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10 Common LGBTQ Substances of Abuse

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Sexual identity may increase your risk factors for substance use and addiction.

Adults defined as “sexual minority,” e.g., LGBTQ individuals, are more than twice as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to use illicit drugs. They’re also more vulnerable to substance misuse and more severe substance use disorders and addiction than their heterosexual counterparts. Here’s a closer look at 10 common substances used and abused by LGBTQ individuals, as identified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  

1. Marijuana

According to SAMHSA’s findings, a staggering 30.7 percent of sexual minorities over the age of 18 had used marijuana over the past year. This was significantly more than marijuana usage among sexual majority adults at 12.9 percent.

2. Prescription Pain Relievers

Prescription pain relievers claimed the second-place spot among illicit drugs within the sexual minority population with 10.4 percent of adults reporting past-year use. At 4.5 percent, significantly fewer sexual majority adults misused prescription pain relievers over the same period of time.

3. Prescription Tranquilizers

Just under 6 percent of the sexual minority population reported the use of prescription tranquilizers in the year preceding the survey compared to 2.2 percent of sexual majority adults.

4. Cocaine

Just over five percent of sexual minority adults reported using cocaine in the past year compared to just 1.8 percent of sexual majority adults.

5. Hallucinogens

Hallucinogenic drugs claimed the fifth-place spot with five percent of sexual minority adults reporting the use of hallucinogenic drugs in the past year compared to 1.6 percent of sexual majority adults.

6. Prescription Stimulants

Prescription stimulants were just edged out of the top five with 4.2 percent of sexual minority adults reporting past-year use compared to 1.9 percent of sexual majority adults.

7. Inhalants

Sexual minority adults were significantly more likely to use inhalants than their sexual majority counterparts: 3.7 percent compared to .3 percent.

8. Methamphetamines

Methamphetamine use among sexual minority individuals was comparatively less than other illicit drugs at 2.3 percent use. Still, as with all other illicit drugs, use outpaced the sexual majority population at just .6 percent.

9. Prescription Sedatives

While just 1.2 percent of sexual minority adults reported misusing prescription sedatives in the past year, this figure was still twice that of misuse of prescription sedatives by sexual majority adults.

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Healthcare programming, including substance abuse rehabilitation, that addresses the unique factors impacting sexual minorities is most effective.

10. Heroin

The trend continued with heroin use. While it claimed the last place spot in terms of the percentage of sexual minorities who used it in the prior year at .9 percent, it was still triple the rate of use seen in the sexual majority population.

One last thing to keep in mind? While some of these figures may seem insignificant, they add up. Across all illicit drugs, just under 40 percent of the sexual minority population reported past-year use compared to 17.1 percent for their sexual majority peers.

It’s also crucial to keep in mind that just as no two addicts are alike, nor are any two substance abuse treatment programs due to the complex nature of addiction. In the case of LGBTQ individuals, the importance of targeted treatment aimed at addressing the underlying issues that led to substance use and misuse cannot be overstated. Enter leading St. Louis area rehab Harris House. For more than 50 years, Harris House has been providing individualized rehabilitation programming for people living with addiction.  Call us to learn about admissions today.

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