Being young is hard enough, but being part of the LGBTQ youth is even harder. You have a voice, thoughts and opinions no one ever seems to take seriously. You are trying desperately to figure out your interests, your possible future career paths, your likes and dislikes … it’s overwhelming. Add to the mix the “label” of being a member of the LGBTQ community and growing up with healthy and constructive outlets for dealing with feeling bullied, isolated and confused becomes almost impossible.
Almost. But not completely.
Though there isn’t much research out there yet about the incidence of addiction among LGBTQ youth, there is no doubt that it is a problem worth solving. Those in the LGBTQ community experience significantly higher rates of drug addiction due to the violence and discrimination they are often exposed to in their daily lives.
Even worse, it is much more difficult for them to find professionals to talk to about the ways their gender identity plays a role in their addictions.
The problem with more traditional treatment and rehabilitation centers, who are open to anyone trying to recover, is that LGBTQ youth often suffer drug addiction due to issues with identity, which is a very specific cause that not all treatment programs are qualified to deal with.
Feeling isolated often leads members of the LGBTQ community to gay bars, where they can surround themselves with people who understand exactly what they are going through. This wouldn’t be so bad if frequently hanging out in bars didn’t make young people much more likely to use alcohol and drugs as a further escape from the confusion and pressure that often come along with a gender identity and/or sexual orientation different than what modern mainstream society is willing to fully accept.
This leaves many LGBTQ youth addicted and even further isolated from even the people who care about and understand them. Sometimes, the only way out of the suffering is to seek treatment. Many aren’t aware that there are recovery options out there specifically for members of the LGBTQ community.
Treatment programs such as Pieces to Pathways offer recovery initiatives specific to the needs of LGBTQ youth struggling with drug addiction. Places like these are also considered “safe spaces,” places where individuals can speak openly about their addiction and underlying issues with gender identity without the fear of being judged, criticized or misunderstood.
Being young is hard. So is being yourself, at any age. Everyone deals with it in different ways. If you feel you are on the wrong path, it is never too late to make a positive change in your life. You can make that choice, for yourself, right now.
If you are struggling with drug addiction but don’t know where to turn, know that there are safe places out there for you. You deserve to recover just as much as anyone else does. Choosing recovery means learning to cope with your feelings in healthier, more constructive ways, but choosing the path of healing—the right path—will be worth it in the end. Start the process today.