LGBT Community vs. Addiction
01/31/19: Addiction Prevention \ Addiction Recovery
Over the last few decades, our society has become more and more progressive, giving birth to new communities we thought we may never see. One of the most prominent and well known of these communities is the LGBT community, promoting diversity across the world. Promoting the idea that sex doesn’t determine gender or sexuality, the LGBT community has become very prominent in today’s world. Though communities like these are being celebrated more, there is still stereotypes and discrimination against them.
People around the world celebrate these communities for being so brave and being themselves, but there are still people out there that do not agree with their lifestyles. More conservative folk cause public discrimination against these communities and, sadly, it still prevails in many parts of the world. Yes, the U.S. has become very progressive in their thinking, but other places around the world, and even still in select parts of the U.S., people discriminate against this community. Because of the continued discrimination and public ridicule, some people that are in the LGBT community keep their sexuality hidden. This has caused many closeted LGBT members to have serious mental health issues and has caused them to even partake in substance abuse. When you struggle with accepting who you are because of public ridicule, you face the harsh reality of falling into substance abuse.
Statistics on Substance Abuse
Over the years, there have been a massive number of studies done on addiction in the U.S.
- Over 24 million Americans, ages 12 and up, are addicted to some kind of substance (excluding tobacco).
- Over 100 people die every day from drug overdoses, which is triple the number it was 20 years ago.
- In 2011, there were over 5 million emergency room visits that were drug-related.
- Out of the 24 million people with addictions, over 6 million of them suffer from a mental illness, making up 25% of the addiction population.
LGBT Community & Addiction
The LGBT community is filled with people who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, and many more. According to a study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, adults in the “sexual minority” (the LGBT community) often have substance abuse rates higher than that of heterosexual people (39.1% vs. 17.1%).
Here are some other statistics this institute found on substance abuse in the LGBT community:
- In 2013, LGBT adults were found to have a higher binge drinking percentage than that of heterosexual adults.
- LGBT adolescents were found to be 90% more likely to use substances than heterosexual adolescents.
- LGBT persons also have a greater likelihood than non-LGBT persons of experiencing a substance use disorder (SUD) in their lifetime, and they often enter treatment with more severe SUDs.
Why is this community so susceptible to addiction?
You may be asking, why is there such a drastic difference when it comes to substance abuse statistics between the LGBT and heterosexual communities? There are a couple of major factors that can help us see why the numbers are so drastically different. Here are some of the most important things to consider when talking about substance abuse in the LGBT community:
Sexual Minority = Stress
Being in the sexual minority means you are bound to have stereotypes and discrimination circling around you. People all around the world with more conservative ideologies still see the LGBT community as something very wrong. This can cause serious stress for someone in this community. This kind of stress can also be called ‘Minority Stress’. Stigmas, criticism, discrimination, abuse, and prejudice are all things people in the LGBT community face every day. Even people living in the progressive society in the U.S. still face these criticisms.
Because of these negative reactions, individuals in the LGBT community may start to feel what they’re doing is wrong, some may even start to hate their sexuality. They may feel misunderstood or lost; this can cause serious mental health problems which may result in substance abuse. Some people in this community, depending on where they live, may even face physical/verbal abuse for their lifestyle choices. All these factors negatively affect people who are a part of the LGBT community and can certainly result in addiction.
Discrimination at Work
One of the biggest issues LGBT people face is discrimination in the workplace. Here are some statistics on LGBT discrimination in the workplace. This data truly reveals what LGBT members face in the workplace, showing how levels of stress may increase:
- One-fifth (20%) of LGBT Americans has experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for jobs.
- Over a quarter (27%) of the transgender population said they were not hired, were fired, or were not promoted in 2015 due to their gender identity or expression.
- Nearly two-thirds (62%) of LGBT employees heard lesbian and gay jokes at work, while 43% heard bisexual jokes and 40% heard transgender jokes.
- Fear prevents LGBT employees from bringing their full selves to work. Nearly three quarters (70%) of non-LGBT employees believe it is “unprofessional” to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace.
Discrimination in Home Life
Though LGBT communities may face discrimination in the workplace, they’ll be safe at home right? Sometimes yes, but this is not always true. 4 in 10 LGBT youth say that they live in communities where the people do not accept the LGBT community. 26% of LGBT youth say their biggest worry in school is being accepted by their peers, families, and teachers. They also worry about bullying by those who do not accept their lifestyle. 73% of LGBT youth say they are more honest about their true selves online rather than in the real world. This is not a healthy way to live. It is no wonder that LGBT members fall into addiction based off of these statistics.
From workplace and community discrimination to high levels of stress, it is no wonder why substance abuse rates are so much higher for LGBT members than heterosexual individuals. Living in constant fear of not being accepted can take a serious toll on a person’s mental health. Thankfully, in the U.S., steps have been taken to ensure that people in these communities are not discriminated against so they can get equal treatment/acceptance. However, there is still a long way to go before discrimination is completely gone.
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