Substance Abuse in the LGBT Community

Source

Many of you are familiar with the growing problem of substance abuse among the LGBT community. Whether you've experienced it first hand or know friends or relatives that have been consumed in the cycle it needs to end.

Proof

Growing up in a small community and attending college at a local university opened my eyes to the severity of the substance abuse occurring in the LGBT community. Looking for statistics on the issue I located some information, however the research was primarily conducted in the late 1990's. I found little information regarding the topic, however according to the National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Addiction Professionals "reliable information about the size of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community is not available. However, available studies indicate that LGBT people are more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs than the general population." Regardless of how many in the LGBT community abuse substances the real questions should be why is there a higher amount of abuse and what we can do to fix the problem.


Causes

Many argue one reason the LGBT community experiences a higher rate of substance abuse is because of the difficulties regarding the issue of homosexuality. Younger people may have a hard time dealing with their emotions regarding their sexual urges. They may use drugs as a reason to say "Oh, I was drunk and it just happened." Others may find solace in drugs and alcohol when their family disapproves of their sexual orientation. Some could even experience homelessness after confessing their sexual orientation. We've all seen the recent news articles discussing the rate of suicide among homosexual adolescents, but what can we do to help our LGBT youth?

Source

Prevention

Many high schools and colleges are forming groups to deal with such issues. Counselors are focusing on assisting the community with the struggles of identifying themselves as homosexual and transgendered. There is more focus on dealing with harassment, disclosing information to family members, and violence due to sexual orientation. These are great options for those willing to seek help, however others may find it difficult to seek help and advice regarding their sexual orientation, let alone if they have a serious substance abuse problem. It's a never ending cycle. For example, the local university that I attended did have a LGBT group; however most of the members participated in drug use. We all have the ability to say no- but when you're seeking friendships or relationships it's extremely hard to find members of the LGBT community that are substance free. Not everyone will have the same experiences and hopefully you or your homosexual friends have great circles of positive reinforcement. Sadly, from experience this is not always the case. Preventing substance abuse among the LGBT community is going to take an abundance of effort. Just listening as a friend when anyone (regardless of their sexual orientation) has an issue is definitely a start. Just knowing you have friends and relatives that are not disapproving of the homosexual and transgendered lifestyle means more than most realize.

Is substance abuse among the LGBT community an issue in your area?

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Other information

If you're looking for some statistics to back up the claim that there is a profound problem with substance abuse among the LGBT community here are some great links to help in your journey:

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Comments 4 comments

manthy profile image

manthy 5 years ago from Alabama,USA

I think substance abuse is in every community.

Worldwide problem - no stereotypes is not affected by DRUG ABUSE, but thanks for raising awareness


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

I live in NJ, and my son went to a state college here. They had programs for the LGBT community, and a one credit course the students could take to try to help them understand the kinds of issues, pressures and stresses these people have in their lives. I was very interested in what he told me about the course, and we're pretty liberal in NJ anyway. But I sympathize, it must be very difficult, as the person above says, growing up is stressful enough. I have back problems and wore body casts and braces as a child. In kindergarten, I was in the bathroom once, and somebody threw a bunch of pebbles down my cast! When it was taken off ( 6 wks later) I had a pebble stuck in my belly button. And nobody said anything, the teacher, the kid was not held accountable. In our times at least I see lots of anti-bullying campaigns. Martial arts is popular here too, and many young people are learning basic self-defense moves, which is good. I hope the world gets more tolerant, and people who do bully are punished.


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

I live in NJ, and my son went to a state college here. They had programs for the LGBT community, and a one credit course the students could take to try to help them understand the kinds of issues, pressures and stresses these people have in their lives. I was very interested in what he told me about the course, and we're pretty liberal in NJ anyway. But I sympathize, it must be very difficult, as the person above says, growing up is stressful enough. I have back problems and wore body casts and braces as a child. In kindergarten, I was in the bathroom once, and somebody threw a bunch of pebbles down my cast! When it was taken off (like 6 wks later) I had a pebble stuck in my belly button. And nobody said anything, the teacher, the kid was not held accountable. In our times at least I see lots of anti-bullying campaigns. Martial arts is popular here too, and many young people are learning basic self-defense moves, which is good. I hope the world gets more tolarant, and people who do bully are punished.


michelemacwrites profile image

michelemacwrites 5 years ago from USA

I was not aware of the growing statistics but I do agree that as a community, they do have a number of additional stressors. Being the parent of a gay son, I know firsthand, of the many issues he has to face and the battles he fights simply because of his orientation. Life is stressful in and of itself. The teenage years are tough enough and to add the gay element with its many accompanying issues, only makes it way more problematic. This is especially so because the gay lifestyle is one that a great percentage of the society frowns upon, because of misunderstanding or ignorance. It totally changes the playing field. I could fully understand the increase of substance abuse. Great hub. Voted up and interesting !

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