- Gender and Relationships
Substance Abuse in the LGBT Community
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.
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.
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?
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.