The disease of addiction does not discriminate. It can prove to be a debilitating disorder for any person, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. However, for those individuals identifying within the LGBTQ community, dealing with the weight of a substance use disorder can prove to be even more difficult to process.

While their struggles can be attributed to a number of identifiable reasons, taking the time to better understand your loved one – and the individual experiences impacting their substance addiction – can play an intricate role in helping them face their substance use disorder and begin their road to recovery.

LGBTQ Substance Abuse Statistics

Within our society, it is no secret that substance use and substance addiction has grown to epidemic proportions.

A recent study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, reported that 18.7 million people age 18 and over had a substance use disorder within the United States.1

While the sheer number of individuals dealing with a substance use disorder seems staggering, the manner in which substance addiction impacts the LGBTQ community is even more concerning.

Some of the more noticeable statistics include:

  • People who identify as gay or lesbian are more than twice as likely as those who identify as heterosexual to have a severe alcohol use disorder.
  • Those who are unsure how to identify their sexual identity are five times as likely to have a substance use disorder than heterosexual people.
  • People who identify as bisexual are three times as likely to have a substance use disorder.
  • Transgender students were about two and a half times more likely to use drugs, like methamphetamines and cocaine, than their cisgender peers.3

These concerning statistics highlight how substance addiction impacts the LGBTQ community. They reinforce the need your loved one has for your emotional support and encouragement when facing the disease of addiction.

LGBTQ Substance Abuse: Other Important Facts and Insights

Understanding that addiction as a whole impacts the LGBTQ community at a higher rate is important, but breaking down the types of substances used provides greater insight into the struggles that your loved one may be facing.

Some of the more problematic substances among the LGBTQ community include:

  • Amphetamines
    Members of the LGBTQ community are over twelve times more likely to struggle with amphetamine use.
  • Heroin
    Members of the LGBTQ community are nine and a half times more likely to use heroin than heterosexual individual.
  • Alcohol
    20 to 25 percent of the LGBTQ community have a moderate to severe alcohol dependency.2

These facts further work to identify the struggles that your loved one may be facing with addiction and the importance of engaging them in conversation to identify their addiction before it becomes catastrophic.

But why are substance use rates so much higher in the LGBTQ community?

Some of the identified factors impacting this concerning trend include:

  • Limited treatment services for LGBTQ individuals – A national study found that of the 854 treatment programs that reported to have specialized treatment services for LGBTQ people, only 62 confirmed these services actually existed during a telephone follow-up. This means that about 70 percent of the addiction treatment services noted as specialized for LGBTQ people were really no different from those provided to non-LGBTQ people.5
  • Increased stress among those living within the LGBTQ community – While we have made great strides in gay rights over the last 20 years, many LGBTQ individuals still have endured a long, personal history of social prejudice. This can include discriminatory laws and practices in employment, housing, relationship recognition and health care, as well as stigma and challenges with their family and friends. This type of stress can lead to higher levels of anxiety, fear, isolation, depression, anger and mistrust, which can increase the risk of self-medicating with tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.4

Factors such as these directly impact the higher rates of substance addiction within the LGBTQ community and reinforce the necessity for greater understanding and support from the loved ones within their lives.

LGBTQ Substance Abuse Treatment: There Are Life-Changing Treatment Options that Can Help Your Loved One Achieve Sustained Sobriety

Being there for your loved one to support them through their trials and tribulations is no small feat. It requires patience and kindness to empathize with their experienced hardships and work with them to overcome their addiction.

One of the most important things you can do to help a loved one address their substance use disorder is work with them to find a facility that is capable of working with them – personally and professionally – to provide them culturally competent and qualified therapeutic services.

This ensures that they can safely and confidently assimilate into treatment and focus solely on overcoming their addiction.

Holistic LGBTQ Substance Abuse Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery

We understand you are your loved one’s biggest advocate, and we know how imperative it is for you to help your loved one get clean and stay sober.

If they are ready to get help, or you are seeking insights from addiction recovery experts, Ranch Creek Recovery can help. We are a renowned drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility that is set in a serene and tranquil area in Murrieta, CA. At Ranch Creek, your loved one will enter into a healing environment that’s free of judgement and distractions and supported by an expert team.

Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today.

CALL NOW: (877) 293-8607


1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The National Survey on Drug Use and
Health: 2017. Accessed November 16, 2019.

2 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexual Orientation and Health Among U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2013. Accessed November 16, 2019.

3 California Survey System. School Climate, Substance Use, and Well-being Among California Students 2013-2015. Accessed November 16, 2019.

4 American Psychological Association. The minority stress perspective. Accessed November 16, 2019.

5 National Center for Biotechnology Information. Do specialized services exist for LGBT individuals seeking treatment for substance misuse? A study of available treatment programs. Accessed November 16, 2019.