Gay teens have a high rates of alcohol and drug abuse. Here's what you need to know and where to find help if you need it.
A recent study done by University of Pittsburgh researchers and published in the Journal Addiction found that,
"The odds of substance use for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are on average 190 percent higher than for heterosexual youth...What's more, for some sub-populations of LGB youth, the odds were substantially higher, including 340 percent for bisexual youth and 400 percent for lesbians, researchers found."
Those are some pretty intense numbers. So what is behind them? Here are some causes:
- Homophobia and discrimination
- The pressures related to keeping your identity hidden
- The pressures related to coming out
- Hanging out with an older crowd because it can be hard to meet other GLBT teens
Despite these issues, the head researcher of the study reminds us that:
"It is important to remember that the vast majority of gay youth are happy and healthy, despite the stressors of living in a violent, homophobic society. More than anything, gay youth need love, support and acceptance from their family members and friends. It also is imperative that health care providers offer a safe, confidential environment to discuss health care needs with gay teens."
There are a lot of reasons that GLBT teens should be careful about their substance use. For example, teen substance use has been linked to long term problems with drugs and alcohol later. Being under the influence can result in taking dangerous chances with sex, and can also make teens more likely to be involved in a sexual assault. Plus, substance use can affect things like your school work and relationships with friends and family.
If you think you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, consider talking to a GLBT-friendly counselor. You can also contact the National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Addiction Professionals or Gay AA for more information.