Sexual minorities often have to face specific challenges that can lead to emotional and psychological stress. From the high pressure and rejection that can be identified with the coming out process to the fears of physical violence experienced by transgendered individuals, many in the LGBT community seek drug and alcohol use in order to escape, cope or attempt to gain acceptance. For many individuals, ongoing self-medication with drug and alcohol use merely leads to addiction over time and as tolerance builds. In fact, studies have shown that the LGBT community encounters a higher incidence of alcoholism and drug addiction than the mainstream population, largely due to the intense pressures faced by those in the community. In fact, 55 percent of gay men will struggle with drug addiction, and studies have shown that LGBT youth have triple the odds of facing drug addiction than their straight peers.
Issues Addressed in LGBT Drug Rehab
At an LGBT drug rehab program, the availability of compassionate and tolerant treatment should be a given. In order to heal psychological and emotional aspects of drug addiction among those in the LGBT community, some of the deeper-seated issues relating to the gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual population may be addressed. Here are just a few of the issues that may arise during the course of LGBT drug rehabilitation treatment:
- Prejudice and Intolerance
LGBT individuals experience high rates of bullying, prejudice and intolerance – oftentimes both by strangers and those they love. As LGBT individuals experience the emotional turmoil and psychological pain of ostracization, mockery and social rejection, many turn to drug use. Eventually, with enough time and instances of abuse, drug addiction begins to take a physical hold on users, compounding emotional reasons for drug use.
- Familial Rejection and the “Coming Out” Process
For many individuals, the coming out process (during which individuals reconcile themselves with LGBT status and share their identities with the world) is one wrought with fear and pain. Whether the coming out process is initiated during a LGBT individual’s early or adult years, worries about rejection, condemnation and isolation can be as real as they are frightening. As a result, drug use among teenagers (as well as those undergoing the coming out process later in life) tends to run astronomically high.
- Depression and Anxiety
Many individuals in the gay and lesbian community suffer from major and moderate forms of depression. In fact, suicide attempts among LGBT teenagers remains tremendously higher than their heterosexual counterparts. In cases where a mental health concern has developed as the result of mistreatment, a drug rehabilitation facility with Dual Diagnosis capacity may be necessary. Through the use of qualified counseling and psychiatric medication, many individuals can heal emotionally and eliminate the need to self-medicate with drug use.
- Past Traumatic Incidents
Unfortunately, many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals have been victims of physical, verbal and sexual violence during their adult years. In fact, physical fears of harassment, reprisal or hate crimes haunt the LGBT community even in the 21st century. Unfortunately, many individuals within the LGBT community have encountered such violence and intolerance already, leading to compromised self-views, depression, suicide attempts, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For those struggling with drug addiction, attacks may have occurred during periods of intoxication, further adding to the self-blame LGBT individuals may feel. By analyzing the effects of these traumatic incidents – and eliminating any associated self-blame – LGBT individuals can heal past wounds that may be contributing to current drug use.
- Social Pressures
Particularly after coming out, many individuals within the LGBT community can feel pressure to use drugs from within the scene itself. With a strong party presence ranging from lesbian bars to gay dance clubs, many individuals make initial attempts to “fit in” to certain, limited aspects of LGBT culture by engaging in drug use. Furthermore, for LGBT young adults, attempts to find peer groups in the late teenage years within the LGBT community may prove more difficult, engendering older friends with increased availability of drugs and alcohol.