I wouldn’t be catching anyone off guard if I said that many people within the LGBT community experience significant hardships. Then again, people who aren’t part of the community don’t necessarily see these problems…or understand them. And unfortunately, some still don’t care to understand to this day.
People within the LGBT community can sometimes encounter difficulties like no other population in modern society. And these hardships can lead one down a road of tremendous anxiety, depression…and unfortunately, addiction. Here are some reasons why substance use disorder finds itself in the lives of many LGBT people today:
Wait a minute. Isn’t this a good thing? Hasn’t the community made strides in this area?
Of course you can make the argument that the U.S. recently passed gay marriage into law, allowing those of the same gender to be legally recognized. But there are some crucial areas where the community doesn’t have legal protection or recourse, and it opens up some slippery slopes.
Did you know that an LGBT individual is not protected from discrimination as an employee under federal law? And they are also not protected as a tenant? Yes, in 2019 there are no federal laws stating that an employer cannot fire an LGBT person from employment or a landlord cannot evict someone just because they’re gay.
This leaves many in the community with a sense of anxiety and severe depression, which can ultimately lead someone with a predisposition to addiction down a road to substance abuse. Quite honestly, think about how small it could make you feel to know you could be fired or evicted just because someone doesn’t agree with your sexual orientation?
It’s no mystery that in some places there’s still a social stigma toward the LGBT community. These individuals are at a constant risk of persecution, harassment, and violence. Some are even ostracized by their own family due to traditional religious beliefs. This type of traumatic experience can leave someone with a great deal of guilt, shame, and hopelessness.
Again, with someone who is predisposed to addiction, these problems can manifest into a depression or anxiety trigger. Unfortunately, the easiest way for someone to cope is to get intoxicated…get high…numb the pain. What adds to this ineffective coping is something that is a huge problem within the community:
Lack of Dedicated Resources
There are severely limited resources available to the LGBT community for mental health disorders and substance abuse. Because of the social problems mentioned above, an LGBT individual might not feel comfortable going to a regular clinic. They may prefer a psychiatrist or therapist who could provide dedicated LGBT therapy.
When it comes to mental health and substance use disorder, it requires someone to open themselves up to a service provider and be vulnerable. They need to feel like they’re in a safe and private place. Unfortunately, there is a lack of dedicated resources for this population in many metropolitan areas. Many don’t feel like they have a place or person to turn to.
With a lack of basic rights in key areas, the looming social stigma, and lack of resources in the community, many LGBT individuals find themselves ineffectively coping with mental health problems. This often causes them to stray down a dark path toward substance abuse. Only with more attention drawn to these problems, which includes the attention of lawmakers and key advocacy groups, can those in the LGBT community who suffer from substance use disorder be helped…and recover.