Like any other member of the society, 20-30 precent of the LGBTQ community struggles with abuse of drugs which is a large number compared to their small community in respect to the society. This high rate of addiction has been addressed by the National Institution of Drug Abuse (NIDA), and special programs has been taken place for these individuals because not only they are fragile towards drugs because of addiction, they also use it as escape from the challenges they face as non-hetero sexual members of the society such as homophobia/transphobia, not being accepted by their families, violence and social isolation towards them because of their sexuality. It has been proven that these special treatment center for only the LGBTQ community has had better result compared to a non-specific treatment center.
As mentioned, because of the mistreatment homosexuals and transgenders face which are not limited to:
Discrimination or stigmatization based on sexual orientation
Hate crimes; emotional abuse, threats, public humiliation or ridicule
Rejection or shame from family or friends after coming out
Loss of employment or not receiving promotions
Internalized homophobia or self-hatred
These people often use drugs as a way to accept the hate and uncomfortable mistreatments towards them, to numb the emotional pain and cope with the reality; in other words they self-medicate with drugs which helps them relieve the pain the feel due to anxiety, anger and or fear and depression even though these substances will end up causing health issues and bigger problems in the long term. Many of the members of the LGBTQ abuse prescription medication just as much as drugs; most of these individuals are transgender in process of doing so; studies have shown that transgender people more vulnerable compared to others because they suffer from anxiety, loneliness and etc. twice as much; this negative stigma and the discrimination they face because of the change they want to make to their own body, is one of the main reasons they use drugs to cope.
Common Co-Occurring Disorders Among LGBTQ Community
An aspect that may provide internal conflict for members of the LGBTQ community is that oftentimes, they are forced to live a “closeted” life. This is where they hide their sexuality from others in fear of rejection, and lead a double life in regards to acting on their sexual orientation. Keeping one’s sexuality a secret is a big psychological toll that may lead to the development of mental health disorders and significant emotional distress.
The reason the members of LGBTQ community that struggle with addiction are more vulnerable than others is because of the mental and physical struggles and sufferings that comes with them still being “closeted” as homosexuals or transgenders; fear of rejection which leads to a double life and preventing them to act according to their sexual orientation because of social reasons, leads these individuals to have severe mental disorders such as Major depression, Generalized anxiety disorder, High levels of stress, Suicide attempts or self-harming tendencies, just to name a few. The same situation can also cause and result to physical health issues; for example, Compulsive sexual behavior, Sexual dysfunction, Sex or HIV-related anxiety, Sexual abuse or assault and etc. these reoccurring mental or sexual disorders are either the result of drug abuse or result to drug abuse which is why it is so important to focus on the members of LGBTQ community separate from others and find the best treatment option accordingly and while addressing them frequently to stop them from drug abuse completely.
Drugs of Choice Within LGBTQ Community
Based on researched and studies, there are many substances that are used specifically between certain members of the community. Such as:
Gay and transgender individuals use tobacco up to 200 percent more than those who identify as heterosexual.
Between 20 and 25 percent of the LGBTQ community have moderate to severe alcohol dependency.
Gay men are 3.5 times more likely to use marijuana than straight males.
Members of the LGBTQ community are 12.2 times more likely to use amphetamines.
LGBTQ individuals are 9.5 times more likely to use heroin than heterosexual individuals.
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