Much has been made of the accelerated rate of alcoholism and drug addiction among gay and lesbian populations. While studies continue to confirm these rates of substance abuse in the LGBT community, the reasons cited for these numbers can be heartbreaking. From teen homelessness due to rejection by families of origin to the alcohol- and drug-intensive scenes of the gay and lesbian bar and dance circuits, many individuals in the LGBT community face daily pressures around substance abuse that far exceed those of the heterosexual population. Until compassionate, comprehensive treatment for substance abuse is sought, many gay and lesbian individuals live an existence where these undue pressures are further compounded by addiction.

Gay and Lesbian Addiction Statistics

Though many studies exclude assessment of the gay and lesbian population, those that exist have reached conclusions about the need for addiction treatment in the LGBT culture. Here are just a few of the addiction statistics culled from studies conducted by both government and university sociologists and anthropologists.

  • More than half of gay men will encounter an issue with chemical dependency or addiction over the course of their lifetimes.
  • The rate of methamphetamines addiction among gay and lesbian individuals occurs at an alarmingly high rate–in fact, the gay community is 40 percent more likely than the general population to engage in meth use.
  • According to a 1992 California survey, nearly one in three lesbian or bisexual women in San Francisco Bay Area had engaged in drug use, with more than 14 percent of women surveyed becoming the victims of violence while intoxicated.
  • LGBT teenagers are nearly 200 percent more likely than straight teens to use illicit substances such as drugs or alcohol, according to a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center study.
  • In 2000, a study of heterosexual and homosexual couples found that gay and lesbian couples engaged in drug use at a rate of 10 percent, as opposed to 7.6 percent for their straight counterparts.
  • Among a study of Australian LGBT individuals, nearly one in five respondents engaged in weekly marijuana use, with more than seven percent engaging in daily use of the drug.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Social Services reports that nearly 30 percent of gay and lesbian individuals experience problem drinking, alcohol dependency or alcoholism.

Gay and Lesbian Addiction Treatment

For gay and lesbian individuals, overcoming alcoholism and drug addiction begins with a safe, supportive environment. Gay and lesbian addiction treatment programs can provide a tolerant atmosphere with educated addiction counselors who can guide LGBT patients through the recovery process. From counseling sessions that address gay and lesbian issues such as pressures to conform, self-identity issues, family rejection and social pressures within the LGBT community, treatment can be tailored while still addressing the unique patient as an individual. Transitional planning can help gay and lesbian individuals begin to plan the reconstruction of a sober life, including the contributions of compassionate mental health and physicians in their locale, and nearby LGBT-friendly 12-step support groups.