Dual Diagnosis Prevalent In The Gay Community


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Although our world is becoming more tolerant of differences among people, prejudice and discrimination are still far too common.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, community has endured years of unfair inequality that lends itself to a whole host of negative effects and life consequences. Health care professionals have continued to see more overall drug abuse in the last decade, but the popularity of the drug, crystal meth in particular, has grown exponentially among the LGBT population.

Increase In Diagnosis Rate

The diagnosis of mental illness has increased among people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Depression is the most common mental illness among those who suffered years of shame, embarrassment, ridicule, and self-loathing because of their sexual orientation. Anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, are also common mental illnesses within the LGBT community.

Self-Medication

When anybody has difficult and painful emotions that seem unmanageable, human behavior is too seek a way of coping to make it through each day. Substance abuse is a standard approach to that coping process because drugs and alcohol appear to take away painful memories, discomfort in the moment, and feelings of low self-worth or self-esteem. The escape is only temporary though, and the use of substances only leads to negative life consequences when left untreated.

Recent studies have shown that the use of crystal meth among the gay community has risen in recent years. The desire to self-medicate has lead many people, especially gay men, to the stimulant drug that does great damage to the brain and body.

Dual Diagnosis

In an effort to treat the symptoms of a mental illness, whether recognized as a diagnosable illness or not, members of the gay community are self-medicating with crystal meth. The progression from drug use to abuse, dependence, and addiction presents a diagnosable illness. When a substance abuse disorder is appropriate and a mental illness, or eating disorder, can also be diagnosed, the individual is said to be dual diagnosis. Two or more diagnoses require concurrent treatment of all symptoms for the person to have a high chance of recovery.

Where The Problem Comes From

The root of the problem, frequently the symptoms of depression, have never been addressed. The gay man, for example, who has endured repeated disrespect and hate for his sexual orientation, may have been experiencing the symptoms of depression since childhood. If he was never exposed to a mental health assessment or help, he possibly grew up thinking that his symptoms were common and that he had to deal with them on his own. When introduced to crystal meth, he may have felt better, believing he had found the cure to his symptoms.

Treating the Problem

Crystal meth, or any other drug including alcohol, is not a cure for depression, and it will actually only worsen the effects of any mental illness. The drug is highly addictive drug and takes work to mentally, emotionally, and psychologically separate from your life once dependence has developed. Formal treatment is necessary for those dually diagnosed with a mental illness and crystal meth addiction.

The increased dual diagnosis prevalence in the gay community needs to be addressed, and is being treated by dual diagnosis treatment centers, some LGBT specialized, throughout the country.