LGBTQIA+ and Addiction

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LGBTQIA+ and addiction is a topic that can feel complex, but it is anything but. Instead, the risk factors for being LGBTQIA+ and developing an addiction are stark.

The LGBTQIA+ community has never been more vocal and prominent as it is today. A huge reason for that is the blood, sweat, and tears put in for decades by members of the community to share in equal legal and human rights. More people are openly members of LGBTQIA+ today than before, with about 4.5% of American adults identifying within this community. In fact, as more negative stigma has been broken down regarding this community, it has grown in ways that have forced the change of the infamous “LGBT” acronym. Now, the appropriate term for this community of individuals is LGBTQIA+, as it includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual. The + added to the end represents those who are pansexual, demisexual, and polyamorous, as well as those who do not identify within this group but who are allies of the community. 

While LGBTQIA+ has grown over time, members still face several challenges, hurdles, and setbacks simply because of who they love. Years upon years of discrimination, maltreatment, and even terrorism, have contributed to higher rates of substance abuse and addiction in the LGBTQIA+ community. 

LGBTQIA+ and Addiction

Everyone, regardless of who they love, faces challenges in their lives that can predispose them to potentially abusing drugs or alcohol in the future. But for the LGBTQIA+ community, the kinds of things that they experience are more targeted, specific instances that are fueled solely on their sexual preference. And unfortunately, many of these experiences serve as catalysts for substance abuse and subsequent addiction. 

Prejudice and discrimination 

Many people often interchange the terms “prejudice” and “discrimination” with one another, but they are two separate things. The LGBTQIA+ community experiences prejudice when others who do not share their lifestyle make assumptions about them based on their orientation. These assumptions are typically untrue and promote a negative connotation with this group of individuals. 

Discrimination takes prejudice one step farther. Instead of just having preconceived notions about a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, those who discriminate against them take physical action to bar them from doing something or receiving something. For example, the Trump Administration revamped the old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for American troops by asking LGBTQIA+ members to keep their status hidden if they are currently serving in the armed forces. This was a high-profile discriminatory action that impacted thousands. 

Rejection from loved ones

Coming out as gay, bisexual, transgender, or even questioning to a person’s family can unfortunately come with some serious emotional backlash. Despite younger generations accepting LGBTQIA+ individuals, many older generations still struggle with the concept of it. This can result in parents of someone who is polyamorous or bisexual, etc. rejecting them when they finally come out. This rejection can reach throughout the family, with aunts, uncles, godparents, grandparents, etc. refusing to accept their loved one’s sexual preference. 


There is a deep-rooted, thick stigma associated with the LGBTQIA+ community that, despite all the progress they have made, still sticks in the minds of people from all over the world. Even those who come to the realization that they are not straight may struggle with accepting their truth, as they hate their reality. They might not even agree with individuals dating others from the same sex, yet they desire to do so. That self-hatred can cause a person to hide this part of their lives as a result, which can be depressing, anxiety-provoking, and overwhelming.

These are just some of the risk factors that the LGBTQIA+ community faces, while others include hate crimes, rejection from peers, and self-image issues.

LGBTQIA+ and Substance Use Disorder Statistics 

In comparison with other groups of individuals, those who are LGBTQIA+ often suffer from more severe substance use disorders. This means that right out of the gate, a large population of LGBTQIA+ individuals are in need of more thorough addiction treatment care than others may be. Thankfully, studies have shown that those who are LGBTQIA+ respond well to professional care, especially when participating in specialized programs designed just for them. Having the right type of care available when needed is a priceless option for this group of individuals, because the risks associated with their substance use disorders are often more pressing and concerning.

For example, LGBTQIA+ individuals are at greater risk for suffering from a mental illness than those who are straight. That means that in addition to a substance use disorder, many people within this community are also attempting to cope with one or more comorbid mental illnesses at the same time as their substance use disorder. This often means that when they do decide to get treatment, their care will be more involved and detailed in order to address these factors. 

Another factor that plays a role in this community more than others is the prevalence of bloodborne diseases, such as HIV. HIV is more common in men who engage in intercourse with other men, as well as transgender individuals who have intercourse with men. This can add another layer of complexity to one’s situation, however ending active addiction and getting help can make a huge difference.

LGBTQIA+ and Addiction Treatment

The good news is, several evidence-based therapeutic treatments have proven to work wonders for those in the LGBTQIA+ community who are in recovery. Specifically:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Contingency management
  • Social support therapy 

Even though research shows that less than 10% of treatment facilities offer LGBTQIA+ specialized programs, there are several ways to locate these facilities, as well as identify therapists and other treatment specialists with backgrounds in treating LGBTQIA+ individuals. The most important thing a person can do if they are grappling with a substance use disorder and/or a mental illness is to reach out and ask for help.

LGBTQIA+ Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder and are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, reach out to us right now. You deserve the treatment that will help you begin building a happy, joyful life. 
So, do not wait. Call us right now to learn more about how we can help.

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