Addiction causes, resources and treatments for people from LGBTQ+ communities

Issues with addiction have long been recognised as far greater within LGBTQ+ communities, and Serenity Health are specialists in providing the supportive drug and alcohol rehab treatment and understanding that are essential for a sustained recovery. A Serenity Health spokesperson comments: “People within the LGBTQ+ community are up to four times more likely to suffer problems with addiction to drugs or alcohol. In part, one of the main causes can be due to their ongoing struggles against discrimination, internalised homophobia and inner battles to accept their own gender identity or sexuality”.

Additional health problems faced by the LGBTQ+ community

In addition to problems with addiction, people within the LGBTQ+ community are also far more likely to experience mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and mood disorders. Other serious health challenges faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community include hepatitis and HIV, with gay or bisexual men being most at risk due to greater use of recreational drugs and sharing of needles.

Finding help

The promising factor for the addiction LGBTQ+ community in the midst of all this depressing health information, is that it’s often the case people experiencing issues with addiction are more willing to seek help than members of the general population. Here in the UK, there are a wealth of medical and counselling resources available.

Most healthcare authorities in mainland Britain provide support that’s specific to the LGBTQ+ community, although this is not currently the case in Northern Ireland. Although these services are not always run directly by the NHS, they do generally receive NHS funding, and staff have the empathy and expertise required to support LGTBQ+ people.

Many members of the LGBTQ+ community face ongoing issues with discrimination and stigma, so can find it difficult to seek the support they require for addiction or mental health problems. However, the existence of support that is specific to their needs can make all the difference.


Sourcing a treatment programme that’s specific to LGBTQ+ people can make all the difference when it comes down to successful recovery. Therapists need to offer the understanding of the different lifestyles and life experiences of members of LGBTQ+ communities in order to provide the successful treatments required. And, it’s important that treatment programmes are tailored to meet individual needs, as there’s no one size fits all approach within the treatment of addiction or mental health issues for LGBTQ+ people.

It’s highly likely that most members of LGBTQ+ communities will have some experience of discrimination and this means therapists need to be extremely sensitive and respectful of their need for high self esteem and feelings of being valued.

Very often, recovery communities offer the safe, welcoming group environments that can be therapeutic for LGBTQ+ people recovering from issues with substance abuse.

It’s often the case that the severity of addiction issues relates to the length of time the person has been abusing substances and the type of substances used. Addiction is a disease and a very real medical condition, offering a variety of treatment challenges that need to be overcome. One of the most important hurdles in the first instance is getting the person to admit their addiction to themselves and other people. This way, they can move towards making plans for the changes they need to make in order to conquer addictions.

It’s vital that anybody planning to deal with addiction issues makes a plan for addiction treatment and recovery. This helps inform the entire process and will enable family members and friends to get on board with all essential support.

It’s possible to seek treatment for addiction as an inpatient or drug or alcohol home detox outpatient, so it’s important to research all available options prior to making any firm decisions. Finding a provider with experience in treating members of the LGBTQ+ is also important, as therapists and clinicians will have far more expertise and knowledge of any potential issues which may arise throughout drug or alcohol treatment.

Once treatment is complete, ensuring a supportive network of friends and family members is also critical to achieving successful recovery. Many people in recovery discover that adding purpose to their lives, by way of jobs, voluntary work or attending social groups and activities like yoga classes can make all the difference. Achieving lifelong recovery can be challenging at times, which is why it’s important to plan ahead so any relapse issues can also be handled at the time they occur.

As already mentioned, addiction and mental health issues are more common in LGBTQ+ communities than in straight communities, with between 20% and 30% of people experiencing alcohol or drug addiction at some time in their lives. This compares to a total of less than 9% of drug or alcohol addicts within the general population, so is extremely concerning for healthcare professionals. A spokesperson from Serenity Health said: “Focusing on wellbeing and emotional health is important for everybody but even more critical for people within the LGBTQ+ community.”


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