Is your substance use masking a bigger problem?

Gay men are known to be anxious, inhibited, fear criticism, and have a need for connection to others. Party drugs are one of the easiest and most common ways for gay men help cope with these feelings and fears. While drugs my help cope, they never deal with unwanted feelings or address insecurities. When drug […]

Health Mental Health Bill Coleman, PhD

Gay men are known to be anxious, inhibited, fear criticism, and have a need for connection to others. Party drugs are one of the easiest and most common ways for gay men help cope with these feelings and fears. While drugs my help cope, they never deal with unwanted feelings or address insecurities.

When drug use begins to cause problems most people admit that it’s time to make a change, which often results in discontinuing with the drug use. But it’s important to understand why guys are turning to drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms.

Most people turn to drugs or alcohol because the substance helps in dealing with a scary world and make things more comfortable. Gay men have learned that to survive as youth you need to fit in and be nice to others. That means looking outside and not being true to you. It’s not being genuine or authentic to you. But this is how confused youth learn how to survive.

Unfortunately, most queer youth don’t get the opportunity to learn what being gay is, or how to be themselves. As they enter adulthood, most don’t even have basic dating experience. Pile on top of that the stereotype of gay men being creative, artistic, fashion conscious, obsessed with being neat and tidy, and having exemplarity behavior. Except for being creative and artistic, these are similar characteristics of someone who may have anxiety with concerns of fitting in and pleasing others.

Substance use helps get out of this restrictive box, but only temporarily. Drugs work short term, but they don’t fix or address the problem. They just mask them. The hard work comes by addressing the need of the substance use.

If you feel you have a drug or alcohol problem, consult with a physician or medical professional.

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