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LGBT and Substance Abuse: Drug Use Problems Among Sexual Minorities

LGBTQ people make up a pretty big slice of the current American population; however, these individuals have often been significantly underrepresented in several pieces of research about substance abuse. Luckily though, in recent years, scientists have started taking into consideration the factors that characterize LGBT substance abuse in order to find valid treatment options for them as well.

LGBTQ and Substance Abuse

Scientists began evaluating LGBT substance abuse statistics in the late 1970s and found that the LGBT addiction rate was way higher when compared to that of heterosexual individuals. More specifically, it was found that the use of Methamphetamine was significantly elevated and that it was potentially linked to an increased risk of HIV transmission.

It has recently been reported that the risk of transgender substance abuse is significantly higher than that of cisgender individuals, while the rates of Methamphetamine abuse in lesbian, gay and transgender women are above the average as well. Furthermore, a 2014 LGBT addiction study highlighted that transgender women were more likely to have used needles to inject drugs during 2013 than cisgender women were.

The NIH website offers some insight into recent statistics and studies on substance use and abuse among the LGBTQ populations.

LGBT Drug Rehab: Addiction Treatment for LBGTQ Patients

People who identify in a sexual minority are often required to face discrimination, stigma, violence, abuse, and different challenges that are usually not encountered by heterosexual people. As a result, LGBTQ individuals are put under a lot of stress, and, more often than we’d like to think, these factors can lead to substance abuse in the LGBT community.

Studies show that LGBT treatment-seeking individuals also have higher rates of mental illnesses; transgender men and women are even twice more likely to be diagnosed with mental conditions when compared to cisgender people. Not to mention that LGBTQ individuals are 2 or 3 times more likely to develop suicidal thoughts.

In several studies, LGBT substance abuse treatment has resulted in being underdeveloped, and a significant number of drug addiction counselors have shown negative attitudes towards gay drug addicts, while others have failed to think about the possibility that these people might need special treatment programs to fulfill their needs. Luckily, there are LGBTQ treatment centers that are equipped with the right treatment plans and staff to correctly provide a safe environment for individuals belonging to a sexual minority.

Treatment Features For Sexual Minorities

The lack of LGBT addiction recovery options has brought several rehab centers to develop programs that are specifically designed and thought for LGBT addiction treatment. There is still need for a lot of these facilities and, in order to point providers in the right direction, a 2013 study of gay and lesbian alumni from different rehab programs underlined three ideal services a proper LGBT residential treatment should include:

  • A separate unit designed explicitly for homosexuality rehab to welcome and host LGBTQ patients and allies.
  • A staff that includes LGBTQ individuals or allies who can understand the struggles the patients had to go through.
  • A variety of treatment programs for several addictions that are precisely thought for the LGBTQ population.

How Effective is Rehab Treatment for LBTQ Patients?

Although there has been a variety of studies and research about LGBT substance abuse and there have been a lot of investigations on LGBT treatment centers, there are still no reports on LGBT addiction recovery outcomes and how the results look when compared to the rehabilitation rate of heterosexual individuals. This happens because the development of LGBT treatment programs has only just begun; therefore, there’s still no data available on how effective rehab can be for LGBTQ subjects in the long run.

However, we can also see that recent studies have used large-scale data on the population to get a more specific idea of drug abuse outcomes among the members of sexual minority communities.

More specifically, a 2012 NTIES (National Treatment Improvement Evaluation Study) research suggests that there isn’t a big difference between the success rate of heterosexual or homosexual patients.

As a result, it’s clear that seeking proper treatment, even if the program isn’t specialized in LGBTQ clients, is absolutely necessary to achieve a full recovery and have the chance to live a regular life.