What You Need to Know About Substance Abuse in the LGBTQ Community
Being a part of the LGBTQ community, openly or not, has a significant impact on how you see yourself and place in society. Those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning might feel pressured to join the community when they just want to live their life without being impacted by their sexual orientation or gender identity. Given the significant challenges people who identify as LGBTQ face, they are more likely to suffer from mental disorders like depression, anxiety and substance abuse.
LGBTQ Substance Abuse Statistics
The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual (LGB) Adults shows that LGB adults have a higher substance abuse rate than the national average. They are also less likely to receive treatment.
Individuals who identify as transgender are also more likely to experience mental health problems and struggle with substance abuse at a mucher higher rate than the rest of the population. Discrimination, social stigma, personal psychological struggles and abuse all place transgender people at a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder or misusing drugs and alcohol.
Unforuntately, there are still no national studies from accredited organizations that track substance abuse among the transgender population. Although they are substantially more likely to suffer from poor mental health, the transgender community remains largely underserved and misrepresented in the media.
Causes of LGBTQ Substance Abuse
Heteronormative cultural standards have made it difficult for an LGBTQ person to feel accepted and included in their daily lives. Even within their own families, someone who comes out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can face serious criticism and even become subject to physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Lack of social support, coupled with stigma about what it means to be LGBTQ, causes many individuals to suffer in silence or even deny their identity.
Self-Stigma and Body Dysmorphia
When someone realizes their gender identity or sexual orientation differ from what they see as “normal,” they are often likely to react with feelings of shame, guilt and anger. Rather than celebrating themselves for who they are, most people have some level of internalized stigmas that cause them to judge rather than accept themselves. When they perceive their identity as problematic, they’re more likely to begin struggling with symptoms of depression and anxiety. This can lead to substance abuse as a coping mechanism.
Many transgender people suffer from body dysmorphia, a condition that causes them to focus on their percieved flaws in their apperance. For someone who does not feel their anatomy matches their gender, this can cause significant distress and emotional grief that they are forced to confront on a daily basis.
Lack of Appropriate Medical Care
Many LGTBQ people have experienced discrimination in the medical field; their sexual health is often judged or condemned, and they have a difficult time finding sensitive practioners who understand their unique needs and challenges. This also persists in the mental health professional. Receiving treatment for a mental health problem, including substance abuse, is not as easy for someone who is LGBTQ as a straight, cis-gender person.
The lack of resources, fear of judgement and discrimination can leave people suffering alone for years.
LGBTQ Therapy in Denver, Colorado
Caring Heart Counseling prides itself on serving the Denver LGBTQ community with compassion, sensitivity and inclusivity. We respect all races, genders and sexualities at our practice and encourage any and everyone who wants to receive counseling to reach out.