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LGBTQ & Addiction: Causes, Resources & Treatment

LGBTQ Addiction & Recovery Ireland

Irish studies have shown that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community show higher substance abuse rates compared to the general population. More.

Elevated feelings of guilt, shame and doubt are all products of the social stigma, discrimination and humiliating behaviour the LGBTQ community face and battle with daily.

It’s these high levels of stress that can be particularly harmful to their mental health and push them towards alcohol and drug abuse.

Raising Awareness on LGBTQ+ and Addiction

20-30% of the LGBTQ+ population are affected by substance abuse disorders compared to 8.4% of the general population – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Here at Smarmore Castle, we are well aware that feelings of shame and guilt can destroy your life and lead you down a path of self-destruction. Let us be the hand that guides you back. If you are struggling with substance abuse or alcohol addiction, we can help. Call +353 41 214 5111 or see Admissions. 

What Makes Someone Start Smoking

Challenges faced

People identifying as LGBTQ undoubtedly encounter many more challenges than those identifying as heterosexual. Even during addiction recovery, LGBTQ individual will need to overcome several additional obstacles on their road to recovery.

In addition to dealing with homophobia in society, LGBTQ individuals are at a greater risk of harassment, scrutiny, bullying and violence, and it’s these stressors that increase the risk of various behavioural issues and disorders.

This increased level of stress stems from discrimination as well as the perceived discrimination they might face, as well as internalised homophobia, which is a direct result of what the LGBTQ+ individuals experience from society.

Following a study by SAMHSA it was discovered:

 Adults identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual have higher rates of mental illness compared to people who identify as heterosexual

  • Members of the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to seek treatment for their substance use disorders
  • 1% of lesbians, gays or bisexuals used illicit drugs in comparison to 17.1% of heterosexuals
  • 1% were found to have reported a substance abuse disorder

 “Irish research has shown that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, particularly younger people, are at greater risk of experiencing mental health problems than the general population.” Lyons, Suzi

 Alcohol, drugs and substance abuse amongst the LGBTQ+ community

 As members of this community face many more obstacles and challenges, there has been a call for treatments and services to adapt to their needs and provide them with a safe and understandable place for recovery.

As members of the community grow up, their internalised homophobia can cause extreme low self-esteem and even self-hate as they struggle to accept their own sexuality.

This then can act as triggers for drug and alcohol abuse and individuals self-medicate to manage their feelings as it can provide a short escape from negative thoughts.

But as addiction specialists, we know that these fearful feelings of shame and self-loathing have the potential to heighten and become worse the more you become addicted.

One of the challenges we face as therapists is discovering which issue came first; drug and alcohol abuse or mental illness. This can especially difficult as we know that alcohol and many recreational drugs can contribute to mental disorders like addiction and mental illnesses tend to feed off of each other.

Whatever the cause, we know addiction is a vicious downward spiral, which can be very hard to break free from without the right support or medical assistance.

‘Drug of choice’ amongst gay, bisexual and transgender young adults in Ireland

 Alcohol dependency

Ever-present in the lives of many individuals, alcohol has become something of a pressing issue amongst LGBTQ individuals in respect of the issue of addiction.

The simple reason for this is that social life within much of the LGBTQ+ community revolves around venues and locations, where drinking alcohol is the social normality.

The pressure on individuals to drink, often to excess, to fit into the party scene of gay clubs and bars means that many people find themselves addicted without even fully realising that they have a dependency on alcohol. 

Drugs abuse

 Similarly to alcohol abuse, drug abuse is also common within the community for many various reasons.

Common substances include: 

  • Marijuana/Cannabis
  • Stimulants and hallucinogens
  • Cocaine, crystal meth, methadone & GHB
  • Sedatives and tranquillizers

LGBTQ treatment centres

 For decades we have seen how difficult it has been for anyone to seek treatment for their mental health problems and addictions as a result of the prejudice and stigma surrounding rehab and addiction.

For LGBTQ+ people facing homophobic or transphobic discrimination, finding the right help or support can seem an impossible task.

We’ve seen how many healthcare professionals in Ireland are not experienced or even trained in supporting this community and providing specific healthcare services to treat their unique cases of addiction.

Specific healthcare can be provided through charities, other organisations or the NHS (HSE), which can provide free help in the form of therapy and group workshops.

However, here at Smarmore Castle, we are a private healthcare provider, who employs the best psychiatrists and medical staff to help you achieve the best chance at long-lasting recovery.

Our addiction treatment programmes identify triggers and provide coping techniques to help you reintegrate back in social settings safely.

 Call +353412145111.

Additional resources