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Preventing and treating addiction requires professional knowledge, ongoing access to resources and a strong social support system. The prevalence of troubled personal relationships among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals contributes to the high substance abuse rates within this community.
Intimate Partner Violence and Addiction among the LGBT Community
The Journal of Internal Medicine published an article entitled “Addressing Intimate Partner Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Patients” (2011). This article reports that 14% of gay or lesbian individuals experience physical abuse by a partner at some point in their lives, while up to 34% of transgender individuals experience this violence. This article reports that gay individuals may be less likely to report domestic violence for fear of “outing” themselves to friends, family and the community at large in the process. LGBT individuals may also have greater trouble finding support at shelters. A desire to keep sexual orientation a secret or an inability to find resources for LGBT individuals can cause more individuals to stay in unhealthy relationships. When community and social support is not available, individuals may turn to drugs to cope with a physically or verbally abusive relationship. They may choose to mask feelings with alcohol, painkillers or other drugs, and using drugs as a coping mechanism can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.
How Discrimination Can Lead to Addiction within the Gay Community
Discrimination keeps many LGBT individuals from developing strong personal relationships outside the LGBT community. Personal relationships with coworkers, family and the general public may be troubled or disrupted by discrimination, and a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that greater levels of discrimination are associated with greater levels of substance use disorders. LGBT adults who reported experiencing discrimination related to their sexual orientation, race, and gender were nearly four times as likely to struggle with substance use disorders.
The Benefits of Healthy Personal Relationships for Addiction Prevention
The article “The Impact of Role Models on Health Outcomes for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth” in the Journal of Adolescent Health (2012) explains the importance of healthy personal relationships and strong role models in protecting or developing psychological health. Individuals with positive role models were less likely to experience stress, a factor that contributes to drug abuse and addiction. Positive relationships give individuals a feeling of community, healthy outlets for communication and incentives for finding or maintaining a healthy and drug-free life.
Addiction Help for LGBT Individuals
Successful addiction recovery involves finding resources that welcome LGBT individuals while recognizing the unique challenges they face in their personal and social lives. Call our toll-free helpline, and let us connect you to the right professionals. Our admissions coordinators are caring, knowledgeable and here for you 24 hours a day. Find a supportive, understanding and effective recovery community.