Shame, Substance Abuse, & Celebration of Pride

2 min read · 2 sections

As part of the LGBTQ+ community, being proud of who you are and how you stand in this world is liberating. And one of the underlying reasons why that liberation is so significant and why there is a celebration of pride is due to a time when so many felt too ashamed to simply be themselves. Unfortunately, there are many others who still feel shame about their gender identity and/or sexuality in their blind comparison to mainstream society. Inadvertently, in some cases, this has led to many in the LGBTQ+ community battling substance abuse.

If you’re struggling with an addiction to alcohol, illicit drugs, or even prescriptions, you’re not alone and help is always within reach. American Addiction Centers, a nationwide leader in addiction treatment, not only provides inpatient and outpatient treatment, but we offer specialized programs tailored uniquely for and in support of the LGBTQ+ community. If you’re struggling, please reach out for the help that you need today.


Pride and Substance Abuse

Pride is celebrated in June, and the month was chosen to pay tribute to the Stonewall Uprising that took place in New York in 1969; the purpose of the 30-day celebration is to acknowledge the contributions of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals on an international, national, and local stage. For what started as a one-day celebration on the last Sunday in June, morphed into a month-long period of festivities. And what Pride looks like today is a variety of concerts, workshops, parties, picnics, and the infamous Pride parades.

Although there is legislation that still needs to be implemented and amended, and equality in many areas of life that still need to be achieved, the LGBTQ+ community have never been more embraced as they are right now. Businesses, social media, and even the mainstream media itself have demonstrated their support. And those of us who are part of the community, welcome it all.

But more can be done.

The shame that still exist is infused in a large part of the LGBTQ+ community, and sadly, is due to social stigma and discriminationYoung gay man feeling shame and battling substance abuse while holding a Pride flag and an American flag that still remain present. This shame may often lead to substance abuse. According to a study focusing on 389 lesbian, gay, and bisexual men and women, problems with drugs and alcohol were related to both guilt-proneness and shame-proneness.

The stigma associated with the sexual minority is the negative feelings and attitudes about homosexuality that are part of our social, legal, and cultural landscape. This can have a negative impact into one’s sense of self, “resulting in internalized heterosexism.” And this study focused on the roles that guilt and shame play in “internalized heterosexism and substance use.”

LGBTQ+ substance abuse statistics:

  • 15.1% of sexual minority adults had an illicit drug use disorder or an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the past year (2015), while 7.8% of straight adults battled the same challenges in 2015.
  • 37.6% of sexual minority adults (18 and older) reported marijuana use within the past year (2015), while only 16.2% of the general population did the same.
  • 9% of sexual minority adults (18 and older) used opioids within the past year (2015), while only 3.8% of the general adult population did the same.


Out and Proud

Being out and proud is all in the timing best left to each individual in the LGBTQ+ community and not some collective whole that forces this rite of passage onto anyone. Although being gay is not a choice, to be out is a personal decision. And to arrive at the point of being proud is a liberating moment, free from the constraints of the expectations of the sexual majority.

And that moment seems to evolve over time, leaving the individual to wonder exactly when it happened. What was the one event, the one moment, that I became proud of who I am? But the journey that precedes this “moment” is as long and as unique as a fingerprint or a snowflake. The journey causes the individual to mature over time, and one day, they realize that they are genuinely proud of who they are.

For some along this journey, they have faced drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, overdose, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or some may have even attempted suicide, or worse, succeeded. It’s unfortunate that some individuals never reach their moment of pride.

Regardless of who you are, on behalf of American Addiction Centers, we would like to wish all those in the LGBTQ+ community a happy and safe Pride 2021!

If you’re struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, you don’t have to continue this battle on your own. American Addiction Centers is available to help you reach long-term sobriety one day at a time and one step at a time. Please seek help from trusted and compassionate medical professionals and get on the road to recovery today!

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