Gay men are at Greater Risk of Drug Addiction and Alcoholism Based on research; it appears that gay men, as well as women, are at a higher risk of being addicted to drug or alcohol addiction than heterosexuals. Homosexuality is related to issues such as internalized homophobia, prejudice, shame, discrimination, all fertile ground for the development of drug addiction and alcoholism. Different than most populations, all of the problems mentioned above, seem to be fostered in the family system and therefore are present from the first day.
The Gay Family System and Drug Addiction For a moment; imagine being parents and patiently waiting for that day your son or daughter announces the day they’re a wedding, only to discover they are gay or lesbian and that day will never occur or that they will never have children the usual way. It is rare for a family to accept the situation and offer encouragement. The day of “coming out” is always met with shock, disappointment, anger, embarrassment or denial. In many cases, these emotions are presented in a less than productive method creating deeper feelings of shame, resentment, and depression on the part of the gay man or woman. When this occurs, what better way to cope than to turn to alcohol or drugs. This is the beginning of their drug addiction and alcoholism. The problem here is that it doesn’t do anything to change others’ beliefs or the way the gay man feels. Drug Addiction and alcoholism just turn an already complex situation into a more challenging one.
Mental Illness, Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Dual Diagnosis and the gay man and woman When we research gay drug rehab, drug addiction, crystal meth addiction or gay alcoholism we discover an increase in gay drug addiction and gay alcoholism across the board. When we take a look at gay drug addiction and gay drug rehab admissions, we must as well take a look at associated mental health problems. It appears that the majority of gay men admitted to gay drug rehab suffer from a co-occurring mental health problem like depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, etc. As with drug addiction or alcoholism, this is easy to comprehend when one examines the problems a gay man and woman has to face. Growing up in a predominantly heterosexual environment with strong views on sexuality, homophobia is something a man that is gay or a gay woman must experience on a daily basis. When faced with constant difficulties relating to family, relationships, self-worth, sexual identity anybody’s mental health is sure to be challenged. When a lot of gay men or women are faced with feelings of depression, they turn to drugs and alcohol which in many cases ends up in a drug addiction and alcohol addiction. This is known as a double diagnosis; a mental health disorder in collaboration with drug addiction and alcoholism.
Gay drug Addiction and gay drug rehab as there has been an increase in drug addiction as well as alcoholism among gay men and women, the amount of gay drug rehab programs has not increased in the same proportion. Whether it is a gay addiction treatment program, gay drug rehab, or gay component in a drug rehab, addiction treatment services for the gay and lesbian population need to become more available.
Drug Addiction, Alcoholism and Dual Diagnosis in the Gay and Lesbian Community
Alcoholism and drug addiction is a fatal chronic illness affecting the lives of 20 to 30% of the gay population (Ziebold; Mongeon, 1982). Research has found that 35% of lesbians had a history of excessive alcohol intake, compared to just 5% of the women that are heterosexual in the sample (Saghir, 1970; Lewis, 1982). About 30% of lesbians and gay men get addicted to drugs (Rofes, 1983). The facts prove that the homosexual community constitutes a high-risk population about drug addiction, alcoholism, and dual diagnosis.
Why is drug addiction or alcohol addiction such a problem? It is imperative not to assume that homosexuality causes gay drug rehab and gay alcohol addiction. When lesbians, gays, and bisexuals internalize society’s homophobic opinions and beliefs, the results can be devastating. Society’s hatred turns into self-hatred. As a minority group; lesbians, gays, as well as bisexuals are victims of systemic or ongoing oppression. It can cause feelings of alienation, despair, self-destructive behavior, low self-esteem, and drug addiction (Nicoloff & Stiglitz, 1987). Some lesbians, gays, and bisexuals resort to drug abuse and alcohol abuse as a means to numb the feelings of being unique, to relieve emotional pain or to reduce inhibitions about their sexual urges. Drug abuse or alcohol abuse often starts in early adolescence when youth first start to struggle with their sexual orientation. When encompassed by messages telling you are wrong and sick for who you are, suddenly you begin to believe it. Having to hide your personality and deal with homophobic comments and attitudes- often made by unknowing friends and family — can have a profound effect on you. Lesbians and gay men are also seven times more likely to be the victims of punishable crimes than the normal citizen (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 1984). In regards to this overwhelming oppression and homophobia, gay men, many lesbians, and bisexuals use alcohol or drugs to cope.
Homophobia in our society has limited the possibilities for gays or lesbians to meet each other harmlessly. The gay bar culture began as a place to find other gays and lesbians without fear of embarrassment. The gay bar is a seductive institution. It is the most accessible place where people can explore being gay and as well socialize. There is also no alternative alcohol-free places as well as occasions to socialize within the gay community. This only increases the implied connection between drinking and socializing in lesbian and gay social circles.
For those gay addicts and gay alcoholics looking for drug rehab or alcohol rehab, there are gay alcohol rehabs, gay drug rehabs, or drug rehabs with gay addiction therapy components where a gay and lesbian can expect to receive addiction treatment in a safe, gay-friendly environment.
More gays and lesbians have considered suicide an option than heterosexuals. Lesbian and gay youth are 2 to 6 times more likely to attempt suicide than other youth and may account for 30% of all completed suicides among teens, although they account for only about 10% of teens. This in conjunction with a high incidence of drug use and alcohol abuse, would lead one to believe that dual diagnosis in the gay community is higher than that of the heterosexual community.