Why the LGBT Community Experiences Elevated Rates of Addiction

man passed put from doing heroin

Most diseases have what one might refer to as a “target audience.” Essentially, many diseases can only develop in only limited demographics, due to particular circumstances, or as a result of a specific or certain lifestyle. However, addiction is a much less discriminative disease. This could possibly be attributed to how addiction develops, requiring a confluence of factors that can be genetic, environmental, or developmental. While some individuals become addicts due to exposure to substance abuse in childhood or because of a peer group that consists of substance abusers, others make more of a conscious decision to embark on the path that will lead them to active alcoholism or drug addiction.

Much like the way that addiction can develop due to many different reasons, it can also develop in many different types of people. In short, individuals from virtually anywhere on the demographic spectrum can and have fallen prey to the catastrophic power of addiction. Recent years have seen the disease of addiction become a global epidemic with public officials and law enforcement racking their brains for ways to curb this alarming trend. Despite knowing the potential of becoming addicted and high rate at which individuals are developing chemical dependencies, most are surprised to discover that they have become dependent on the alcohol and drugs that had previously been under their control. These individuals often wonder at which point they no longer had control, wishing they could return to that moment and make a different choice that would rob them of their physical health, independence, financial stability, integrity, and morality.

It’s generally accepted that anyone with access to mind-altering, chemical substances are at some level of risk for developing an addiction. However, there are some individuals that are considered at higher risk of developing chemical dependencies. Oftentimes the elevated risk of addiction is due to factors like having a family history of addiction or living in an area where substance abuse is especially common, but there are also instances in which the identified risk factors are more complicated such as the case with the LGBT community. Unfortunately, studies have identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and self-identifying queer individuals—LGBTQ, or LGBT for short—as being one of the highest risk groups for the development of alcohol or drug addiction. In order to understand why these individuals are at a higher risk of addiction that the general population, one must become aware of an important concept called minority stress.

What Is Minority Stress?

Ever since the dawn of human civilization, there has been friction between the few and the many. In short, “many” represents the majority who share basic ideals, values, and expectations while “the few” are those individuals who do not share the majority’s perspective. A more familiar term for the few would be to call them a minority. Today, minorities can exist within the boundaries of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, geographic location, socioeconomic background, and sexual orientation depending on the content. These minorities tend to experience discrimination at the hand of greater society, socially or even physically persecuted and punished for their differences. Although not all individuals considered part of the majority discriminate against minorities, there is inevitably a lot of intolerance in the majority, which is the source of discrimination against minorities.

Minority stress is a term that refers to the mental and emotional effects of the social conflict that members of a minority group experience, particularly with regard to a culture that is largely homophobic and hostile towards those who are deemed to be different. At present, this refers to the stress that members of the LGBT community experience as a direct result of discrimination, hostility, and persecution from the society in which they live. However, the discrimination that these individuals experience can be quite profound and imposing, resulting in the expectation of rejection, the feeling of having to hide or conceal those traits that have made them targets of intolerance, and even self-loathing. According to the theory of minority stress, the discrimination of members of the LGBT community, as well as other minority groups, has been found to cause numerous physical and mental health effects.

lgbt flag

Minority Stress & Elevated Rates of Addiction in the LGBT Community

Of the many reasons that individuals might turn to substance abuse, one of the most common has been using alcohol and drugs to self-medicate. In other words, people become intoxicated using alcohol or drugs in order to cope with their emotional pain and escape from their problems. As such, research has shown that individuals considered sexual minorities such as the LGBT community have substantially elevated rates of addiction, which is due to the minority stress that they experience. In fact, LGBT individuals resort to substance abuse for more reasons than just discrimination, including the stress involved in “coming out,” feelings of shame due to having a family that believes homosexuality is wrong, self-loathing and low self-esteem, and adolescent bullying and harassment.

According to statistics, an astounding 55 percent of all homosexual men struggle with alcohol or drug addiction while LGBT youths are three times more likely to become addicted to drugs than their peers. Due to the persecution and discrimination that LGBT individuals experience both in adolescence and in adulthood, they often feel isolated and abnormal, which has resulted LGBT individuals being statistically much less likely to seek treatment for chemical dependency than others. Perhaps the most enlightening finding of the mounting research on LGBT addiction has been that, compared to roughly 9 to 10 percent of the American population as a whole, between 20 and 30 percent of gay and transgender individuals are suffering from chemical dependency as their primary means of coping with homophobia and intolerance toward members of the LGBT community.

Ready to Put Your Addiction Behind You? Call Recovery Hub Today

The exceedingly high rates of addiction among members of the LGBT community is a real tragedy. However, this has lead to an influx of addiction treatment programs that are specifically oriented toward homosexual and transgendered individuals, addressing the very particular needs that this community has with regard to both addiction recovery as well as their overall mental and physical health. If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would benefit from learning about the available treatment options, call Recovery Hub at 888-220-4352 today. We have a team of recovery specialists available to help those in need find the programming that will allow them to return to lives of health, happiness, and sobriety.

Leave a Reply