LGBTQ People Are More Likely to Use – Realizing that you are LGBTQ can be traumatic, stressful, and freeing. Learning about who you are should be an experience that brings about growth, but learning you are part of a smaller, often stigmatized population can lead to a host of problems if not faced directly. Stress triggers are common in the LGBTQ community. Some of these stress triggers include fear of persecution, isolation, emotional trauma, internalized homophobia, religious intolerance, social discrimination, frustration, and loneliness. Each of these will be reviewed, explained, and related to substance abuse below.
Fear of persecution is a big factor in many hiding their LGBTQ status. Though it is more acceptable to be LGBTQ at this time in history than ever before, the stigma is still attached. Many people fear this stigma and end up leading a double life. The life presented to others as a happy person in a typical heterosexual lifestyle and a life in which sexuality in other manners is acceptable. The hidden lifestyle means secrets and lying. The stress of having two very distinct lifestyles can lead to drug use. The drug use seemingly makes it easier to lie about one part of life and handle the stigma attached to the other. This is one reason why LGBTQ people are more likely to use. Unfortunately drugs tend to confound the issues more than help.
Isolation that arises from public ridicule and rejection. For those that do choose to make their sexuality public, isolation and ridicule may ensue. This rejection can come from those close to the individual or the public at large. This ridicule creates a great deal of stress and those wanting to escape the distress may turn to drugs and alcohol. These substances will simply numb the stress, not remove it, but for many they are an option that can ultimately lead to more stress and disturbing behavior.
Emotional trauma and internalized homophobia are also concerns. When some individuals make their feelings known it can lead to an abusive situation. This can be for those of any age. Family members and friends may make the LGBTQ individual feel bad for how they feel or make them believe homosexuality is a horrible plague on those who take part in the lifestyle. This can lead to internalized homophobia. This internalization can make the person feel terrible in their own body, leaving drugs as a seemingly viable option for escape. The intolerance may also be religious based as some in the LGBTQ community may be members of religious groups or brought up in faith. These people may feel that they are terrible for their feelings and need to find a way to numb those feelings.
Finally, social discrimination can lead to difficulty finding jobs and love interests. This creates loneliness and isolation that can be difficult to overcome. All of this fear and isolation can lead to the need to escape reality, even for a moment. Drugs and alcohol can temporarily offer this escape, but can create problems on their own. Once the user has reached a low point and decided to take a chance on recovery, the real work begins. If you are ready for this step than treatment is right for you. Just remember that the outcome is totally up to the person in treatment and the work put into recovery will make a difference on the outcome.
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