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Updated on September 14, 2023
5 min read

The LGBTQ+ Community & Alcoholism

Does the LGBTQ+ Community Face a Higher Risk of Alcoholism?

People who identify as LGBTQ+ often face social stigma, discrimination, and other unfair treatment not experienced by their heterosexual counterparts. 

They also face a higher risk of harassment, violence, and hate crimes. As a result, the LGBTQ+ community is significantly impacted by alcoholism and substance abuse. 

Research shows up to 25% of the LGBTQ+ community has a moderate alcohol dependency. In comparison, 5% to 10% of the general population has moderate alcohol dependency. 

What is the LGBTQ+ Community?

LGBTQIA+ is a community of sexual or gender minorities. Each letter is an abbreviation for terms used to describe a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The community includes people who identify as:

  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Bisexual
  • Transgender
  • Transexual
  • Two-Spirit
  • Queer
  • Questioning
  • Intersex
  • Asexual
  • Ally
  • Pansexual
  • Agender
  • Gender Queer
  • Bigender
  • Gender Variant
  • Pangender

This is a partial list. The words used to describe these identities and communities are constantly developing and expanding. People may identify as something that is not included in our list. Other all-encompassing terms include “Queer Community” and “Rainbow Community.” 


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Why Do LGBTQ People Develop Alcoholism?

LGBTQ+ people are four times as likely as heterosexual adults to misuse substances. The tendency towards misusing substances is mainly because they face bigotry and discrimination, especially against the older generation of LGBTQ+ members.

Discrimination can lead to mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Those affected may experience distress, fear, and feelings of low self-esteem.

Many people turn to binge drinking and illicit drugs to self-medicate. Self-medication often makes mental health illnesses worse and leads to substance use disorders.

Why is it Difficult for LGBTQ+ People To Recieve Support?

Many people in the LGBTQ+ community do not have the same support systems as their heterosexual counterparts. Many queer people also lose support from their families and loved ones when they come out.

As such, homelessness is a big problem among young members of the LGBTQ+ community. They often run away or are shunned by their families and loved ones.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community also tend to be prevented from attending faith-based support systems. They may have to hide their sexual orientation to participate in such programs. 

LGBTQ-Friendly Addiction Treatment Programs and Resources

Awareness of the problems the LGBTQ+ community face is growing. American addiction centers have various LGBTQ-specific treatments and resources now available to meet their unique needs.

If you, a friend, or a loved one is experiencing alcoholism, you are not alone. Achieving sobriety is a challenging journey that may require professional help and guidance from addiction treatment experts.

Here are several types of LGBTQ-friendly treatment programs:

LGBTQ+ Rehab Centers

LGBTQ+ treatment centers usually provide programs categorized by sexual orientation or gender identity, including:

  • Medical detox: Medically supervised detox used to avoid harmful withdrawal effects 
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A short-term therapy technique that explores the link between thought patterns and addiction
  • Inpatient rehab: Involves checking yourself into a rehab facility for 24-hour medical supervision 
  • Outpatient rehab: A treatment program where you are freely allowed to leave the rehab facility

Issues like homophobia, transphobia, and familial rejection can trigger alcohol cravings. Because these rehab centers understand the specific stressors that affect the community, they provide additional support that addresses these particular issues.

Dual-Diagnosis Therapy

Dual-diagnosis therapy addresses substance abuse and other mental health conditions or co-occurring disorders. Many LGBTQ+ alcohol and drug treatment programs address other conditions besides addiction. 

Patients may also be addicted to more than one substance. They may have additional health issues like HIV/AIDS or hepatitis. Most specialty treatment centers offer dual diagnosis treatment. 

Counseling Services for Loved Ones

Many LGBTQ-friendly rehab centers offer extra counseling for partners and families of the queer community. Traditional family therapy and marriage counseling often aren’t suitable. During therapy, counselors consider a person’s sexual orientation and how it may affect their relationships.

LGBTQ+ Support Groups

LGBTQ+ peer support groups consist of other people going through similar experiences and struggles. 

You’ll be able to form a community of understanding and empathetic people through these support groups. They often offer a deeper understanding of the community’s struggles and issues. 


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How Do These Programs Work?

LGBTQ-friendly alcohol and drug centers address the unique needs and concerns of the community. Treatment facilities provide safe, comfortable, and non-judgmental environments. They also offer more targeted treatments.

During treatment, the standard concerns of addiction and substance abuse are addressed. Any unique issues that LGBTQ+ members face are also treated.

Individualized addiction treatment is more effective than a one-size-fits-all approach. This is especially true for LGBTQ+ members who struggle with extra challenges during treatment. 


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Benefits of Specialized LGBTQ+ Rehab Centers

LGBTQ+ community members can complete alcohol and substance abuse treatment at conventional rehab centers. 

However, advantages to receiving treatment designed to meet the specific needs of LGBTQ+ people include:

  • Friendly facilities and staff that are trained to handle specific issues
  • Safe and accepting environments
  • Understanding healthcare providers
  • Specific therapies designed to cater to LGBTQ+ communities

LGBTQ-friendly centers offer services that can help address identity issues often linked to a patient’s substance abuse. Some people may also need to explore their sexual identity to understand their alcohol or drug use.


The LGBTQ+ community has a greater risk of developing substance use disorders due to the stress they face from bigotry and discrimination.

To help address their issues, many rehab facilities offer treatment options that cater to LGBTQ+ people. These programs address specific problems rooted in alcohol addiction or substance misuse.

American addiction centers also offer various benefits to help people achieve and maintain sobriety. These include safe spaces, understanding staff, and specific therapies catered to a person’s needs.

Updated on September 14, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on September 14, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Green, K., and Feinstein, B. “Substance use in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: an update on empirical research and implications for treatment.” Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2011.
  2. Hughes et al. “The Influence of Gender and Sexual Orientation on Alcohol Use and Alcohol-Related Problems: Toward a Global Perspective.”  Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, 2016. 
  3. McCabe et al. “Sexual orientation, substance use behaviors and substance dependence in the United States.” Addiction, 2009.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Substance Use and SUDs in LGBTQ*” Populations, National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+).” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2023.
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2020.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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