Already high within the general population, rates of substance abuse seem to be higher within the LGBT community, though these differences are dependent on particular sexual orientations, gender, and race.
But why exactly is the LGBT community in particular afflicted by high rates of chemical dependency? A number of factors may contribute it, including:
- Higher rates of depression among LGBTQ individuals.
- A need to escape from the presence of social stigma and homophobia.
- Efforts to either numb or enhance sexual feelings.
- Ease shame and guilt related to LGBT identity.
- Chemical Dependency among peers leads to pressure on nonusers.
Source: Cochran, B. N., & Cauce, A. M. (2006). Characteristics of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals entering substance abuse treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 30. 135-146.
These are just a few behaviors associated with chemical dependency:
- Consuming more than intended or taking the prescription drug for a longer period of time than intended.
- Failed attempts to cut back or quit substance use.
- Intense cravings for the abused substance.
- Inability to fulfill responsibilities at school, work or home.
- Ongoing substance use despite negative social or interpersonal consequences.
- Abandoning hobbies and recreational activities for substance use.
- Persistent substance use in dangerous and harmful situations (e.g., driving a car).
- Tolerance: requiring more of the substance to feel the same effect and experiencing less of the desirable effects when taking the same amount.
- Withdrawal: experiencing withdrawal symptoms characteristic of that particular substance and taking the substance to avoid or alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
Unfortunately, many of the factors contributing to the development of chemical dependency in LGBTQ individuals can also prevent people from seeking treatment. Addiction can carry a heavy social stigma with it, and an LGBT identity compounds that stigma even more.
If you are ready to begin the process to recovery, we’re here to help. Overcoming a dependency is a major challenge and requires the right tools and support.
Our Way Out program offers a safe and affirming environment that allows participants to focus on achieving recovery instead of defending themselves or educating others about who they are. We believe that alcohol and drug addiction is a progressive chronic condition which if left untreated could result in death. While the program is not affiliated with any twelve-step program, it does embrace the belief that social support is necessary for continued long-term recovery. In keeping with this, participants are encouraged to utilize the twelve-step philosophy and other recovery-based methods.