People who identify as members of the LGBTQ community face unique social stigmas and discrimination that heterosexual individuals do not. These stressors as well as others place these individuals at a greater risk for behavioral health issues.
2015 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, LGBTQ individuals are more than twice as likely to have used illicit drugs in the past year. According to this study, ten percent misused prescription drugs, compared to four percent of heterosexual adults. LGBTQ people also have a greater likelihood of experiencing a substance abuse disorder in their lives and enter treatment with more severe substance abuse disorders. To put things into even greater perspective; an estimated 20 to 30 percent of the LGBTQ population as a whole abuses illicit substances, when that community is reported at being about nine percent of the entire population.
Looking particularly toward substance abuse, up to 25 percent of the general LGBTQ population has moderate alcohol dependency. Some subgroups have even higher rates of abuse. A reported 25 percent of bisexual women reported heavy drinking.
Substance abuse disorders are often co-occurring with other behavioral health conditions, like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and so on. LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts and ideation, and engage in self harm. Even among all adults, LGBTQ adults may experience behavioral health symptoms more greatly.
Common psychological or emotional disorders among the LGBT community include:
- Major depression
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- High levels of stress
- Low self-esteem
The LGBTQ community has unique stressors which shape and contribute to behavioral health and any potential coping habits, whether positive or negative. If any one person can be susceptible to coping a negative way, then we must consider that members of the LGBTQ community, who have considerable stressors and rates of illicit substance use, may be that much more susceptible. When counseling LGBTQ members and guiding them through their recovery journey, all of these elements must be kept in mind.
Tishanna Dillard, Marketing Operations Specialist
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