October 11th is National Coming Out Day. During this time, we show our support for the well-being of our friends and family in the LGBTQ community. At Schick Shadel Hospital, we believe that addiction treatment programs should show full support and care for members of the LGBTQ community. For National Coming Out Day, we want to highlight some points by which we can better serve LGBTQ individuals who may be struggling with alcohol or drug addiction.
Addiction is an illness that affects people from all walks of life. It can be triggered by many factors including genetics, environment, mental health issues, or substance use disorder. The most common drugs used include alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and others. People who struggle with a drug or alcohol use disorder often turn to these substances as a way to cope with their problems. However, when they become addicted, it’s difficult to stop using them without professional help.
For people in the LGBTQ community, there are studies that suggest that the rates of addiction are actually higher than their heterosexual counterparts.
- An analysis of data from the U.S. census bureau in 2013 found that a higher percentage of LGBTQ individuals reported binge drinking than their heterosexual counterparts.1
- Data from 2015 from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that LGBTQ adults were over twice as likely as heterosexual adults to have used illicit drugs within the past year.2
- An estimated 20-30% of the LGBTQ community abuse substances, compared to about 10% of the general population.3
- On average, the rate at which LGBTQ individuals seek treatment for substance use disorders is lower than other groups.4
This data reveals a major point of concern.
It could be hypothesized that LGBTQ individuals do not feel comfortable seeking out services because of discrimination, lack of knowledge regarding available resources, fear of rejection, or simply being afraid to disclose their sexual orientation.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to either initial or continued substance use, as well as potential barriers to receiving proper care.
Challenges The LGBTQ Community Faces
Homophobia: A common experience among members of the LGBTQ community is being bullied or discriminated against because they identify with their sexual orientation or gender identity. These experiences can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, anger, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and even suicidal thoughts.
Societal Pressure: Many people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning still live in places where homosexuality is illegal. In some countries, same-sex marriage has not been legalized yet.
Stigma & Discrimination: Stigma refers to negative attitudes about certain groups of people based on race, religion, ethnicity, etc. When stigma and discrimination are present in a community, it can make it harder for people to get proper medical care, find employment, receive housing assistance, access education, and other basic needs.
Family Issues: Family acceptance plays a huge role in whether or not someone will seek treatment for addiction. If family members do not accept your sexuality, this can cause stress which can contribute to turning to substance use as a means of coping. This factor especially applies to those who have parents who were abusive towards them due to their sexual orientation.
How Schick Shadel Hospital Can Help
While we take National Coming Out Day as a time to show our support, we are always dedicated to providing compassionate care to people from all walks of life who seek help for substance use disorders. We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your loved ones. We want to provide you with the support you need to make the right decisions for your health.
Schick Shadel Hospital offers a safe space for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and/or gender nonconforming (LGBTQ). Our staff understands that being LGBTQ can be difficult and isolating. We want to make sure that you feel comfortable and supported while getting the help you need.
We offer a variety of programs designed to help you achieve your goals. Our counselors and therapists are highly trained professionals who can assist you in finding the right path toward sobriety. Call us today at 1-800-CRAVING or contact us to learn more.
Substance Use and SUDs in LGBTQ* Populations | National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Retrieved 7 October 2021, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/substance-use-suds-in-lgbtq-populations
- 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (2016). Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (US). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK524967/
- Schuler, M. S., Stein, B. D., & Collins, R. L. (2019). Differences in Substance Use Disparities Across Age Groups in a National Cross-Sectional Survey of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults. LGBT health, 6(2), 68–76. https://doi.org/10.1089/lgbt.2018.0125
- Flentje, A., Livingston, N. A., & Sorensen, J. L. (2016). Meeting the Needs of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients in Substance Abuse Treatment. Counselor (Deerfield Beach, Fla.), 17(3), 54–59.