Studies have found that 35% of lesbians had a history of excessive drinking, compared to only 5% of the heterosexual women in the sample (Saghir, 1970; Lewis, 1982). Approximately 30% of lesbians and gay men are addicted to drugs (Rofes, 1983). The facts show that the homosexual community constitutes a high-risk population with regard to alcoholism, drug addiction and dual diagnosis.
Why is drug addiction and alcohol addiction such a problem?It is important not to assume that homosexuality causes gay drug rehabor gay alcohol addiction. When gays, lesbians and bisexuals internalize society's homophobic attitudes and beliefs, the results can be devastating. Society's hatred becomes self-hatred. As a minority group; gays, lesbians and bisexuals are victims of systemic and ongoing oppression. It can lead to feelings of alienation, despair, low self-esteem, self-destructive behaviour, and drug addiction (Nicoloff & Stiglitz, 1987). Some gays, lesbians and bisexuals resort to drug abuse or alcohol abuse as a means to numb the feelings of being different, to relieve emotional pain or to reduce inhibitions about their sexual feelings. Drug abuse or alcohol abuse often begins in early adolescence when youth first begin to struggle with their sexual orientation. When surrounded by messages telling you are wrong and sick for who you are, eventually you begin to believe it. Having to hide your identity and deal with homophobic comments and attitudes- often made by unknowing friends and family -- can have a profound effect on you. Lesbians and gay men are also 7 times more likely to be the victims of crimes than the average citizen (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 1984). In response to this overwhelming oppression and homophobia, many lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals use alcohol and drugs to cope.
Homophobia in our society has limited the opportunities for gays and lesbians to meet each other safely. The gay bar culture emerged as a place to find other gays and lesbians without fear of harassment. The gay bar is a seductive institution. It is the most available place where people can explore being gay and socialize. There is also a lack of alternative alcohol-free places and occasions to socialize within the gay community. This only intensifies the implied connection between drinking and socializing in gay and lesbian social circles.
For those gay addicts or gay alcoholics seeking drug rehab or alcohol rehab, there are gay drug rehabs, gay alcohol rehabs or drug rehabs with gay addiction treatment components where a gay or lesbian can expect to receive addiction treatment in a safe, gay friendly environment.
More gays and lesbians have considered suicide an option than heterosexuals (Bell & Weinberg, 1978). Lesbian and gay youth are 2 to 6 times more likely to attempt suicide than other youth, and may account for 30% of all completed suicides among teens, although they account for only about 10% of teens (Cook, 1991). This in conjunction with a high incidence of drug use and alcohol abuse, would lead one to believe that dual diagnosis in the gay community is higher than that of the heterosexual community. If you are looking for alcohol rehab or a gay friendly addiction treatment program, you can call Recovery Connection, a national referral helpline, at 1-800-511-9225.
Jonathan Huttner is a principal of Lakeview Health Systems, a drug rehab specializing in addiction treatment, with a gay friendly drug rehab for the gay community...[http://www.lakeviewfreedomrings.com]