Gay and bisexual men and women are much more likely to struggle with substance use disorder than their heterosexual peers, with gay and bisexual women and gay and bisexual people of color struggling disproportionately.
Those are the findings of a new U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) report[i]. The report analyzed data from the 2021 and 2022 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (“the report does not present findings for transgender people, non-binary people, or those people with any other identity besides binary male or female, and it does not present findings on sexual identity for adolescents younger than 18”).
Why do gay and bisexual men and women struggle more than others? Researchers point to unique stressors (e.g., shame, discrimination, physical abuse, etc.) that members of the LBGTQIA+ community endure and the impact those stressors have on mental health and substance use.
Here is a verbatim sample of the key findings from the report:
- Sexual minority adults were more likely than straight adults to have had an SUD in the past year.
- About one-third of bisexual males, bisexual females, and gay males had an SUD in the past year. About one-fourth of lesbian females had an SUD in the past year.
- There was no difference in the prevalence of binge or heavy drinking in the past month between sexual minority males and straight males.
- Sexual minority females were more likely than straight females to have been binge drinkers in the past month. Sexual minority females were about twice as likely as straight females to have been heavy drinkers in the past month.
- Marijuana was by far the most commonly used illicit drug in the past year, regardless of sexual identity or gender.
- Sexual minority females were 2 to 3 times more likely than straight females to have used marijuana in the past year. The prevalence was 40% to 45% for sexual minority females.
- Marijuana use in the past year among sexual minority males was nearly twice as high compared with marijuana use among straight males. The prevalence was roughly 40% for sexual minority males.
- Sexual minority males were 2 to 3 times more likely than straight males to have used illicit drugs other than marijuana in the past year.
- Sexual minority females were 2 to 3 times more likely than straight females to have used illicit drugs other than marijuana in the past year.
- Sexual minority adults were at least twice as likely as straight adults to have misused any CNS stimulant in the past year. Roughly similar patterns held for each individual CNS stimulant (cocaine, methamphetamine, or prescription stimulants).
- Bisexual females were almost twice as likely as lesbian females and more than 3 times as likely as straight females to have misused opioids in the past year.
- Bisexual males were about twice as likely as straight males to have misused opioids in the past year. The prevalence did not differ between gay males and straight males.
- Regardless of gender, bisexual adults were about 3 times more likely than their straight counterparts to have used hallucinogens in the past year.
- Lesbian or gay adults were about twice as likely as their straight counterparts to have used hallucinogens in the past year.
At Aware Recovery Care, we stand as allies to our LGBTQIA+ friends, neighbors, family members, colleagues, and clients. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and need help in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, or Indiana, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. And we come to you, regardless of where you live. Our unique in-home treatment model of care gives clients a significantly better chance of recovery than traditional inpatient rehab care. Please get in touch with one of our Recovery Specialists to learn more.