Alcohol Addiction in the LGBT Community

Alcohol Addiction in the LGBT CommunityThe lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people can be filled with stresses, both external and internal. Their personal sexual identity can be hard to come to terms with, and acceptance from those around them can be difficult to obtain. They often turn to alcohol for help. When LGBT people seek treatment for alcohol addiction, long-term solutions must address the problems of identity that contributed to the addiction.

Internal Conflicts

The process of sorting out questions of identity can take years to work out. Some of the internal stresses that underlie alcohol addiction among LGBT individuals can include the following:

  • Hiding from the sexual feelings: LGBT people may drink to dull sexual thoughts that indicate an identity they don’t want to accept.
  • Experiencing depression: Emotional conflicts can tip off clinical depression or other mood disorders.
  • Feeling self-loathing: When unable to accept themselves, people risk hating themselves.
  • Trying to be straight: Simple denial of sexual feelings can lead to active attempts to act out a heterosexual life. People may drink to reduce inhibition and make it easier to portray a straight persona.

Individuals may use alcohol to try to dodge personal questions or hide from the answers.

External Stress

In general, society has become much more accepting of LGBT people than it has been in the recent past. Social issues, such as protecting the rights of homosexuals and even promoting same-sex marriage, have increasingly been resolved in favor of the LGBT side.

However, it would be a mistake to believe that all LGBT individuals enjoy complete acceptance from everyone they encounter. Honesty about sexual orientation still draws criticism or even rejection from some. Tolerance and acceptance of LGBT people in the wider culture offers limited consolation for LGBT people who are subject to suspicion or rejection from the specific people most important in their own lives.

Alcohol’s Central Role

Even seeking out the supportive company of other LGBT people carries liabilities for sobriety. Bars oriented toward gays and lesbians are often the hubs of activity for local LGBT communities. This colocation of peer support and alcohol can be a problem for any LGBT person trying to avoid or recover from alcohol addiction.

Confidence for Recovery

If an LGBT person has been using alcohol to quiet an internal conflict with his or her own sexual identity, the work of recovery must include examining those tensions and learning positive and sustainable ways to relate to sexual identity. Some of the simple affirmations that need to be accepted include the following:

  • “I am normal.”
  • “I deserve love.”
  • “I can be myself.”

Developing self-acceptance and confidence helps to diminish the need for self-medication with alcohol.

Identify with Recovery

If you or a friend is struggling with alcohol addiction, call our 24 hour helpline to learn more about treatment programs geared toward the needs of LGBT individuals. The call to speak with our counselors is toll free and completely confidential. Call now.