LGBTQIA+ and Addiction

LGBTQIA+ and Addiction

Members of the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex and Asexual) community face a number of challenges that can put them at a higher risk for substance abuse. Unfortunately, it happens all-too-often where LGBTQIA+ and addiction are found within the same sentence. An estimated 20 to 30 percent of the sexual minority community abuses substances compared to 9 percent of the general population. Suicide, too, is much higher in this population, with 40 percent of LGBTQIA youth considering suicide in 2020. 

If you or someone you care about identifies as LGBTQIA+ and is struggling with addiction, contact Continuum Recovery Center. We are sensitive to this population’s needs and the type of support they can benefit from. 

Challenges for the LGBTQIA+ Community 

Even though LGBTQIA+ has grown over time, members still face a number of challenges and setbacks. This population has long suffered from discrimination, maltreatment and even terrorism, contributing to higher rates of depression, substance abuse and addiction. And while there is growing public acceptance for those who identify as LGBTQIA+, this doesn’t erase all of the hurdles these individuals face. 

Let’s take a closer look at the challenges in this community. 

Challenges in the LGBTQIA+ Community

Prejudice and Discrimination 

Sexual minorities experience prejudice when others make assumptions about them based on their orientation. These assumptions are usually not true and end up promoting a stigma around being gay or lesbian. 

Sometimes the prejudice goes even further and causes LGBTQIA+ individuals to be discriminated against. For example, some LGBTQIA+ workers have reported losing a promotion based on their orientation. Others report difficulty accessing housing, insurance or education. 

Widespread prejudice and discrimination take a toll on a person and increase their risk for mental health problems and substance abuse. 

Rejection from friends and family 

Another hardship that LGBTQIA+ members sometimes experience is rejection from loved ones. Coming out as gay or bisexual can be met with resistance. Older generations often struggle with the concept of being something other than heterosexual and may not be ready to accept their loved one’s orientation. 

Younger generations are more accepting of LGBTQIA+ individuals, but some social circles are not. It’s still possible to lose friends or have judgement passed for identifying as something other than heterosexual. This rejection is incredibly painful, especially during a time when a person needs their friends and family most. 

Internalized self-hatred 

There is a stigma associated with being a sexual minority which prevents some people from coming out. Instead, they keep this secret bottled up inside and deal with the pain on their own. Unfortunately, what ends up happening is that they live a life that’s not genuine. 

In fact, some people who identify as LGBTQIA+ may not even believe in dating others from the same sex even though they realize they’re not straight. This ends up hurting them more and causing a great deal of strife in their life. As a result, some use drugs and alcohol to cope. 

LGBTQIA+ and Addiction Statistics 

With so many hardships facing members of the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s no surprise that many turn to drugs or alcohol to numb their pain. Sexual minorities are a greater risk for suffering from a mental health disorder than those who are straight. 

To put things into perspective, here are some statistics regarding the LGBTQIA+ community and substance abuse

  • More than a third of sexual minority adults (18 and over) report marijuana use compared to 16.2 percent of the overall adult population
  • Nine percent of sexual minority adults report opioid use compared to 3.8 percent of the general adult population 
  • Nine percent of sexual minority adults report prescription opioid abuse, an increase from 6.4 percent the year prior 
  • LGBTQIA+ individuals often enter treatment with more serious substance use disorders
  • Sexual minorities with substance use disorders are more likely to have additional psychiatric disorders
  • Transgender children and teens report higher levels of depression, self-harm, suicidality and eating disorders than their straight peers 

LGBTQIA+ and Addiction Treatment in Phoenix AZ

While the LGBTQIA+ community certainly has a lot of added pressures, they do respond well to treatment. Specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, contingency management and social support therapy work wonders for this population. Less than 10 percent of treatment facilities offer specialized programs for sexual minorities, but we hope to see this increase over time. 

Holistic addiction treatment is extremely important for anyone with a substance use disorder, but especially so for LGBTQIA+ individuals. This group is often dealing with mental illness and other problems whether they’ve come out or are living a closeted life. The goal of treatment is to help these individuals heal from addiction while treating underlying mental illness. 

During their time in treamtnet, LGBTQIA+ individuals learn ways to cope with the fears of discrimination and insensitivity, as well as discover ways to navigate unacepting families, judgement and identity concerns. Continuum Recovery Center also offers a Family Education Program that provides a safe and supportive space for families to heal. 

Some of the issues that are covered in therapy include: 

  • Discrimination and judgement
  • Unaccepting families 
  • HIV/health issues 
  • Self-coping problems 
  • Co-occurring disorders 
  • Workplace and career concerns 

Seeking Recovery at Continuum Recovery Center 

Continuum Recovery Center is an outpatient rehab in Phoenix, AZ that is comfortable working with the LGBTQIA+ population. We understand the unique struggles this community faces and we work one-on-one to help our clients accept themselves and build a supportive social network. We also clients the tools to cope with the stress and anxiety that comes along with being a sexual minority.