Does the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community have a higher rate of substance abuse than the general public does? The answer is yes according to most statistics and mental health studies. While the number of medical studies and research projects that examine this question are not widespread they do show some surprising facts. The general population has a rate of substance abuse that is roughly 9%-10% on average when all age groups are considered. When the GLBT community is examined the level of substance abuse is 2-3 times this. Between 20%-30% when all age groups are included. Why is this though? There are many different theories but there is not any scientific evidence to back up these theories to date.
Many believe that those in the GLBT population are more likely to turn to substance abuse in order to eliminate feelings of loneliness or feeling like they are an outcast from society. It may be hard for them to find others who share the same interests, and many still hide their true identity and sexual orientation in order to avoid being judged or ridiculed. Daily stress from feeling or being discriminated against can build up, and the individual may turn to substance abuse in order to escape a stark and very tough reality. A large number of highly effective substance abuse treatment programs are Christian oriented, so there may be fewer options for those with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity because they do not fall into the mainstream Christian beliefs.