Members of the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, etc.) community face a number of varying obstacles throughout their lives. These challenges contribute to a high rate of psychological damage. For many of these individuals, this can include the development of a substance use disorder. Substance use disorder has become a national epidemic throughout many different groups of people, due to a number of environmental and social factors. The LGBTQ+ community is, unfortunately, no exception.
Someone who identifies as a sexual or gender minority will statistically face more discrimination throughout their lives in comparison to heterosexuals. Some forms of discrimination commonly experienced in this community include; bullying, physical and emotional abuse, religious discrimination, and even discrimination in the health care industry. When you take all of these factors into consideration, it is plain to see why there is a prevalence of substance abuse within this community.
Discrimination as it Relates to Substance Use Disorder
Our society as a whole has made great strides to create an atmosphere of complete equality for all people. However, there is still work to do. The Human Rights Campaign reports that 42% of LGBTQ+ youth say that they do not feel accepted in the community that they live in. Similarly, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that there was a 17% increase in hate crimes towards people in the LGBTQ+ community in 2017.
People who suffer from substance use disorders or addictions are typically attempting to escape from their current reality. Therefore, growing up in a world where you don’t feel accepted and are in constant fear for your life because of your identity can certainly contribute to the development of an addiction.
LGBTQ+ community discrimination statistics:
- 34% of youth experience bullying on school grounds due to their sexual orientation alone.
- 28% report experiencing cyberbullying
- 27% have experienced physical assault at school due to their sexual orientation
- 13% have experienced physical assault solely due to their gender identity
- 85% have experienced verbal harassment due to their sexual orientation
- 58% report feeling unsafe at school due to their sexual orientation
- 43% have felt unsafe at school due to their gender identity
- 54% of transgender adults have reported verbal harassment
- 34% of transgender adults reported being physically assaulted
- 17% of transgender youths left school due to extreme discrimination and harassment
Without proper coping mechanisms and therapy that often come at a high cost, discrimination and bullying can lead to the development of an array of mental health issues. Substance use disorder is often coupled with co-occurring disorders because users attempt to self-medicate their mental illnesses. The prevalence of mental illness caused by the trauma and discrimination that the LGBTQ+ community face often causes the development of substance use disorder or addiction.
The LGBTQ+ Community and Addiction
Considering all the contributing factors to addiction that LGBTQ+ people face, without the education and treatment needed many of these people will suffer in silence. It is common for people to be in denial in regard to them having a substance use disorder or an addiction. Because of this, keeping an open line of communication and educational resources on addiction is extremely vital for the health and safety of this community.
According to research from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), sexual minorities in their adulthood are twice more likely to use illicit substances than heterosexual adults. Even more shocking, young adults who identify as sexual minorities are roughly 90% more likely to abuse substances than their heterosexual counterparts. As can be seen, this community suffers from addiction on a larger scale than the heterosexual community. This is not to negate any other community’s hardships or struggles with the disease of addiction. However, this is intended to outline the need for upgraded treatment resources for people of the LGBTQ+ community who struggle.
Addiction Treatment Specific to LGBTQ+ People
Undoubtedly, making the decision to go to an addiction treatment center can be extremely intimidating. When you are a part of a community that faces a high amount of discrimination and harassment, turning over your power to medical professionals can produce even more pressure. In light of this, some addiction treatment specialists have begun to create inclusive treatment centers for those who identify as gender and sexual minorities.
These treatment centers focus on an array of issues that directly affect people of the LGBTQ+ community that other treatment centers often overlook. For example, they often focus on addressing the learned self-hatred that is taught by society to these individuals. This is in order to address the underlying issues of each patient’s addiction to promote a better foundation of long-term sobriety.
What to look for when seeking LGBTQ+ addiction treatment:
- Compassionate staff who are educated on the systematic and social discrimination that the LGBTQ+ community face
- Awareness of transphobia and creating an inclusive and safe environment for Trans people, including the option to reside on-site according to their gender identity
- The option for dual-diagnosis treatment for those in need
- Knowledge of how to manage hormonal therapy for transgender patients
- Personalized treatment plans and therapies
- Providing vital testing for sexually and intravenously transmitted diseases
- Proper aftercare planning that takes into consideration each patient’s lifestyle, gender, and sexual identities
When seeking treatment, it is vital for your recovery to ensure that you find a treatment center that fits all of your needs. Doing research on multiple treatment centers before making a decision on where to go is always advisable. Recovery is possible for every single addict, no matter a person’s gender identity, sexual orientation, financial status, or race. Finding a treatment center that is able and willing to tailor a personalized treatment plan for you will statistically make the recovery process as smooth as possible.
Kailey Fitzgerald is a writer in the recovery community. She has found passion in helping to spread awareness for issues such as addiction, mental health, and trauma.
Tags: addiction, Cleveland, community, lake county, lake county mental health, lake county ohio, lgbtq, mental health, mental health ohio, mental health treatment, mental illness, Ohio, Treatment