24 Sep Counter Isolation to Strengthen Youth Against Addiction
There are many factors that contribute to addiction and its risk. Certain individuals are at an especially high risk for addiction, whether that’s due to genetic causes, events and environment that they grew up in, or continuing mental health issues.
There’s one group that is at an unusually high risk for addiction: the LGBT community. While about 9% of the population at large struggles with addiction, an estimated 20-30% of the LGBT community has the same problem. That means that gay or transgender teens are over twice as likely to struggle with addiction!
Isolation is One of the Biggest Contributors to Addiction
There are many reasons that addiction is so high in the LGBT community. Some of the problem could be a traditional reliance on bars and parties as havens and socialization. It could also be that less LGBT addicts seek out help for addiction, out of fear of being met with discrimination and misguided attempts to help with the wrong things.
However, the single biggest reason for this problem is isolation.
Gay or transgender youth are less likely to have strong ties and support from parents and family. They’re more likely to struggle with bullying, teasing, and even hate crimes. Because of the very nature of being gay, lesbian, bi or trans, you often feel isolated, different, and lonely.
Feeling like a social outcast, struggling with identity, and desperately seeking something that relieves emotional pain and makes you feel loved and accepted… all of these factors create the perfect environment for addiction. As ties to stable relationships, social achievement, and personal resources dissolve, individuals can become more and more dependent on a substance.
Connection and Support is the Answer
Brene Brown says, “If you put shame [and we might add, addiction] in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”
It’s important to look at addiction and realize that it is, at its core, a misguided way to treat an underlying problem; it’s a way that people seek out the things they need in the wrong place. Everyone needs a way to channel and manage stress. Everyone needs to have a way to handle extreme emotions. And most of all, everyone needs relationships and support and love. For people who didn’t learn or receive these things, addiction can seem like the only option.
Here at Therapia, we believe that it’s important to answer our patients’ needs with compassion, empathy, and acceptance. We believe in building up patients so that they have the tools to answer the needs in their life without reaching for addiction. If you, or someone you love is struggling with addiction, contact us.