Addiction within the LGBTQIA+ Community

in Addiction
Published Jun 19, 2020

June represents the celebration of LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall movement was the pinnacle of the gay liberation movement in the United States. Since then each June hosts a series of pride events, parades, picnics, vigils and memorials, workshops, and concerts to raise awareness, celebrate liberation, and promote equality.

Pride Month is especially important within the substance use disorder community as addiction disproportionately affects lesbian, bisexual, gay, trans, queer, intersex, or asexual plus other identifies (LGBTQIA+) community compared to heterosexual people.

Last week we highlighted the experiences of Eric Dorsa as a LGBTQIA+ identifying person in recovery. This week we will focus on the intersection between LGBTQIA+ identification and substance use disorder.

Key facts about LGBTQIA+ people and substance use disorder

Approximately 30 percent of LGBTQIA +individuals face some form of addiction, compared to 9 percent of the general population. This community also faces higher risks of mental disorders and even fatal opioid overdoses. 

According to the Recovery Research Institute and The National Institute of Drug Abuse:

  • 30 percent of LGBTQIA +individuals face some form of addiction, compared to 9 percent of the general population
  • Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are 18% more likely to have alcohol use disorder and 20% more likely to have substance use disorder
  • LGBTQIA+ folks are at a higher risk of co-occurring mental disorders
  • Those LGBTQIA+ people with mental disorders are six times more likely to die of an opioid overdose

addiction within the lgbtqia+ community facts

Those who identify LGBTQIA+ as are at a much higher risk of developing substance use disorder due to two factors:

    1. The increased discrimination, stigma, and inequalities they face on a daily basis. These include exclusionary policies, hate crimes, harassment, violence, and barriers to accessing privileges that many of us take for granted like healthcare, quality housing, and employment.
    2. Socialization within this community is often focused around partying and outlets that serve alcohol. Additionally, alcohol manufacturers and advertising agencies manipulate that fact by marketing alcoholic drinks with the Pride flag under the guise of supporting LGBTQIA+ people.

It is the trauma of these inequalities, prejudice, and homophobia that also leads LGBTQIA+ people to reach for alcohol and substances to cope.

How can the addiction treatment industry help?

It is critical that treatment providers provide inclusive and safe spaces. At Gallus we understand how hard it can be for people in minority populations to come into treatment.

Clinical Director Steve Carleton, LCSW, advises

“Micro-aggressions are a barrier to people seeking care. Often times the accumulation of stress and hurt from discrimination can drive substance use. Our clinical team seeks to understand the impacts of these adverse experiences on our clients. We will continue to proactively ask the questions and do our best to create a safe space for clients to share.”

At Gallus Medical Detox, we believe there is dignity in healing. We have the expertise to deal with substance use disorders in a supportive and safe environment. Call us today and take the best first step towards your recovery: 888-306-3122