Why are drug and alcohol problems high amongst LGBTI?

Why do gay people have a higher rate of things such as alcohol and drug problems? Is it due to increased pressures around their sexuality or it simply an excuse? 

There are a lot of studies out there on the subject with varying degrees of results however in every case there is an obvious increase in these problems with those who are gay. Now there are always multiple sides to opinion and if you were to talk to someone who works directly with LGBTI you will probably hear statements like:

"feelings of “rejection” and “fear” as well as “shame around sex” could be factors leading to substance abuse."

Now I totally agree that these can be factors and I certainly feel that there are and always have been a lot of LGBTI people who have suffered through a lot in order to be themselves. Yes in some ways it’s getting easier in some places but there is still a struggle. However I do find these claims or excuses a little sad. It appears personal responsibility has vanished. 

The use of illegal drugs in one study showed LGBTI individuals were seven times more likely to use illegal drugs regularly. To put it simply on average 5% of people generally surveyed say they use illegal drugs regularly. When your study focus on LGBTI it increases to 35%. This is seen in many studies. Alcohol abuse is often shown to be three times more likely amongst LGBTI. 

Now I could sit here and try and spell out all the stats on these things but I think if I did that I would end up with a paper rather than a post lol. However although I have directly seen some of these problems within the LGBTI group I more often than not see another side. A side where substance abuse is considered acceptable and ‘normal’. When I talk to people and this isn’t just the young but people from 18 to 40, it’s seen as a socially acceptable existence. I get told that this lifestyle is and I quote “what everyone does”. However I will say that in my own conversations there seems to be a few patterns. 

If I’m talking to people who started this behaviour at a young age, it is much more prevalent. It appears that yes it is seen as normal, probably because it’s the only thing many see when growing up. What I mean is when you are growing up, the only gay people you see are generally those that are out clubbing, drinking and generally partying. So I can somewhat understand that this could be perceived as the norm. Also if you talk to those that grew up in this lifestyle, they do seem to have a warped view that the scene is where all gay people are. So no alternative view is given as an example. When I have quotes general statistics to those on the scene that based on some research only about 10% of gay people are in the scene they freak out and don’t believe a word. The other thing that is disturbing is that almost everyone I spoke to believes that because they only binge drink maybe once or twice a week or month that that automatically means they are not alcoholics because an alcoholic drinks everyday. The rates of liver disease in the young has doubled in the last decade. Maybe thats a statistic worth remembering. 

I certainly see an array of factors that contribute to high rates of abuse in the group but more often than not it appears that it has become part of culture and that is dangerous. Hopefully as the LGBTI group becomes more accepted, equality improves and more parents become more accepting as their children come out the culture will change. What is lacking is good role models of all ages. Not just famous role models but also friends and family who are LGBTI being able to live openly from a young age. If as we grow up we can see the full spectrum of LGBTI around us with it not being a big deal then we will have more of a chance to grow up seeing that we can be whoever we choose. I really believe that good role models or examples are the best way to influence. 

Stevie

brisbane