Substance Use In The LGBT Community
The secret is out! Substance use and addiction amongst the LGBT community is officially a thing.
Well actually, it’s not really a secret and its always been a thing. If you’ve used dating apps like Grindr and Jack’d, there’s a possibility that you’ve encountered conversations or seen bios that included acronyms like PNP ( Party and Play), 420 (Smoking Marijuana), and anything that involved the capital letter “T” ( Which stands for Tina). You might have judged these group of people for their choices of drugs, and you might have even hit the block button in disgust.
Nothing But Facts
As reported from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 39% of adults who identified as LGBT admitted to having used an illegal drug in the past year, while only 17% of heterosexual adults have admitted to having used an illegal drug. This means that as an individual of the LGBT community you are twice as likely to use illegal substances than a heterosexual.
Men who have same-sex relationships are 12 times more likely to consume amphetamines and 9.5 times more likely to use heroin as compared to men who don’t have same-sex relationships.
The numbers speak for themselves– drug usage must be encoded in my gay DNA right But don’t worry, you were encoded with many things, drugs isn’t one.
It’s Friday and Sonny has had a long stressful week of nagging supervisors, backstabbing coworkers, and b*tchy customers. On top of that, earlier in the week, someone on the train called him a f*ggot and his mother and father refuses to speak to him because of his so-called “gay choices”.
It’s happy hour–Sonny and his friends hit the bar to celebrate the hard-fought week. The sexy n’ shirtless bartender mixes up a well deserved Long Island Iced Tea that Sonny has been craving for.
Four drinks in and soon the thoughts of Sonny’s shitty week has been temporarily erased.
This is a typical Friday night for Sonny. Who doesn’t deserve a night of shots after a week full of discriminating statements being forced into your ears?
The bartender gives his last calls for drinks and the crowd slowly transitions from the dance floor to the exit sign. Sonny says his farewells to his friends and leaves as well. He trips and stumbles his way toward the train station to go home where the real parTy begins.
Sonny gets home and swipes everything of his kitchen table and bursts into tears. He has no one to turn to and his only source of happiness lies in his cupboard. Full of anger and sorrow, Sonny races to his cabinet where the gateway of painlessness awaits him. Inside his cabinet are his syringe needles, small bags of crystal meth, and a glass pipe.
Sonny is an IDU (Injection Drug User). He uses Crystal Meth to escape from the trauma and social prejudice he faces every day as a gay man. Imagine living in a society full of stigma, discrimination toward your race and sexual orientation, while also being rejected based on your economic well being? This type of stress often leads to higher levels of anxiety, fear, isolation, anger, and depression(Ways to cope with depression) which can increase the risk of illicit drug use. Of course, there are individuals who use illicit drugs like Crystal Meth for recreational use. However, gay men are overpopulated in Crystal Meth usage as compared to other users.
Crystal Meth is an extremely addictive drug that speeds up and enhances the lives of its users. It’s a blueprint to a fantasy world that we don’t have to worry about the realities we face as a marginalized community.
How do we stop this?
Remember that people aren’t consuming drugs just to kill time. Drugs are usually a coping mechanism to help battle the triggers in our lives.
Lead with empathy and compassion– put yourself in that person’s shoes. Ask yourself “what’s the real problem?”, ” What are some of the stressors in my life that cause me to retreat to a drug?”. Remember individuals like Sonny who appear to be fine on the outside, but are internally destroyed due to what society is constantly reminding them of what they should be.