Pride Month: Substance Abuse in the LGBTQ+ Community

Pride Month: Substance Abuse in the LGBTQ+ Community

By In Substance Abuse
Posted June 4, 2021

June is Pride Month, a month to celebrate and recognize the LGBTQ+ community. June is also a month to have conversations about how we can become a better, more accepting society. The LGBTQ+ community has historically been faced with discrimination and rejection within American society and this have often led to serious consequences.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community are sometimes driven toward substance abuse to try to cope with the emotions that arise from such negativity. Recent studies reveal that LGBTQ+ adults are twice as likely to abuse illegal drugs than heterosexuals. This reality is paired with a lack of resources and treatment that often does not cater to the unique needs of the community. 

Substance Abuse in the Community

People who identify as LGBTQ+ often face struggles such as discrimination, rejection, hate crimes and homophobia. These hardships can contribute to increased rates of anxiety, depression, stress, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. A reported 39% of the LGBTQ+ community in the United States stated they are struggling with their mental health and 20%-30% are abusing substances (compared to 9% of the total population). Turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with internal struggles is catastrophic for one’s health and should be identified and treated as early as possible

To cope with or hide emotions, people tend to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. The combination of a mental illness and substance abuse requires expertise in dual-diagnosis and a treatment program that effectively acknowledges and treats both conditions for a successful path toward recovery.

Treatment for LGBTQ+

Many members of the LGBTQ+ community have had bad experiences in a medical setting due to social stigma and harassment. There is also a lack of LGBTQ+ representation in mental health counselors, leading people to feel misunderstood and hesitant to reach out to seek help. In addition to poor experiences, variables such as health insurance coverage and financial burdens can veer people away from accessing proper treatment.

It is important for a person to feel heard and valued throughout their treatment process. Additionally, it is essential to look at a person’s condition with a full perspective – identifying both mental illness and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis programs do just this as they provide counseling to identify triggers that lead to substance abuse as well as teach constructive ways to cope with mental health struggles.

 If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health and/or substance abuse struggles, call us today. Destination Hope is a leading drug and alcohol treatment center located in South Florida and serving the nation. We provide substance abuse and mental health treatment for both men and women with patient-focused programs.


  • Juergens, Jeffrey. “LGBTQ and Addiction – Addiction in LGBTQ CommunityJ.” Addiction Center, 24 Mar. 2021, 
  • “LGBTQ+ Communities and Mental Health.” Mental Health America, 
  • Ackermann, Kristina, and Michael Kaliszewski. “Why Substance Abuse Is Higher within the LGBTQ Community.” American Addiction Centers, 10 Sept. 2019,


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