This article was published on June 3rd, 2020
Members of the LGBT community are more accepted now than at any time in modern history and while there is more freedom across the board, a significant party culture lies in the underbelly of mainstream culture that is not addressed as often as other aspects of queer life. Drug abuse and addiction are persistent problems not only in the heterosexual world, but also within the LGBT community. As they continue to be a silent killer, HomoCulture delves into the issues which need to be addressed directly in order to support those currently living with these conditions.
Silence is violence, and with drug and substance abuse an unspoken truth for many in the LGBT realm, society at large has failed to speak out on the problem in proportion to how prevailing it is. Often times, drug addicts are shamed for the choices they make and the situations they are in, and collectively, the LGBT community must first acknowledge the problem and work together towards a solution.
Dissent and Descent into Drug Culture
The pressure points for queer people can be quite substantial considering that many struggle with isolation from friends family members because of their sexuality. With societal norms also hovering overhead, it can be exceedingly difficult for LGBT youth to cope as there are often times a lack of support, causing some to turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate.
For queer people that are looking for a fast lane to drown their sorrows, the ‘party & play’ scene offers a popular escape that has remained popular over the decades, although in various forms. Sites like Craigslist and dating apps are known hotspots for sessions that involve multiple partners and a smorgasbord of drugs that include crystal meth, ecstasy, GHB, heroin, and others that are known for not just their psychotropic effects, but conversely how addictive they potentially can be.
Drug abuse in LGBT spaces has always been a constant, and there is a community feel and openness that has somewhat destigmatized drug use, making it increasingly difficult for queer people to abstain from drugs or seek out treatment for their addictions. This unofficial stamp of approval on drugs and drug culture means that there are fewer actually seeking out treatment. For those that are noticing certain signs and are searching for recovery options, there are fewer rehabilitation facilities available to them, and the ones that are there report an alarming number of LGBT people that relapse and return to their previous social activities. Drug addiction is a group problem and collectively, LGBT members must commit to standing up against it in an organized, yet compassionate manner so that recovery levels can improve consistently and the stigma associated subsides.
The Rates, Reasoning, and Treatments in the LGBT Community
There has been substantial research and studies implemented in efforts to better understand the prevalence of substance abuse in the LGBT community, which is more likely to suffer from trauma due to various internal and external factors. Compared to other communities, LGBT members report higher incidences of stressful childhoods, bullying, hate crime victimization, and family conflicts. All of these are stressors and more can significantly impact substance abuse and prove daunting for those that are overwhelmed by a host of these and other socioeconomic issues.
Although LGBT individuals seek out treatment options at a higher rate than their heterosexual counterparts, the fact remains that there are fewer programs specifically geared towards queer patients. Further studies note that substance abuse counselors often hold negative views on LGBT clients, with many ill-prepared to consider the unique needs to this segment of the population, resulting in ineffective treatment. These previous missteps in treatment practices has luckily led to better options for the LGBT community now, but the problem still remains that finding these newer services remains quite difficult. Increased amplification of drug and substance abuse issues must be practiced so that better access to professional treatment can be administered.
Astonishingly, there are few reports on the outcomes of LGBT individuals after they have received treatment, especially when compared to heterosexual patients. This crucial lapse in research design means that members of the LGBT community are less likely to get the most effective treatment as studies lack the data to assess how accurate substance abuse programs are. As drug and substance abuse continues to be a silent killer within the LGBT community, elevated screening and treatment options are a necessity that must be enacted consistently in order to be beneficial to this segment of the population.