HomeAddictionProcess Addictions and Substance Addictions in the Gay Community

Process Addictions and Substance Addictions in the Gay Community

Group of people gambling.

From exercise to food to gambling, process addictions can be just as harmful as substance addictions.

Approximately 30 percent of the LGBT community — compared to just nine percent of the general population — suffers from some form of addiction, according to a report shared by the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC). In addition to alcohol and substance addiction, this also includes process addictions. Here’s a closer look at process addictions among LGBT people, along with the critical role treatment can play in fostering change and supporting relapse prevention.

Substance Addictions Versus Process Addictions

The LGBT community’s higher rates of substance addiction, also called “substance use disorder,” are well-known. A disease that affects both the brain and behavior, it results in the inability to control the use of legal or illegal drugs or medications even when they’re causing harm. Common types of substances used and abused in the LGBT community include tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, opiates, club drugs, and prescription medications.

According to the NAADAC report, there are 10 criteria for addiction, including loss of control, compulsive behavior, efforts to stop, loss of time, preoccupation, inability to fulfill obligations, continuation despite consequences, escalation, losses, and withdrawal.

Unfortunately, substance addictions aren’t the only type of addiction seen in the LGBT community. Many LGBT individuals also struggle concurrently with process addictions, defined by the NAADAC as “any compulsive-like behavior that interferes with normal living and causes significant negative consequences.”

Common process addictions include food/eating disorders, sex, gambling, money, internet, porn, exercise, video games, television, work, and relationships.

Treating Process Addictions

While not all process addictions may sound detrimental, they trigger a similar physiological response in the brain as drugs and alcohol. In other words, it’s possible for people to become addicted to things that not only aren’t illegal, but can also seem harmless. This can make them especially dangerous — even when the physical signs seen in substance addiction are absent.

Group of people holding hands in a circle.

A strong support network is critical for LGBT recovery from both substance and process addictions.

As such, prevention and treatment of processes addictions are similar to that of substance addiction treatment, and should include the following components:

  • Examining behaviors and goals in order to facilitate change and prevent relapse
  • Looking at the connection between an individual’s inability to manage and relieve stress without unwanted behaviors
  • Family, group and individual therapy
  • 12-step support group attendance

Furthermore, the same infrastructure must be in place during recovery, including a strong social support network.

It’s also important to note that as with substance abuse, process addictions can also be linked with psychological problems, including anxiety, depression, and aggression, according to research published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine. 

Because the treatments are similar, they can be delivered concurrently — with a caveat, however. Because LGBT addiction has different roots than addiction found within the straight community, it requires special attention. For best outcomes, providers should be trained in culturally competent treatment in order to offer programming specific to the unique needs of the LGBT community.

Enter Harris House. Offering comprehensive and targeted rehabilitation programs for more than 50 years in the St. Louis area, Harris House has invaluable expertise in LGBTQ addiction treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction — substance, process or both —  call us today to learn about admissions.

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