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Understanding LGBTQ Stats on Substance Abuse and Addiction

Understanding LGBTQ Stats on Substance Abuse and Addiction


If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, you already know that LGBTQ folks face far more hardships than straight people do. You may not be surprised to learn that LGBTQ people are twice as likely to abuse drugs as straight people. But the stats go a lot further than that.

The LGBTQ community is at higher risk for everything from substance abuse to depression. Read on to learn more about the LGBTQ stats for substance abuse and what to do if you think you may be dealing with a substance abuse problem, as well as information about our top-rated Orange County alcohol rehab facilities.

The Facts

People in the LGBTQ community are twice as likely to experience substance abuse than straight cis people. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 39 percent of LGBTQ adults had used some sort of illegal drug in the last year. Another meta-analysis showed that teenagers in the LGBT community were 90 percent more likely to use illegal substances.

Some studies have shown that between 20 and 25 percent of the gay community has a moderate dependence on alcohol. LGBTQ people drink more and younger than their straight counterparts. And within the LGBTQ community, certain groups are more vulnerable to substance abuse.

Reasons for Substance Abuse

There are a number of reasons that LGBTQ people abuse substances so much more than straight people. The primary one is the constant stress levels they live with. Although the world has made some great progress towards equality for the LGBTQ community in the last few decades, many LGBTQ folks still face rejection from their families, hatred from their communities, and mistreatment from the government because of their orientation.

LGBTQ people are also more likely to end up homeless than straight people, a big risk factor for substance abuse. With alcoholism in particular, drinking is a huge part of ingrained LGBTQ culture. For many years, gay bars were one of the only places LGBTQ could gather, so alcohol became a central part of gay culture.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer can also be a risk factor for a number of other mental disorders. Depression and anxiety are high on that list, and both are huge risk factors for substance abuse disorders. LGBTQ are persecuted for who they love, they become anxious and/or depressed, they don’t have support systems to help them cope with it, and they turn to substance abuse.

Transgender people, in particular, can be susceptible to co-occurring disorders with substance abuse. Body dysmorphia is a common experience in the trans community, and that confusion, hate, and often self-loathing can lead trans people to turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. It is important to clarify that being LGBTQ does not cause these disorders; rather, they are the result of an intolerant society persecuting people for their identities.

Gender and Alcoholism

As we mentioned earlier, bisexual and lesbian women tend to have higher rates of alcoholism than either straight women or men of any identity. This is more prevalent and the older lesbian and bisexual community than the younger community. This may be due to the fact that LGBTQ women face not only the persecution and danger that comes from their identity, but also the discrimination that comes from being a woman in a patriarchal world.

Gay and bisexual men have a higher tendency to abuse methamphetamines than straight men do. This may account for some of the higher prevalence of HIV among this community as well. Transgender women also tend to show more use of methamphetamines than straight cis people do.

When to Get Help

If you are a member of the LGBTQ community, you may be wondering when it’s time to seek help for a substance abuse disorder, or if it’s even safe to do so. More and more treatment facilities are coming to understand the challenges of LGBTQ addiction. They are prepared to help you find joy in recovery and to help you resolve any co-occurring disorders through identity-confirming treatment methods.

The best way to know when it’s time to seek help for a substance abuse problem is when it begins to take over your life. You may find that you’re thinking about using all the time, that you need more of your drug of choice to get the same effect, or that you can’t stop on your own. You may also find yourself using in spite of negative consequences for your life, such as losing a job or winding up in the hospital.

How to Find Help 

So if you believe you have a substance abuse disorder and you want to get help, how do you go about doing that. One great option is to start by calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline at 1-800-662-4357. They can give you a free and confidential referral to a rehab center near you.

If you have a primary care physician, talk to them and ask for a referral. You can also search for free and public assistance rehab centers in your area. If you don’t feel like you have many options, talk to a friend who can help you, or go to your local emergency room for help.

Discover the LGBTQ Stats on Addiction

The LGBTQ stats on addiction run much higher than those for straight and cisgender people. This has a lot to do with the persecution LGBTQ people face on a daily basis, but there is hope. If you or a friend have a substance abuse disorder, reach out and get the help you need to live a full and happy life free of drugs.

If you’d like to get help recovering from a substance abuse disorder, reach out to us at Asana Recovery. We offer detox treatment care, residential treatment, and outpatient treatment programs at our Orange County alcohol rehab facilities. Contact us today to start taking your life back and finding the joy you’re meant to live in.


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