The LGBTQIA+ community continues to make major contributions to all aspects of American society. It has a rich legacy and a bright future, and millions of Americans are proud to consider themselves members. However, there is no question that, like other communities, it faces its own unique health challenges. One of those is alcohol dependence.
This blog will examine factors influencing the prevalence of alcohol dependence in the LGBTQIA+ community. It will also include resources for support. Lantana Recovery is proud to have a variety of LGBTQIA+ staff members who are experienced in addressing alcohol dependence.
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community have faced a long history of discrimination and bigotry in the United States. However, the community has persevered and won hard-fought battles for equality. Despite this, the fear of being treated differently because of who an LGBTQIA+ person loves continues to remain a reality. This is an added stressor that a member of the community must cope with regularly – both in subtle and direct ways.
Alcohol dependence is a way to self-medicate the fear and anxiety of not “fitting in.” It is also a way to ease the sting of facing the reality of discrimination in everything from employment to healthcare to relationship recognition. The “Don’t Say Gay” legislation championed by presidential contender Ron Desantis is an example of how sexual orientation is still a wedge issue in national politics. In 2021, there were over 1,000 hate crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation.
Bars and clubs have been traditional areas where members of the LGBTQIA+ community can socialize safely without stigma. Unfortunately, these are also environments that can encourage and normalize heavy drinking. The culture of social drinking in the LGBTQIA+ community has the potential to trigger alcohol dependence, particularly in those with a genetic predisposition.
Lack of Support
American society was built on a heteronormative structure. A fundamental human need that those in a social minority struggle with is the need to feel safe and accepted in a community. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community have traditionally been unable to find refuge in many institutions that form the bedrock of our nation. This is true of faith communities where LGBTQIA+ marriage is often not recognized, and LGBTQIA+ attraction is considered immoral.
Families may also disown LGBTQIA+ members, forcing them to become independent before they are ready or otherwise isolating them from an important type of social support. At school, teachers may turn a blind eye to those who bully members of the LGBTQIA+, and school resources may not be properly equipped to cope with students who are struggling with their sexual identity. Harassment may persist into adulthood, where community members may be bullied at work or when they attend public social events with a same-sex partner.
An Internal Struggle
The combined impacts of what social scientists call “minority stress” can manifest through poor self-image among members of a marginalized community. In the LGBTQIA+ community, this is sometimes referred to as “internalized homophobia.”
Simply put, we are taught from a young age that straight love is “normal.” After many years of social reinforcement, an LGBTQIA+ person’s subconscious may begin to believe that there is something abnormal about their attractions. This adds another layer of struggle. Not only is the LGBTQIA+ individual facing adversity in society but also within the very fiber of their being.
Overcoming Alcohol Dependence
With hard work, alcohol dependence among members of the LGBTQIA+ community can be overcome. A study by Substance Use & Misuse found that substance abuse treatment with a specialized LGBTQIA+ component had higher rates of success among members of the community than those who participated in traditional rehab programs. Lantana Recovery is committed to working with members of the LGBTQIA+ community to meet their unique needs.
The LGBTQIA+ community is diverse, and many of the issues community members face will not be entirely distinct. However, the stress of being in a historically discriminated-against minority group cannot be overlooked. Lantana Recovery’s compassionate team is proud to have a variety of members of the LGBTQIA+ community on staff.
Recovery from Alcohol Dependence
Lantana Recovery offers a welcoming environment where members of the LGBTQIA+ community can find camaraderie, friendship, and support. Through our open approach, Lantana Recovery allows clients to experience normal societal pressures as they go through the recovery process. This occurs under the watchful eye of clinical staff. In this way, clients can be truly ready to experience both the highs of acceptance. They can also be ready to face the lows of adversity as they reintegrate back into the community.
Resources for Those Struggling With Alcohol Dependence
There are many resources available for those struggling with alcohol dependence, including the following:
- Gay and Sober: Gay and Sober is a fellowship that provides sober programming, regular meetings, and other resources. It began as a private Facebook group and has blossomed into a worldwide organization.
- The Trevor Project: An organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide among LGBTQIA+ youth. It offers a hotline and text line for those in crisis.
- LGBTQ Alcoholics in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): An official publication by AA that includes thirteen different reflections on the process of recovery by members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
- The LGBT National Help Center: A confidential hotline, chat, and text service dedicated to supporting members of the LGBTIQIA+ community.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): An organization with chapters throughout the United States dedicated to helping individuals and families struggling with mental illness and its impact.
Lantana Recovery knows that the LGBTQIA+ community is diverse and exciting to be a part of. Like any group, it has its challenges, one of which is alcohol dependence. The prevalence of alcohol dependence in the LGBTQIA+ community is driven by a variety of factors. These include discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, and relationship recognition. They also include a culture that has had to turn to bars and clubs as safe spaces for socialization. Lantana Recovery is proud to employ numerous LGBTQIA+ staff and offers an affirming environment for members of the community to cope with the unique factors that influence their desire to use. Call Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870 to learn more.