Overview: LGBTQ individuals have faced even bigger challenges than the general population due to the coronavirus pandemic and the shutdowns that resulted from it, which led some to engage in more alcohol abuse. Customized treatment options are needed when this population enters rehab to stop abusing alcohol.
A new study published in September 2020 looked at sexual behavior during the pandemic, particularly among the LGBTQ community. Predictably, the study found that at-home sexual behavior increased during study time period and that sexual behavior outside the home decreased during the same time period, April and May 2020.
As a side note, the study also found another important behavior that has increased during the pandemic: alcohol abuse.
Stress Levels Higher for LGBTQ
Let’s explore why LGBTQ individuals might be abusing alcohol at higher levels compared to other groups. In this particular study, many of the participants were college-age and young adults, many of whom were forced to move back home with their parents when their college campuses closed down or went virtual to avoid coronavirus exposure.
This situation alone has caused 65 percent of LGBTQ students surveyed by the University of Maryland School of Public Health to report either moderate or severe psychological stress. A similar scenario may have also occurred for young adults who lost their jobs during the pandemic and felt the need to move back in with their parents.
Imagine living an LGBTQ lifestyle that your parents don’t approve of or may not even know about and being forced out of your community where you feel comfortable, accepted, and fulfilled and back into your home of origin, where you may experience hostility or feel the need to hide your sexual orientation or gender identity.
Such an experience was reported by a number of study participants and likely contributed to increased levels of stress that could have led to increased alcohol use. NBC News also reported that LGBTQ young adults experienced increased depression when queer-friendly clubs closed down in an attempt to stop COVID-19 from spreading in communities.
Easy to Get Alcohol
It is well documented that stress, loneliness, and feeling trapped at home can lead people to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. While many businesses that were considered non-essential were closed down for several months during the initial phase of the pandemic and then again in some areas when cases began to climb higher, liquor stores and alcohol distributors remained open.
All someone had to do was put on a mask and maintain six feet of distance, and they could get alcohol. In some sectors, it was probably easier to get alcohol than it was to get toilet paper or disinfecting wipes.
For some in the LGBTQ community, it will not be possible to stop abusing alcohol when jobs return and colleges reopen. They may need help from a rehab program or therapist, and their unique needs will have to be addressed and met in order for them to succeed in their efforts to overcome their substance abuse.
Harris House has programs that can address specific challenges of LGBTQ and other minorities to provide effective treatment. Call us to learn about admissions and find the help you or a loved one needs.