Gay Drug Abuse and Treatment
As widespread drug use is viewed by some as a normal part of the LGBT culture, this is one of the most heavily focused areas of research within the gay community. Theories for increased drug use among LGBT community members are varied. All members of the gay community must be aware that drug use comes with significant risk. As a result, prevention programs and intensive, specialized treatment targeted at this demographic are needed.
Reasons for Drug Use in the Gay Culture
A variety of reasons exist for drug use to remain high in the gay culture. While the choice to use drugs is individual, common reasons include:
- Repressed feelings. Generally, you may feel repressed in a society that does not understand or respect your lifestyle, relationships and choices. LGBT people encounter repression on a daily basis, and may use illicit drugs to counter feelings of isolation and sadness.
- Environment. Often, especially in rural communities, the only place you can interact freely with other gay individuals is at a club or bar. These facilities fuel alcohol and drug use.
- Sexual expectations. In certain communities, the expectation in gay culture is peak sexual prowess, which can be achieved through drugs such as Ecstasy or methamphetamine.
- Depression. Feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety and guilt often plague those who have confusion around their sexual identity, which can be masked through drug use. According to the CDC, gay youth have six times the depression rates of their heterosexual counterparts. They are also three times as likely to use illegal drugs.
- As the report Impact of Drugs on Different Minority Groups: A Review of the UK Literature suggests, people in the LGBT community may have focused community efforts on health issues such as STDs and HIV, rather than drug use prevention. This is rapidly changing, however, as drug addiction is becoming an increasing problem within the gay community.
*Treatment for Drug Abuse
If you decide that treatment in a top exclusive residential addiction treatment center for LGBT is the right choice for your drug use, certain addiction and recovery programs offer specific treatment options to members of the gay community. Specialized therapies can include:
- Counseling sessions specifically related to identity acceptance
- Assistance with coming out, if needed
- Treatment of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety
- Care from professionals specifically trained on LGBT issues
Risks of Drug Use in the Gay Community
All drug use comes with risks, including long-term addiction, emotional harm, physical effects and limited decision-making skills. For those in the gay community, these risks can be especially harmful, and can include:
- Less impulse control. In a culture that has a large presence in clubs and bars, those who frequent these facilities may show lower levels of control when faced with unsafe behaviors, such as unprotected sex or use of more intense drugs. Frequent unprotected sex increases the risk for STDs, including HIV and hepatitis, which are more easily transmitted through anal sex. Increased drug use with “harder” drugs furthers addiction and risky behaviors.
- Lack of services. According to the Best Practices report Standards for Culturally Responsive Services for Sexual and Gender Variant Clients and Communities: Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention Programs in California, LGBT community members are less likely to seek treatment for drug use. This is likely due to rehabilitation centers not having experience in treating members of the gay community and their specific issues, and general disinterest in the medical community to GLBT issues.
- Fewer support groups.As there is a general lack of services that cater to LGBT individuals, this trickles down to the support group level. There are support groups available to the gay community but they are much harder to find than traditional groups.
Drug use in gay culture is on the rise and developing access to qualified education programs, as well as addiction treatment and recovery facilities that address important LGBT issues, is crucial to addressing drug use and addiction within the community.