People who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender) have much higher rates of substance abuse, according to this article. The author, Jerome Hunt, cited a study which found that 20% to 30% of those who consider themselves LGBT reported substance abuse. This is in comparison to 9% of the general population. According to the article, up to 25% of gay and transgender people abuse alcohol compared to up to 10% of the general population. The study found that homosexual men were 12 times more likely to use amphetamines, three and a half times more likely to use cannabis, and nine times more likely to use heroin than men who are heterosexual.
There are many factors which may lead someone to start abusing drugs or alcohol. Many LGBT people face discrimination from family, friends, and others. They also face diminished job prospects due to employment discrimination, their relationships not being recognized, discrimination in housing, minority stress, and even discrimination when seeking healthcare. Any of these factors could cause someone to start abusing drugs or alcohol. People who identify as LGBT have different life experiences and they also have different motivations for using drugs or alcohol. Feeling uncomfortable or unaccepted in your own skin is a huge challenge. Having your family or friends dismiss you because of your sexual orientation can be very traumatic.
While the rate of substance abuse is high, there is hope for change. More people are changing their attitudes and thoughts about LGBT people. There are also more organizations and groups that are working towards a better life for those who identify as LGBT. Access to better healthcare and substance abuse treatment will also help end the cycle of abuse and dependence for those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.