People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning often face unique challenges not encountered by their heterosexual counterparts. Due to the stigma, discrimination, harassment and violence that this population faces, they are at an increased risk for various behavioral health issues, including substance abuse.
In this article, we’re going to explore why the LGBTQIA+ community has higher rates of substance abuse and the treatment options available.
Why is Substance Abuse Higher within the LGBTQIA+ Community?
Substance abuse is a significant problem among members of the LGBTQIA+ community. From alcohol abuse and binge drinking, to harder drugs like methamphetamines and opioids, some sexual minorities struggle with substance abuse problems.
Studies show that LGBTQIA+ adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to use illicit drugs, and almost twice as likely to suffer from a substance use disorder. Gay and bisexual men also have a much higher chance of abusing methamphetamine compared to heterosexual men.
So why are sexual minorities more likely to fall into this cycle? Some factors include:
- Discrimination and social stigma. Despite growing acceptance in the U.S., most people who identify as LGBTQIA+ face some level of discrimination. This can come from family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and even strangers.
- Internalized homophobia. Internalized homophobia happens when a sexual minority identifies with anti-gay stigmas. This makes it difficult for them to feel comfortable in their own skin, even when given support.
- Lack of support. Some members of the LGBTQIA+ community choose to “stay in the closet” because they’re afraid of rejection. Living a double life can cause feelings of shame, loneliness and anxiety.
- Co-occurring disorders. Mental health disorders like depression and anxiety are more common among sexual minorities. In addition, some members of the LGBTQIA+ suffer from serious health issues like hepatitis or HIV.
All of these factors can make life as a LGBTQIA+ individual difficult. As a result, some people self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. These substances provide temporary relief from pain, but sadly, are a risk for addiction.
Treatment Options for the LGBTQIA+ Population
The road to recovery is a unique experience for each individual person. The journey is even more distinct to someone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning because they face unique challenges.
Thankfully, there are a number of treatment centers that work with this population and offer support for trauma, abuse, stigmatization, violence and harassment. These treatment centers can also connect people with peers who will understand their unique struggles.
At Breathe Life Healing Centers, we offer treatment for both substance use and mental health disorders. We deeply understand the LGBTQIA+ community – many of our staff and therapists are part of this demographic! Our treatment center is also lesbian and gay owned and operated. When we say we truly understand this population, we mean it.
Here are some of the therapies that give LGBTQIA+ members the best outcomes:
- Motivational interviewing. A common issue with the LGBTQIA+ community is feeling ambivalent about making changes within themselves. Motivational interviewing (MI) is a type of therapy that encourages people to take action and make changes from within.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. Being a sexual minority comes with a number of challenges that can impact quality of life. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps individuals identify and challenge negative thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
- Contingency management. This type of therapy requires clients to set specific goals for themselves, and when they complete them, they receive some type of reward. As this cycle continues, people develop more confidence and stay on track with their goals.
LGBTQIA+ Drug Rehab in Los Angeles
Breathe Life Healing Centers in Los Angeles is committed to helping LGBTQIA+ members heal from substance use, mental health problems and eating disorders. We provide education for all clients and their families, as well as relapse prevention skills, emotional regulation, impulse control, hands-on nutrition, spiritual development and more.
Our goal is to not just treat the addiction but also improve our clients’ quality of life. By doing this, clients are less likely to return to drugs or alcohol in the future. As part of our LGBTQIA+ substance abuse treatment services, we also cover topics that affect this community, such as peer pressure, shaming, bullying and social injustice.
All treatment plans are tailored to the individual, allowing us to address other unique issues in the person’s home or life, including past trauma. Ultimately, we are a safe space where people of all sexual idenfications can recover. To learn more about our LGBTQIA+ drug rehab in Los Angeles, contact Breathe Life Healing Centers today.