Discrimination, Instability, and Addiction

The Struggles Faced by LGBTQ+ Individuals

by Donna Marston, CRSW

LGBTQ+ Community stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and more. The LGBTQ+ community uses these words to describe who they are and how they love each other.

The word Queer is like a colorful umbrella. It covers all the different ways people identify themselves and all the ways they care about each other. LGBTQ+ is a celebration of uniqueness!

Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it's a good place to start.
Jason Collins
made history in 2014 by becoming the first male professional athlete to publicly identify himself as gay.

Imagine feeling really stressed or sad because of other people’s opinions and judgements of you. When people are feeling those emotions sometimes they turn to things like alcohol or drugs (prescribed medications or street drugs) to feel better. When people self-medicate, it’s like trying to fix a broken wooden toy with a piece of tape, it might work for a little bit, but it’s not the best solution. Because of all the challenges the LGBTQ+ Communities face, they may end up using substances to cope, and anyone who has been impacted by addiction knows that, that isn’t a good path for anyone to take.

Addiction is a complicated problem that impacts individuals from various backgrounds, it’s like a big maze with twists and turns, that people can get lost in. Some people face even more twists in this maze because they identify as LGBTQ+. Over the years research has shown that the LGBTQ+ community experiences higher rates of substance use and abuse compared to the general population. They also face unique challenges related to their substance use disorder due to discrimination, for example:

 * Healthcare – sexual direction or gender identity prevents many LGBTQ+ individuals from seeking healthcare services.

*  Homelessness – finding safe and affordable housing can be challenging.  Discrimination in housing markets often leaves them with limited options that can lead to instability.

Work environment – they could be harassed by co-workers, they may receive unequal pay or lose their job because of how they sexually identify. 

Barriers and Discrimination create a greater risk of harassment and violence for individuals from the LGBTQ+ communities which can drive a person to use drugs and or alcohol.  Some LGBTQ+ folks face discrimination because of who they are. Imagine someone saying mean things or treating you unfairly just because you’re different?

There will not be a magic day when we wake up and it’s now okay to express ourselves publicly. We make that day by doing things publicly until it’s simply the way things are.So, what’s the solution?
    1. Have more doctors who understand and accept everyone, no matter who they love or how they look.
    2. Have more housing options where everyone feels welcome.
    3. Have more workplaces where everyone is treated fairly.
    4. Have safe environments where LGBTQ+ individuals feel accepted and understood.
    5. Have more options for people to connect with others who share similar experiences.
Have more treatment options available
Tammy Baldwin
In 2013 she made history by becoming the first openly gay Senator in the United States.
There will not be a magic day when we wake up and it’s now okay to express ourselves publicly. We make that day by doing things publicly until it’s simply the way things are.So, what’s the solution?
    1. Have more doctors who understand and accept everyone, no matter who they love or how they look.
    2. Have more housing options where everyone feels welcome.
    3. Have more workplaces where everyone is treated fairly.
    4. Have safe environments where LGBTQ+ individuals feel accepted and understood.
    5. Have more options for people to connect with others who share similar experiences.
Have more treatment options available
Tammy Baldwin
In 2013 she made history by becoming the first openly gay Senator in the United States.

So, what’s the solution?

    1. Have more doctors who understand and accept everyone, no matter who they love or how they look.
    2. Have more housing options where everyone feels welcome.
    3. Have more workplaces where everyone is treated fairly.
    4. Have safe environments where LGBTQ+ individuals feel accepted and understood.
    5. Have more options for people to connect with others who share similar experiences.
    6. Have more treatment options available
This month let’s remember to reflect on all those who came before us to make it possible for us to be our authentic selves. As we continue to face challenges and adversity, we remember we are strong when we show pride.
Priscilla M.
Revive Recovery Center, Nashua, NH

Addiction impacts the LGBTQ+ community disproportionately due to discrimination, social isolation, and co-occurring mental health conditions. By recognizing these challenges and providing tailored treatment, as a society we can improve outcomes and support the well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals on their journey to recovery. With understanding, acceptance, and support, we can help everyone find their way to a healthier, happier life.  Remember, everyone deserves kindness and respect, no matter who they are or who they love!

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