Top Five Struggles of the LGBTQ Community That Lead to Addiction

Top Five Struggles of the LGBTQ Community That Lead to Addiction

Top Five Struggles of the LGBTQ Community That Lead to Addiction

Table of Contents

Addiction takes the lives of thousands of Americans each year. Although close to 21 million Americans struggle with addiction, only 10% receive the necessary help. As a result, drugrelated deaths have more than tripled in the past 30 years. 

Addiction is especially prevalent in the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ members are often bullied and cast out from their families. In many cases, they turn to drugs or alcohol as a mental escape from the hardships in lifeFortunately, numerous therapies exist to help LGBTQ individuals overcome addiction.  

Who is in the LGBTQ Community?

The initials LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay (man), Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning.

Lesbian: A lesbian is a woman who is attracted to other women.

Gay man: A gay man is a man who is attracted to other men.

Bisexual: Bisexual refers to people who are attracted to both the same sex and the opposite sex as themselves.

Transgender: A transgender person identifies with a gender that differs from the gender they were assigned at birth.

Queer or Questioning: A person that is queer or questioning may be unsure of their sexual identity. They may be exploring their sexuality before identifying themselves with a specific term or gender.

The community can also be referred to as the LGBTQ+ community. The “+” in LGBTQ+ encapsulates any other ways of sexual or gender identification such as pansexual, asexual, nonbinary, and more. Determining one’s sexuality or gender will be a different experience for every member of the LGBTQ community.

Video transcriptions Text
Hey everyone! Welcome to this super neat Introduction to some concepts Within the LGBT Community 00:06 00:06 There are so many buzzwords, 00:08 Vocabulary and definitions floating around in the media it can be hard to dissect what it all means 00:12 so this Brief Video will Introduce you to some basic Concepts 00:16 Okay, There's a lot to get through 00:19 first the LGBTQ+ Acronym 00:22 Let's Break That Down 00:25 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual 00:27 Transgender, Queer 00:29 Questioning, Intersex 00:30 Asexual, Ally 00:33 Now all of these words deal with one of four key traits every person, queer or not, has 00:39 Biological Sex is the physical anatomy with which you are born 00:43 Gender Identity is the personal feeling and 00:45 Conceptualization of one's own gender on the spectrum between male and female 00:50 Sexual Orientation Is the gender to which a person is attracted either romantically or sexually in relation to their own 00:57 Gender Expression is how a person chooses to outwardly show their gender identity 01:02 In simple terms 01:04 Biological Sex what you have; Gender Identity what you feel; 01:08 Sexual Orientation who you love; Gender Expression how you look and act 01:14 Okay, we just broke down the acronym and we talked about the four traits. Now let's put them together. 01:20 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Asexual 01:23 Refer To sexual Orientation. 01:25 Intersex Refers to differences in Biological Sex Which Can, also be Related to being Transgender and both of those are related to Gender Identity. 01:34 Queer Is an Umbrella Term used by most of the community to refer to anyone who identifies as part of the community. 01:41 Questioning refers to people who are, you guessed it, still questioning their sexuality or gender. 01:47 Allies are non-queer folk who support and love the queer community. 01:51 Now, the first Idea to talk about is that of a spectrum. 01:55 The LGBTQ+ community widely accepts that the four aforementioned traits are all on a spectrum a scale between two opposite Points 02:03 Traits Can Fall on Either extreme or Anywhere in Between 02:07 Alright Let's Jump in and Start With Terms relating to Gender Identity 02:13 First, Biological Sex The Extremes on This Spectrum Are biological Male and Female These are determined Mainly by Hormones and Organs 02:20 for Males This Means Testosterone A Penis Testes and Secondary Sex Characteristics like Body and Facial [Hair] and A lower Voice 02:28 For females This Means estrogen a Vagina and the internal reproductive Organs for Pregnancy 02:34 Female Secondary Sex Characteristics Include Breasts wider Hips and higher Voice 02:40 Intersex is the Term Used to describe [People] whose Combination of Hormones 02:44 Internal Sex Organs and Genitals do not fit Typical Binary Notions of Male Or female Bodies 02:50 Gender Another Spectrum is the Scale between Boy and Girl Boys 02:54 May Use Masculine Pronouns He/him/his and Feel Masculine Girls use she/her Pronouns and Feel Feminine Anyone Who iDentifies 03:03 Outside The gender Binary Falls under The Umbrella Term of Genderqueer 03:07 Halfway Between The extremes is gender-Neutral this means someone Who iDentifies as Neither a man nor a woman they often Choose Neutral Pronouns 03:15 They/them/their Or A Variation of the Invented Pronouns Ze/zir/ze 03:19 Someone who is gender Fluid May Identify Differently at Different Times. 03:24 A Bigender Person lives Their life at both extremes at Different Times Living both as a man and as A woman 03:30 With Both gender Fluid and bigender People it is important to listen and Respect the Appropriate Pronoun for the Situation 03:37 Agender People don't identify With Any Gender and often use gender-Neutral Pronouns 03:42 So we Already established that gender Identity Is the gender you Feel inside when your Internal gender Identity Matches your Born 03:50 Biological Sex That's Called Cisgender 03:53 if They don't Match, Transgender 03:56 Transgender People Experience Gender Dysphoria Or the Uncomfortable Feeling that Their mind and Body don't Match 04:03 often Trans People will Choose to Transition 04:05 Using Hormone Replacement Therapy and/or Various Surgeries to Change Their Bodies to Match Their Identity. 04:11 It is never okay to ask a trans Person Where they are in Their Transition if They want you to know they'll tell you? 04:18 Mind Body Alignment also lies on a spectrum 04:22 Gender Expression Is how People choose to Show Their gender to the outside World 04:26 This Refers to the Ways in which 04:28 We each Manifest a masculinity or Femininity it is Usually an Extension of gender Identity? 04:34 Each of Us Expresses a particular gender Every day the Clothes, We wear how, We style our Hair Or even the Way We stand. 04:42 Drag Kings and Queens Are People who Explore gender as an Art Form Their Cross Dressing is A form of gender Expression 04:48 But you Cannot Assume Anything about Their gender Identity or sexual Orientation based on how they choose to dress 04:56 Speaking of Sexual Orientation 04:58 That's our Last Spectrum and it Refers to whom you are attracted. 05:02 on One end we have Heterosexual Or Attraction to someone of The Opposite Gender 05:07 Opposingly There is homosexual Or Attraction to the Same Gender 05:11 In Between is bisexual Attraction to both Genders 05:15 Pansexuality is Attraction to all genders 05:18 Including Those That Lay Outside The Binary someone who is asexual Is not Attracted to any Gender 05:24 Attraction Can Be broken Down Even Further Into Both Romantic and sexual 05:29 One Is an emotional Attraction the other is Physical These Attractions do not always have to align 05:35 for example Someone Can be Panromantic, 05:38 Emotionally Attracted to all genders, but asexual, not Physically Attracted to any gender. There Are several other more Nuanced Prefixes 05:46 Demi, Skolio, Poly, to name A few. other genders Such as Third Gender and Two-Spirit 05:53 Also exist some of These IDentities Can be Confusing and Hard to Understand if You've Never Been Exposed to them before 05:59 But if A Person defines Themselves in A way that is new to you it is okay even 06:04 Important To Respectfully Ask What that Identity Means to them 06:10 These are Just A few of some Offensive and Hurtful terms that are used [to] describe some People in the lgbtq Community 06:17 These Terms are Mostly Old-Fashioned and are often Used out of ignorance rather Than Malice 06:22 However They Can all be Slurs used Maliciously on Purpose to hurt People's Feelings 06:30 But The biggest message you Should Take away from this Video is the importance of letting someone define Their Own Gender and Sexuality 06:38 Respect Their Pronouns 06:40 Respect Their Chosen Name 06:42 Respect Their Appearance and 06:44 Respect Their Choice in Partners 06:48 Share This Video on your Favorite social Media Platform and Spread the word. Use These new Vocab Words to define Yourself! 06:55 I am a gay cisgender Female 06:58 Who are you? English

Does the LGBTQ Community Have a Higher Rate of Addiction?

Research has shown that adults in the LGBTQ community have a higher rate of addiction as opposed to their heterosexual counterparts. A 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Drug Health found that more than 37.6% of adults in the LGBTQ community used marijuana in the past year. This statistic is in comparison to 16.2% of the overall adult population that states they used marijuana in the same time frame.1 The same study shows that LGBTQ individuals are more likely to use opioids than heterosexuals. Around 9% of LGBTQ adults reported opioid drug use as compared to 3% of heterosexuals. Approximately 12.4% of LGBTQ adults also reported drinking alcohol in comparison to 10.1% of the overall population.

Bullying and Harassment

Bullying and harassment play a significant role in pushing members of the LGBTQ community towards drug use. Often, sexual minority adults turn to drugs and alcohol to block the pain felt from hurtful words and actions. Addictive behaviors can occur and send the individual into a downward spiral.

A 2016 study was conducted to investigate the role of school counselors, primarily in how they attended the LGBTQ community. The study found that, although sexual minority bullying was prevalent in schools, there were no specific anti-bullying interventions, state laws, or policies to address these issues.2

When children are bullied, it sets the stage for prolonged problems that can carry into adulthood. Bullying can trigger depression and anxiety, and it can lead to low self-confidence and low self-esteem. Unfortunately, these issues don’t always cease once an individual leaves the school system. Sexual minority members are often called out and ostracized by the way they live.

Video transcriptions Text
- I feel like bullying is something 00:01 we really need to keep talking about 00:05 and it can't just be shoved under the rug into this box 00:08 of like, well that's snowflake stuff, you know? 00:18 If you were to visualize bullying, 00:21 what does it look like to you? 00:23 - I've experienced bullying all throughout growing up, 00:25 unfortunately, and it's taken many different forms. 00:28 A boy, who I was trying to hide my sexuality behind, 00:32 asked me for nude photos at age 14 00:36 and would not stop asking me for over a year 00:39 until I finally sent him the photos. 00:42 And then he posted the photos online 00:44 in retaliation for me coming out as being queer. 00:47 For me, bullying has taken so many shapes 00:51 in the fact that it's meant to silence me. 00:53 It's meant to harm me and humiliate me 00:56 and shame me into submission. 00:59 And even though that happened to me when I was 14, 01:01 it still lives with me today. 01:03 - I do think that is important to acknowledge 01:06 that bullying doesn't necessarily 01:07 look like it does in movies. 01:09 It's not always physical. 01:11 - I can definitely say that in middle school, 01:14 my grades were like trash. 01:15 After transitioning, there were a lot 01:19 of micro aggressions that students said 01:20 but it was just seen as bullying, you know. 01:23 And since I didn't feel that it was a safe space 01:25 to go to teachers and that I didn't feel safe from my peers, 01:32 I began to retract in class. 01:35 I didn't want to be a part of the school community 01:40 and I started doing really bad in class. 01:44 - It's irresponsible of anyone to expect someone 01:48 who is going through that much trauma 01:50 to then be able to pick themselves up, 01:52 wake up at seven a.m. and go to school and be successful. 01:56 - I believe the suicide rate of trans teens 01:59 is four times that of their cis-gender counterparts 02:03 and that's because we're, nope, 02:05 bullying is just a part of growing up. 02:07 Well, it's not and that's why so many beautiful trans teens 02:11 aren't getting to grow up. 02:12 And if you're bullied all through high school, 02:15 all through middle school, and you are just 02:18 negativity's being spoken into your mind 02:21 and you are just constantly being degraded, 02:24 that is going to become your mindset. 02:25 And I know that I've suffered from that. 02:28 - We're here at Hetrick-Martin Institute, 02:30 which is also the home of the Harvey Milk High School, 02:32 which creates a safe space for LGBTQ teens 02:35 who've experienced bullying. 02:37 Did either of you ever feel that you had to 02:39 hide who you are to avoid bullying? 02:41 - Growing up in a small town, 02:43 I've always been ridiculed for my appearance in some way 02:47 whether that be wearing too much makeup 02:50 or having hair extensions and dying my hair 02:53 and just wanting to express myself. 02:55 But ever since I started to be open 02:58 as a gender non-conforming person 03:00 and truly feel good in my appearance and in my body, 03:03 it's also subjected me to ridicule. 03:06 - Bullying doesn't just magically end 03:08 when you leave school, right? 03:10

How Do Bullying and Harassment Lead to Addiction?

Bullying and harassment drive behaviors such as:

Instead of opening up about their problems, many choose to bottle their emotions. This is especially common in the LGBTQ community where individuals feel like there is no one they can talk to. Many choose to self-medicate instead of healthily dealing with their issues. They turn to drugs and alcohol, and such actions can bring harm to themselves and the people around them.2

The best way to help someone with an addiction is to encourage them to find treatment. Many treatment programs start with detox, so the body overcomes physical addiction, followed by customized therapeutic methods so patients overcome issues of low self-esteem and low self-worth.

Family Conflict and Rejection

Usually, one can turn to their family when they have an issue. They know their relatives will provide unconditional love and stand next to them no matter what problems they are experiencing.

However, many people in the LGBTQ community are not so lucky. They may have mothers, fathers, and other relatives who don’t understand their sexuality. Their relatives may reject them and even refuse to speak or interact with them. Not only does this increase the likelihood of addiction, but it also makes recovery more challenging.

LGBTQ adults who experienced parental conflict due to their sexuality were 3.4% times more likely to do illegal drugs as opposed to LGBTQ adults with healthy parent-child relationships. LGBTQ adults with strained family relationships were also 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide, 5.9 times more likely to experience depression, and 3.4 times more likely to have unprotected sex.3

Video transcriptions Text
there shouldn't be a reason for you to
not love your son
and my mom's house it's God first and
then family and my family it's just like
a man is supposed to be masculine and a
woman is supposed to be feminine since I
was raised in the church I honestly
thought being gay was wrong
they gather around the family table and
they sign a piece of paper basically
saying I'm no longer a part of this
family and if I step foot on the
property they'll call the police and I'm
basically disowned and they don't
recognize me as my mom's child anymore
I just walked around for hours an hour
it's Todd this was like I need to fall
asleep and I just once I find this one
street and I was like really quiet there
was no one else there and I was like a
little corner and I was like wow I'm
about to do this right now like I'm
about to sleep on this dirty-ass
so it's like it's bad enough being
homeless but like if you're homeless and
your youth or you're homeless and you're
gay or let's say if you're homeless and
you're person of color or you're trans
it just keeps putting you more in danger
like people will say Oh like you have to
like really try to be homeless to be
like actually homeless because
apparently there's so many resources out
there and it's so easy to get back on
your feet and stuff in the city such as
LA but since there's such a high
population of homelessness here beds are
being filled up like that you can't even
get into a winter shelter
I can't be mad because if you if you
stay mad at someone do you just become
bitter you know and it's like I just
gotta remind myself that like I'm out
here across the country I have my own
family that loves and support me here I
got what I need
family is people that love and support
you it's not always your bloodline you
I just had enough I'd like fighting
every day waking up when you're in a
place like that where people don't care
you don't have to like pretend or act or
like put up your guard or anything you
can just like relax and the speech so
like you know cuz like when people don't
care you're gay you don't care you're
gay like you're your pride in it you're
like you're proud of who you are as a

How Does Family Conflict and Rejection Lead to Addiction?

For most individuals, parental approval means a lot. Without this support, people may find themselves feeling worthless or depressed. Many turn to drugs and alcohol to ease these negative emotions. Substance abuse ultimately intensifies a downward spiral that can be difficult to bounce back from without a strong family base.

Arrow Passage Recovery provides a variety of therapies that can help patients overcome addiction and reduce the risk of relapse. We help patients understand the source of their problems and how to overcome it. In the case of a family conflict, we help patients understand that their family’s rejection is not due to anything they have said or done. We offer supportive, sympathetic counselors and peer groups that let patients know they are not alone. In this way, we can stand in for family members who may not offer individuals the care they need.

Abuse and Trauma

Abuse and trauma are all too prevalent in the LGBTQ community. Abuse could come from a high school bully who harasses people they don’t understand. It could be the parent who refuses to accept that their child is different. It could be the sexual partner who feeds on negative emotions. Whatever the source of abuse and trauma may be, it is hurtful to individuals on a physical and emotional level. It often drives a person to drink or do drugs to numb the pain.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects (NCAVP) estimates that half of the transgender and bisexual female population will experience sexual violence at some time in their lives. LGBTQ people are also more likely to deal with poverty, marginalization, and stigma, all of which put them at great risk of sexual abuse.

Unfortunately, sexual abuse doesn’t always occur in adulthood. A 2001 study research on 942 adult participants showed the 46% of homosexual men experienced molestation as a child as compared to 7% of heterosexual men. 22% of lesbians reported molestation issues as opposed to 1% of heterosexual women.4

Video transcriptions Text
I didn't deserve to be attacked and I
definitely don't deserve to be made to
feel like it's my my own fault I felt
confused powerless and helpless little
I was nine at the time I had never
understood how people were supposed to
treat my body while I was being violated
and I was trying to understand how I was
being violated that was really
complicated for me out of nowhere he was
standing over me he was pulling me down
and pulling my pants down all of a
sudden the conversation switched he
started to like kind of move forward
toward me and became violent after just
talking to this man his forearm as and I
throw and I'm up against this storefront
we only feel sorry for certain women we
only believe certain women for trans
women and for Femmes because we're not
seeing in the binary especially trans
women like a mockery of womanhood people
don't believe us or our claims against
sexual violence isn't legitimized the
Miche movement it was a little bit
disheartening the fact that this was a
woman's work for eight years and there
wasn't really any recognition of that or
even where it came from there's like a
legacy of you know black feminism that
the me2 of the movement is a
continuation of specifically tarana
burke and she's been really great at
mentioning queer and trans people so to
see privileged white women within
Hollywood essentially co-opting that and
turning it into a different narrative
was a little difficult for me to see in
the me2 movement a lot of black women or
black films are angry is because it's
like we have to like shout from the top
of our lungs where Asus white woman can
write op-ed or just make a claim and the
world burns the me2 movement doesn't do
a lot to include trans women because
there are a lot of situations where
trans women are not just afraid of going
out and reporting like something bad
happened to them sexually you're also