Substance Abuse in the LGBTQ+ Community

Members of the LGBTQ+ community face a whole host of issues many people never contemplate throughout their lives. From the early struggle of coming to terms with your own sexuality to being met with judgment and hate by neighbors and even family who cannot accept you for who you are. Many fear living as an “out” member of the LGBTQ+ community well into their adult lives, either due to bigoted family members or a work environment that is not supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals. This contempt and disgust is often internalized and translated into a deep sense of shame. Drugs and alcohol present themselves as a quick and easy remedy for these negative emotions, which may explain why substance abuse disorders within the LGBTQ+ community occur at a significantly higher rate than in the population of the U.S. as a whole. What factors are contributing to this alarming rate of addiction in this already vulnerable community?

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I can attest to the constant anxiety surrounding my sexuality in my adolescence and teenage years. I did not feel comfortable declaring myself a gay man at that time, and instead did my best to hide this fact from others. The act of putting on a mask to the world every waking moment is mentally exhausting. Add in the constant fear of being “outed” and you’ve created a perfect set of circumstances for substance abuse to take hold. Throughout my high school career, I turned to drugs and alcohol as a means to relax and feel at ease among my peers. This story is repeated in school all across America, both for closeted members of the LGBTQ+ community and those who felt comfortable declaring their sexuality while still in primary school. We use drugs and alcohol so that we can feel more comfortable in our own skin and feel more a part of our school community.

This substance abuse does not cease once we leave high school and are able to surround ourselves with other LGBTQ+ individuals. Social drinking and drug use is already an established part of our lives, and we carry these behaviors over into our social activities with other members of our community. Often this is when we transition to harder drugs as we explore some of the darker sides of the club scene now that we feel safe among like-minded people. Hard drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine are rampant in the LGBTQ+ community as they heighten sensations and lower inhibitions, encouraging exploration of one’s sexuality. These drugs are highly addictive, and even casual weekend use can easily lead you two physical dependency and the development of dangerous behaviors to support your habit.

The LGBTQ+ community have a plethora of issues with which to contend. We struggle to accept who we are and who we love, and can face backlash from friends, neighbors, and even family when we finally have the courage to declare who we are. While drugs and alcohol are a tempting solution to the anxiety we feel due to our sexuality, you should not fall into this trap! Drugs and alcohol merely cover up those emotions, they do not alleviate them, and the resulting dependency on substances fosters a whole other set of problems in your life that you do not want or need. It is not easy living as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, whether you are out and proud or still grappling with the idea of disclosing your sexuality publicly. If you find yourself struggling with substance abuse, Evolutions Treatment Center can help! We provide a compassionate, accepting environment in which you can address your substance abuse disorder as well as safely discuss your sexuality. Call our Admissions Counselors today at 833-818-3031 and take the first step towards recovery.


Evolutions is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center located in beautiful South Florida. Our holistic approach to addiction treatment centers around addressing and healing the underlying issues at the root of addiction, rather than merely medicating symptoms away.

Our treatment program includes individual and group-based therapy to help clients understand and manage their symptoms and emotions.

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, alcoholism, or any co-occurring disorders please call us at (833) 818-3031 or