Anyone can fall prey to the substance use disorder at one point of life or another. However, some people or groups are more prone than the others. The LGBTQ+ community is one such group which is the primary prey of this problem due to various societal reasons. Some of the reasons that result in the deterioration of the mental health include rejection, ostracism, and discrimination by the society and abuse. These individuals struggle with a higher rate of risk towards substance abuse when compared to the heterosexual community. On the bright side, there are many resources and rehabilitation centers that can help them to recover and get rid of their addiction as well as insecurities.
Whether you are a member of the LGBTQ community or one of your loved ones is suffering from the substance abuse and addiction, then you need to read on to get answers to your questions regarding the rehabilitation. So, if you are considering to get rid of your addiction, then you are sure to find all the information and help you need to take the plunge here.
Why Is Substance Abuse recurring in the LGBTQ Community?
Extensive research is being conducted on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ+) issues and many surveys and researches show a definitive link between the increased substance abuse and the sexual minority groups. Moreover, another research conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that the pattern of drugs, tobacco and alcohol is significantly higher among the LGBTQ community compared to the general population. Not only is this community more prone to the misuse but they start it at a very early age. Furthermore, 30 percent of the gay and transgender individuals consider attempting suicide, and substance abuse is a major factor behind it as it aggravates the loneliness and fear the LGTBQ+ community feels in the ever-evolving social and political scenario.
The LGBTQ+ community struggles with isolation and degraded mental health due to the fear regarding their safety when it comes to the infiltrated social stigmas. In other words, identifying themselves as anything besides the heterosexual equates to losing their loved ones, being bullied at school, undisclosed bias at the workplace in particular and in the society in general. These are only some of the contributing factors that lead to the increased rates of substance abuse in the LGBTQ+ community.
Nevertheless, there are many ways to help yourselves or a loved one dealing with any of these burdens, and it all starts with understanding. As understanding why the LGBTQ+ community is more prone to struggling with the alcohol or drug abuse can be the key to helping a loved one get rid of it. Below are some of the substances that the LGBTQ+ community may get addicted to:
Substances LGBTQ+ Individuals fall prey to
Although anyone can get addicted to these substances, the LGBTQ+ community struggles with alcohol, amphetamine, heroin and tobacco addiction the most.
The rate of gay and transgender individuals abusing alcohol is between 20 to 25 percent while the rate of the general population is between 5 to 10 percent. This is due to the combination of the factors already stated. This community starts using alcohol as they find it helpful in coping with the high-stress level that coming out of the closet may put them through.
Regardless of the reason, alcohol abuse can quickly become deteriorating and even fatal if left unaddressed. Frequent excessive use results in alcoholism in which the individuals become dependent on it both physically and psychologically. Some of the side effects of alcoholism include:
- Liver Damage
- Weak Immune system
- Reduction in Sexual Performance
The following signs are alarming in alcoholism, and medical help must be sought if any of these is visible in you or a loved one:
- Drinking that becomes a hindrance to everyday work and activities.
- Spending most of the time drinking and then recovering from it
- Not being able to control the amount of alcohol consumption
- Feeling shaky and anxious while experiencing withdrawal
Amphetamines are the drugs that produce an intense feeling of euphoria. These can be manufactured medically and may even occur in the street forms like meth. Although these substances bring euphoric feeling in the short term their frequent and excessive use results in addiction and dependence. It is another drug type that is commonly abused by the LGBTQ+ community.
The high rate of amphetamine abuse results due to many complex reasons. The gay community gives great importance to fitness and therefore use this drug to suppress their appetite while some of them also use it for its energizing and stimulating effects to work at the late-night clubs. These drugs may seem to be harmless part drugs at first, but their regular use may result in many health problems from malnutrition to psychosis and even cardiac problems. So, it is important to stay true to yourself or a loved one and to avoid the abuse of this substance.
Some of the symptoms of amphetamine include:
- Withdrawing from social life.
- Depression and psychosis
- Physical health problems
Heroin is among the most dangerous street drugs that have caused many mortalities. It produces an intense feeling of euphoria when injected, ingested, or even snorted. The LGBTQ+ community is at higher risk to abuse this drug due to lifelong isolation, rejection from the society and bullying by the peers.
Some of the health hazards posed by the abuse of heroin include:
- Collapsed veins
- Stomach cramping
- Cardiac problems
- Kidney or liver disease
- Lung problems
The most dangerous health hazard caused by heroin is addiction and death by it. Regular use of this drugs makes the user build up a tolerance, and so they have to increase the dose to produce a similar effect. This may even lead up to a fatal overdose. Symptoms of heroin abuse include:
- Withdrawing from social life.
- Visible bruises and needle marks
- Emotional disturbances
The LGBTQ+ community is more prone to use tobacco products than the general population. This use is often attributed to the high stress levels in their life caused by LGBTQ+ stigmatization. The higher rate of the tobacco usage among the LGBTQ+ community leaves them vulnerable not only to addiction but also many health problems from a wide range of cancers to heart and lung diseases. Unfortunately, the consequences of tobacco abuse include deaths each year due to tobacco-related issues.
How to help your Loved ones
Whether you are the queer individual yourself or a loved one is suffering from the abuse of any of this substance or substance, understand that you need to reach out to them and help them come back to life. Help them bolster their self-esteem and counsel them. Seek help from a professional rehabilitation center and help them get back to their normal and happy life.