As the LGBTQIA+ population faces greater stigma, discrimination, harassment and violence, they bear a higher risk of behavioral health issues, including addiction or substance use disorders (SUD). Just so, members of these communities report significantly higher rates of illicit drug use.
The connection between LGBTQIA+ identities and substance use disorders has been substantiated by recent studies. One of the largest federally-funded surveys of its kind — the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) — collected data from sexual minority adults (defined there as individuals who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual), comparing patterns of substance use between this population and heterosexual adults.
Overall, the 2018 survey found that members of the LGBTQIA+ population are twice as likely to struggle with a SUD than their counterparts. Opioid use (including heroin) stood at 9% among sexual minorities, compared to 3.8% of the other. Many of these individuals who struggle with substance use disorders do so alongside other co-occurring conditions, such as depression, anxiety, compulsive sexual disorders, mood disorders, self-harm, and suicidality.
One obstacle to treatment is the lack of specialized inpatient drug and alcohol options addressed to the particular needs of the LGBTQIA+ population.
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