Alcohol Addiction in the LGBT Community

Alcohol addiction is a problem that affects close to 15 percent of the entire U.S. population. Research performed by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence shows that alcohol abuse rates are three times higher among the LGBT community than the mainstream population, meaning that roughly half of the LGBT community is struggling with a problem related to alcohol consumption. LGBT individuals are at increased risk of alcohol abuse problems for the following reasons:

  • Discrimination, judgment and hatred from others who are ignorant or intolerant of the LGBT community and sexual minorities: People in the LGBT community are often subject to prejudices that can be uncomfortable or painful to live with, especially when it comes to children and adolescents. Bullying and discriminatory acts are common, and the LGBT community is often victimized in these hateful acts. Everyday life can be more of a challenge for individuals with alternative sexual orientations, and alcohol can be used to cope with these challenges.
  • Negative emotions about one’s sexual identity: Shame, guilt, self-hatred, confusion and anger are all emotions individuals may struggle with in the process of accepting their own sexual identity or getting others to accept their sexual identity. Their sexual orientation may conflict with their or their family’s values, beliefs and traditions, and being open about their sexual identity may not seem like an option. Some individuals may have to hide their true identity or live double lives, and this can be extremely stressful, both physically and emotionally. Alcohol can be a way to self-medicate all the negativity they feels toward themselves and their sexual orientation.
  • The community: In an effort to find acceptance, individuals with alternative or non-mainstream sexual orientations have forged together as a community. Gay-friendly bars and nightclubs in urban communities were one of the first and only places for LGBT individuals to go to feel accepted, safe and comfortable. LGBT individuals could frequent these bars and nightclubs knowing they could be “themselves” in an environment that didn’t just accept their sexual orientation, but praised it. When the social environment of individuals is a bar, club or party, their lifestyle can easily revolve around drinking and using drugs.

These issues lead to the staggering rates of alcohol use and problematic drinking behavior in the LGBT community.

Challenges Facing LGBT Individuals in Alcohol Addiction Treatment

LGBT individuals who are looking for alcohol addiction treatment face many challenges.  LGBT individuals are not encouraged to seek treatment by their peers. The culture and lifestyle of the LGBT community involves alcohol use and partying. Because this community is where many LGBT individuals have grown to feel accepted, it can be especially difficult to choose a different lifestyle.

The LGBT community can feel like a safe-haven where LGBT individuals are free to be themselves, and leaving this environment can seem frightening. Gay and transgender individuals may wonder where else they will hang out, worrying that they will not be accepted by mainstream society or they will be discriminated against by the general public. Because LGBT individuals are less likely to reach out for addiction help on their own, they are more susceptible to developing co-occurring issues and disorders that further prevent them from getting help. Furthermore, many LGBT individuals are afraid of getting professional help because they do not feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation with healthcare providers who may be intolerant.

Find LGBT-Friendly Alcohol Rehab Centers

To find the best LGBT-friendly alcohol addiction recovery options for you, call our toll-free helpline. Our addiction counselors are here 24 hours a day to help you find a healthy, happy and drug-free life.