According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, almost 18 million Americans abuse alcohol (roughly 15% of the population). Each year more than 100,000 Americans die of alcohol-related causes. Alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all U.S. traffic deaths. In addition to these incredible statistics, alcohol abuse causes strained relationships, financial difficulties and numerous medical and mental health problems.
In the LGBT community, research suggests that alcohol abuse and dependence occurs at even higher rates than in the mainstream population. Independent studies collectively support the estimate that alcohol abuse occurs in the LGBT community as rates up to three times that in the mainstream population. Said another way, alcohol abuse is estimated to occur in up to 45% of those in the LGBT community.
Alcohol abuse can result from the stress and difficulty of dealing with the heterosexism and discrimination that is faced by many within the LGBT community. A tradition of socializing in bars and nightclubs among many LGBT people may exacerbate the risk of developing problematic drinking behavior.
Symptoms of gay and lesbian alcohol abuse or dependence include:
- Development of a tolerance to alcohol that results in the need to drink more to achieve intoxication or the desired effect. Tolerance also results in a reduced effect when drinking the same amount of alcohol.
- More alcohol is consumed, in large quantities, and over a longer time period than was intended.
- There is a desire to reduce the amount of drinking, and/or efforts to reduce or quit drinking are unsuccessful.
- More and more time is spent drinking, thinking about drinking, or nursing hangovers.
- Continuing to drink, in spite of knowing the link between alcohol use and the problems it may be causing (e.g., continuing to drink despite having stomach problems that are made worse by alcohol).
- Arrests or legal problems related to driving while drinking.
- Important work, social, or family activities are given up or reduced as the result of drinking.
Alcohol abuse issues can be addressed clinically in a variety of ways. Medical intervention, education, individual/group therapy, and social support are factors shown to be most effective in addressing alcohol issues. PRIDE Institute has been helping LGBT people recover from alcohol abuse and dependence since 1986.