What You Need to Know About the LGBTQ Community and Substance Abuse

The Problem:

The teen years are a time when our youth discover who they are, try new things, and form strong relationships with their peers.  This can be an especially risky time for members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) community.  Studies show that members of this community experience higher rates of substance use and abuse when compared to youth that are not LGBTQ.  According to DrugFree.org, these higher rates of substance use and abuse can be attributed to the following factors:

  • Social Stigma- experienced through school harassment and victimization
  • Family and peer rejections
  • Discrimination in social institutions
  • Minority stress- higher levels of stress related to negative social pressure and rejection

Why You Should Care:

DrugFree.org also reported that individuals in the LGBTQ community who experienced high levels of rejection from their family and peers were:

  • 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide
  • 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression
  • 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and
  • 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse

How You Can Help:

The good news is you can help! Family acceptance helps in the following ways:

  • Protects against depression, suicidal behavior, and substance abuse
  • Promotes self-esteem, social support, and overall health

To help even more, continue to educate yourself and be supportive of our LGBTQ youth.  For more information and the full article, please click here.