A LIFE OF FREEDOM AND HAPPINESS IS POSSIBLE.

You can start your recovery with us today.

Back to Blog

Substance Misuse and Co-Occurring Disorders in the LGBTQ Community

Friday, June 7, 2019

Around the world, the LGBTQ community celebrates Pride Month in June. However, while the LGBTQ community has made great strides toward achieving equality with their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts, there is still much opportunity for progress. One noteworthy area is in addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, which disproportionately affect LGBTQ people.

How Vulnerable Are LGBTQ People to These Issues?

2015 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows a clear connection between sexual orientation, gender identity and substance misuse. More than twice as many LGBTQ adults compared to heterosexual adults reported using drugs, smoking cigarettes or binge drinking.

Additionally, LGBTQ adults are much more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to have depression, anxiety or other emotional or behavioral problems and to think about or attempt suicide, all of which increase the risk of substance use. Why?

Factors That Contribute to LGBTQ Mental Health and Addiction Issues

While the U.S. has made promising strides in gay rights over the past 50 years, many LGBTQ individuals still face social prejudice and other daily indignities those who identify as heterosexual and cisgender typically do not encounter, including:

  • Discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Hate crimes, emotional abuse, threats or public humiliation
  • Estrangement from family or friends after coming out
  • Loss of employment or not receiving promotions
  • Internalized homophobia or self-loathing

Consider, for example, the “bathroom bills” many states have recently tried to pass to prevent transgender people from using the public restroom or locker room that matches their gender identity. The pernicious myth that letting trans people use these facilities would lead to higher rates of sexual predation has been disproven time and time again, but it persists regardless.

LGBTQ people are also subject to discriminatory laws in employment, housing, health care and relationship recognition – including legal hurdles to adopting children. For these and other reasons, many people in this community struggle with their identities because they fear encountering backlash from friends and family members. This intense level of chronic stress can lead to higher levels of anxiety, fear, isolation and anger, which can increase the chances they will turn to alcohol and other drugs to self-medicate.

Co-Occurring Disorders in the LGBTQ Community

One aspect that may be an intense source of conflict for LGBTQ people is their perceived need to lead a double life, hiding their true sexual orientation or gender identity from some while being themselves around others. This dual nature creates a significant psychological rift that may lead them to develop emotional disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD and suicidal ideation.

Many individuals who identify as LGBTQ also have a co-occurring mental or physical health disorder that either led to a substance misuse problem or is perpetuating the cycle of abuse. When members of the LGBTQ community are weighing treatment options, they should focus on finding holistic treatment programs that work on healing them physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Women’s-Only Rehab in Arizona

If you are looking for a drug or alcohol treatment program, you deserve to find one that not only makes you feel comfortable, but also offers you the highest chance of achieving sustained sobriety. Commemorate Pride Month 2019 by making this the month you commit to breaking free of your substance abuse problems and co-occurring disorders. At Canyon Crossing, we are here to help you find happiness and integrity in your life. To learn more or verify your insurance, contact our admissions team today.

Back to Blog