June 2020 is Pride Month. Annually, LGBT Pride Month is a celebration of the LGTBQ+ community in a number of different ways to recognize the influence the LGTBQ+ community has around the country and around the world. The month of June was chosen to celebrate Pride Month because it was the month when the Stonewall Riots took place in 1969.

Addiction impacts the LGTBQ+

With June being LGBT Pride Month, we wanted to take a couple of moments to take a look at how addiction impacts the LGTBQ+ community, as it is well-known that members of the LGTBQ+ community face higher risks of addiction and substance use disorder issues compared to heterosexual individuals.

In 2017, more than twice as many LGTBQ+ adults reported using drugs within the past year compared to adults that identify as heterosexual. Additionally, during the same time frame, LGTBQ+ adults were nearly twice as likely to have had an alcohol or drug issue within the past year, when compared to heterosexual adults. Co-occurring disorders and mental health issues also impact the LGTBQ+ community at greater rates than the general public, with LGTBQ+ individuals much more likely than heterosexual adults to report issues related to mental health and mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, thoughts about or attempted suicide, and other behavioral or emotional problems. LGTBQ persons also are more likely to seek help and enter treatment for addiction, substance use disorder, co-occurring disorders, or mental health issues with more severe symptoms or severe diagnoses than non-LGTQB+ persons.

So, what are the reasons behind why substance use disorder and addiction rates are so much higher in the LGTBQ+ community than in other communities or the general public? There are a number of reasons that this may occur. Stigma towards members of the LGTBQ+ community. High levels of stress associated with the stigma that LGTBQ+ individuals face. Social prejudice. Discrimination. Additionally, as it relates to seeking services for the LGTBQ+ population, additional issues persist in relation to limited addiction and mental health treatment services for the LGTBQ+ population. Additionally, potential discrimination may occur in by some organizations, treatment staff, or throughout treatment settings. While there is a basic understanding or belief that anyone, anywhere, regardless of circumstances can be impacted by addiction, what needs to be understood is that, if person-centered, individualized treatment is to truly be achieved, then that treatment setting and clinical support must be able to directly deal with the patient’s specific issues, and for many in the LGTBQ+ population, those issues in some way revolve around living as an LGTBQ+ individual within the current state of society.

The LGTBQ+ community is gravely impacted by addiction and mental health issues. Rehabs, addiction treatment centers, and treatment providers must make a greater effort in being able to treat and support this community, whether through increased understanding, programming, or training. Treatment centers need to move from understanding to affirming. Throughout the treatment field, more LGTBQ+ focused facilities are needed so that community feels safe, in order to begin the process of overcoming addiction and finding recovery. And the addiction treatment field as a whole needs to do what it can to be allies of the LGTBQ+ community, affirming in their clinical practices, and offer a safe space for healing to a population that greatly needs it.

If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at info@marylandaddictionrecovery.com. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.