Addiction within the LGBT community is a real problem and one that requires attention in different ways to drug and alcohol use within heterosexual populations. It might come as a shock to hear, but the LGBT community tends to have higher rates of substance abuse, with both drugs and alcohol consumed in higher amounts and over longer periods of time.
Here’s a breakdown of the considerations one must make when helping their LGBT loved one through their addiction.
Higher rates of addiction in the LGBT community stem from many causes
There is a multitude of reasons why the LGBT community struggles more with addiction than any other population. One of the reasons for this is because members of the LGBT community face higher levels of chronic stress. This is mainly because of the long history of social prejudice that LGBT people must live with on a daily basis. The LGBT community faces discrimination in many social aspects of life that other people take for granted: employment, health care, and housing. This stress leads to high levels of self-medication with drugs.
Exploitation has led to higher rates of targeted marketing
Typical safe spaces for LGBT people include bars, restaurants, and clubs – places in which people can socialize. Unfortunately, drinking and smoking run rampant in venues like this, and therefore the behavior is encouraged. In fact, LGBT social networks have been exploited for years in regards to marketing these substances. Advertising of tobacco products is performed directly in magazines directed at LGBT people, leading to high levels of addiction to these substances and other drugs.
LGBT people require specialized treatment
There are limited treatment services for LGBT people. A general treatment facility with no history or specialization in treating LGBT patients will not provide the required help in order for your friend or loved one to overcome their struggle. LGBT patients have specific needs and without addressing these, treatment seems to fall flat. Isolation can occur when an LGBT patient is housed with a mainly heterosexual population, and the patient will not feel comfortable enough to open up and share their struggle, which is within the early steps of any treatment plan.
Safety is paramount
One of the biggest concerns for treating an LGBT person is their sense of safety. LGBT people struggle with facets of life in different ways than heterosexual people do. In order for an LGBT person to completely open up, they must feel completely safe. This is paramount in the context of getting treatment for gay and lesbian drug addiction. If safety isn’t assured, you will find that your LGBT loved one will not get the treatment necessary to ensure their recovery is long term and their risk of recidivism is highly reduced.
It’s no secret that LGBT face struggles that heterosexual people don’t have to, and dealing with higher rates of addiction and substance abuse is just one of them. Reducing rates of addiction requires short term and long term strategies. With knowledge and understanding of how best to treat LGBT people, we can close the gap between our populations and move towards total equality.