Pride Month Marks the Need For Understanding LGBTQ+ Addiction Care

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Peace Valley Recovery is located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Our mission is to provide patient-centered care that focuses on healing and recovery from addiction. This blog provides information, news, and uplifting content to help people in their recovery journey.

Authored by Elliott Redwine, | Medically Reviewed by Peace Valley Recovery Editorial Staff,
Last Updated: March 5, 2023

Every June marks Pride Month, a time for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies to come together to celebrate the progress made and raise awareness for the problems that still exist. Public support and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals continue growing year after year.

Pride Month serves as a springboard for conversations about struggles the LGBTQ+ community still faces. It recognizes the important advancements made but also begs the question: what challenges do LGBTQ+ individuals still face? The bright, joyful festivities are overshadowed by the darker aspects that need to be addressed.

One of the most pressing issues is the disproportionate rates of alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and mental health issues. There’s an urgent need for understanding and compassionate care from treatment facilities that support the LGBTQ+ community. Pride Month is a great time to consider these ongoing needs and how facilities across the country can rise to meet them.

Substance Abuse in the
LGBTQ+ Community

Drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness do not discriminate. There is no one picture of what someone who struggles with substances or mental health “looks like.” These conditions can affect anyone no matter their gender, age, race, beliefs, employment, socioeconomic status, and more.

At the same time, certain sections of the population are more likely to develop mental health or substance problems than others. Individuals in the LGBTQ+ community are one of these groups. Statistics and research show that LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to abuse substances or develop mental illness than their allies.

Substance abuse rates are higher across the board for sexual minority groups compared to the general population. 9.6% of LGBTQ+ adults reported past-year opioid use, much higher than the past-year opioid use among 3.8% of all U.S. adults. 12.4% of adults in the LGBTQ+ community have an alcohol use disorder compared to 10.1% of all adults.

LGBTQ+ individuals also report higher rates of marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine use. Cocaine use among these individuals has been on the rise since 2016, an alarming trend to note. Methamphetamine use has risen dramatically over the last few years, too, with rates more than doubling compared to 2017.

Drug Detox in Pennsylvania

Along with higher rates of substance abuse, LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to have co-occurring psychiatric disorders. They report more frequent depression, anxiety, and general mental distress than the general population. So despite the progress made in the last decade, there’s still work to do when it comes to substance use and mental health.

What Causes High Rates
of Substance Abuse?

Why are LGBTQ+ individuals more likely to use substances and experience mental health struggles? Even though tolerance and acceptance are on the rise, there are still plenty of areas where people are less accepting. Pride Month is a helpful step but there is more ground to cover. What are some of the things that lead to higher rates of substance abuse for LGBTQ+ people?


The LGBTQ+ population is usually associated with a fun and vibrant nightlife community. Gay bars are a place where people feel safe to express themselves however they feel comfortable, free from judgment. They provide a space for serenity amidst a still-intolerant world.

Although it’s great to have a place to feel safe, the fact that these places are often bars means that people are drinking. The thought of going to a bar sober is laughable to many so the people feel the need to drink while there. When a bar is one of the few places some LGBTQ+ people feel safe, the higher rates of drinking and drug use aren’t as surprising.