by bringing more awareness to this issue, individuals can find hope and healing through recovery. Thankfully, here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, we work to offer treatment to everyone who comes to us for help, regardless of sexual orientation or gender. We believe part of providing hope and help to those who need it is to begin raising awareness and sharing information about the prevalence and effects of addiction within the LGBTQ community.

Addiction Defined: What Is It and How Does It Affect Those Who Suffer From It?

A substance use disorder (SUD), commonly referred to as “addiction”, is a disorder that causes individuals to depend on alcohol or drugs. Those who suffer from SUDs may be physically dependent on drugs or alcohol. They may also become physiologically pr psychologically dependent on these substances.

Substance use disorders develop after individuals use alcohol or drugs for an extended period of time. For instance, if a person uses alcohol for a while, he or she may build a tolerance for the substance. This means that the individual’s body becomes so accustomed to the effects of alcohol that it requires more of the substance in order to elicit the same physical and emotional responses within the body.

Sometimes, those who have a substance dependence may not even realize the presence of the disorder. But, it is important to note the signs and symptoms of addiction in order to speedily get help and treatment.

Types of Addiction

There are many types of substance use disorders. Some of the substances people may use and become dependent on may include the following:

Using these substances can lead to the development of an addiction. So, those who regularly use drugs or alcohol may find themselves struggling with substance dependence and its effects. When this occurs, it is absolutely necessary for individuals to seek professional help immediately.

The Prevalence of Substance Use in the LGBTQ Community

Substance use and dependence have certainly made their presence known in the lives of many LGBTQ individuals. Professionals estimate that between 20-30% of those within the LGBTQ community suffer from substance misuse. This is in comparison to about 9% of the general population.

One study found that students who are transgender are 2.5 times more likely than others to use cocaine or meth. Also, transgender students are also 2 times as likely to misuse prescription drugs (including prescription opioids or benzodiazepines).

When it comes to alcohol use, studies say that 20-25% of the LGBTQ community have an alcohol dependency, both moderate and severe. In regards to heroin use, members of the LGBTQ community are 9.5 times more likely heterosexual individuals to use heroin.

According to data from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, adults in the LGBTQ community were more than two times as likely as heterosexual adults to have used any illicit drug in the past year. This equates to 39.1% of LGBTQ adults as opposed to 17.1% of heterosexual adults.

LGBTQ individuals are 12.2 times more likely than others to use amphetamines. Nearly one-third of sexual minority adults used marijuana in the past year. This equates to about 30.7% compared to 12.9%of heterosexual adults.

About 1 in 10 (10.4%) of individuals in the LGBTQ community misused prescription pain relievers in comparison to 4.5% of heterosexual adults.

Causes of Addiction Amongst LGBTQ Members

Addiction develops for different reasons. Each individual who suffers from substance dependence has unique life experiences and genetic factors that could contribute to the development of addiction. However, some of the reasons why people suffer from substance misuse and dependence may include general factors such as:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Peer pressure
  • Environmental factors
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Physical health complications (i.e. chronic pain)

When it comes to members of the LGBTQ community who suffer from drug and alcohol dependence, the causes of addiction may be very specifically related to the challenges many individuals face on a regular basis.

For instance, unfortunately, countless LGBTQ individuals know the pain of loneliness and rejection all too well. As a result of these negative emotions, many people enter a low mental state, possibly developing depression or turning to substance use for relief. 

Also, the sad truth is that many individuals within the LGBTQ community have experienced sexual trauma. The effects of these horrifying experiences can certainly lead to drug or alcohol misuse and dependence.

Another possible cause of substance use and dependence could be related to self-image. Sadly, people within the LGBTQ community often struggle with feelings of low self-esteem and even self-hatred. These harmful ways of thinking can lead individuals to feel overwhelmed and alone. These emotions, in turn, can result in excessive alcohol or drug use as a coping method.

Addressing Specific Needs in Treatment for Substance Use Disorder

Mental health disorders often co-occur with substance use disorders among those in the LGBTQ community. Individuals within the community often struggle with mental health disorders such as stress, depression, and anxiety. Many of them also show signs of suicidal ideation or even suicide attempts. Self-harm also commonly occurs among LGBTQ individuals.

Due to the challenges many LGBTQ individuals encounter on a regular basis, the effects of addiction can become even more difficult to manage. However, despite the evident difficulties, many people do not seek professional assistance in overcoming addiction. 

This happens for varying reasons. Firstly, a person who is suffering from addiction may not feel as though their needs will be addressed. Some may not feel comfortable with the idea of going through a residential or inpatient treatment program. On the other hand, some people may not feel extremely comfortable with the idea of going through an outpatient program.

Also, some individuals who are looking for addiction treatment may wish to find gender-specific programs. They may also be interested in getting treatment that is age-specific and age-geared, whether for seniors or young adults.

Finding the Right Addiction Treatment Center for Your Needs

While searching for a treatment center for substance use disorder, it is essential to find a facility that best suits your needs. To do that, it is important to first identify your needs and determine the best ways to meet those requirements.

If you are suffering from a mental health disorder in addition to substance dependence, it is best to seek help from a dual diagnosis program. A dual diagnosis treatment program works to identify and address co-occurring disorders simultaneously. This is important because addressing only one disorder without treating the other can lead to relapse. Or, at the very least, this approach could prevent the individual from overcoming the unaddressed disorder.

You may also want to consider whether or not a treatment center offers inpatient and outpatient programs. Some individuals require around-the-clock care as they begin their journeys to freedom from addiction. So, having access to a comprehensive residential program can prove to be absolutely essential.

On the other hand, some individuals may need to tend to other responsibilities outside of treatment. These may include duties at home, school, work, or other obligations. In these cases, outpatient services may be best suited for individuals who wish to end substance dependence. 

Distance is one more component you may need to consider when looking for a facility. It’s important to determine whether or not you would like to travel to treatment or attend a local recovery center.

Contact Sana Lake Recovery Center Today!

If you or someone you know is suffering from a substance use disorder, please know that there is hope. Here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, our mission is to provide individuals with the resources and services they need in order to overcome the impact of substance dependence. 

Whether you are struggling with alcohol use disorder or drug dependence, we are here to help you. Our goal is to equip our members with the tools they need as they begin walking on the path to lifelong recovery and freedom from addiction. We understand that this journey is full of many challenges and hurdles.

Our team also understands that these challenges are often only intensified by the presence of other unrelated difficulties that may arise in a person’s life. As mentioned before, we understand that many members of the LGBTQ community face challenges that may not be comparable to any of those that other individuals may encounter. But, we strive to make the recovery process accessible and successful for every individual who comes to our facility.

The road to recovery is never simple or easy. Many complications and challenges occur on this journey. But, throughout your time in our treatment programs here at Sana Lake, you can be sure that you will receive encouragement and guidance from our professional and understanding team members.

Unfortunately, many addiction treatment facilities fail to understand the needs of individuals within the LGBTQ community in regards to recovery. But we work tirelessly to make sure each of our members has exactly what is necessary to ensure a successful recovery. So, if you need help ending substance use in your life, please contact us today. Allow us to assist you as you shift your focus to a life that is addiction-free!