Higher addiction rates among LGBTQ+ individuals may be traced to personal struggles and societal stigmas.

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Addiction in the LGBTQ+ Community

Everywhere around the globe, June is recognized as Pride Month – a celebration of increased visibility, self-acceptance, dignity, and equality for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. But for many who identify as LGBTQ+, their journey in life is frequently filled with the opposite:  shame, self-hatred, discrimination, and even violence.  In 2017 the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that adults identifying as gay or lesbian are more than twice as likely to have a substance abuse disorder than someone who identifies as heterosexual. This number increases to three times as likely in those who identify as bisexual and again increases again to five times as likely in those unsure of their sexuality.1 Moreover an additional study found substance use in LGBTQ+ adolescents to be nearly two-fold higher than heterosexual adolescents.2

Increased addiction rates among LGBTQ+ individuals may be traced back to a need to escape reality or numb the pain of daily homophobia seen at school, social settings, family gatherings, work or even at home. The majority of LGBTQ+ people also speaks about their own personal struggles from confusion, oppression and shame to self-acceptance and pride. Substance abuse becomes a way to mollify insensitive feelings and hurtful reactions for those yet to reach confidence and self-satisfaction.

Among many gay individuals, the lifestyle itself inadvertently accelerates the use of addictive substances.  Gay bars and queer nightlife are frequently a more secure way for queer people to meet, socialize and escape reality, welcoming those who feel unsafe or uncomfortable in predominantly heterosexual spaces. Gay bars provide environments for LGBTQ+ people to be themselves, which may not be available in other public spaces. However, as the gay bars are frequented by regulars, alcohol reliance and addiction may increase, possibly contributing to the development of a substance use disorder. Today, sober bars for the LGBTQ+ community are starting to provide access to socialization without the inducement of alcohol.

Wellbridge understands that successful treatment of addiction needs to be tailored specifically for each person, especially those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, which is why Wellbridge offers personalized treatment programs. A few of the therapies offered at Wellbridge, that have been found to be effective with LGBTQ+ people include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and group therapy.3 This Pride Month, and every month, Wellbridge is committed to helping the LGBTQ+ community on their journey to discover sustainable recovery. Contact us today if you or someone you know is ready for recovery.


  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-SexualOrientation-2015/NSDUH-SexualOrientation-2015/NSDUH-SexualOrientation-2015.htm
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18339100/
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/substance-use-suds-in-lgbtq-populations