They say that addiction does not discriminate. That is true but it is also true that addiction and alcohol use are especially prevalent in the LGBTQ community. It’s an issue that is prolific and well documented. How can we continue celebrating Pride without alcohol?
What the numbers say
Those within the LGBTQ community suffer from higher rates of substance use compared to members of the general population. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports substance use disorders affect 20-30% of the LGBTQ population, compared to only 9% of the population as a whole. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents are 90% more likely to use alcohol and drugs than their heterosexual counterparts. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are more likely to engage in casual, binge, and heavy alcohol use than their heterosexual counterparts.
Why is alcohol an issue?
The reasons alcohol misuse is so prevalent in the community are many fold. One is culture – many of the events in the LGBTQ community are centered around alcohol and often sponsored by alcohol companies. As with any stigmatized population, co-occurring conditions also factor in. Severe depression, anxiety, and stress rates are much higher in the LGBTQ community. They also have higher suicide rates and self-harming tendencies. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are 3 times as likely to attempt suicide at some point in their lives as their heterosexual counterparts. Forty-one percent of transgender adults report having attempted suicide. Many turn to alcohol and others substances in order to self-medicate and fit in. Getting away from alcohol can often mean having to separate yourself from the only community you feel accepted by.
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Celebrating Pride Without Alcohol
Alcohol contains no superpowers. It doesn’t improve you or any activity in any way shape or form. You CAN be successful at celebrating Pride without alcohol. In fact, I can vouch that you will enjoy yourself far more alcohol free and create better memories than you ever did while drinking. What is it about the event you’re attending that makes you want to celebrate? Is it the alcohol? Or is it the people, the cause, the dancing, etc.?
Food for thought: You’re not there for the alcohol. Celebrate the reason you are there.
Be A Rebel
I’m probably telling you something you already know but – you’re a badass. Yep, as far as rebels go, you top the list! Pushing those societal norms and challenging beliefs of individuals everywhere.
So – why are you conforming when it comes to drinking? Since when are you one for doing what society says you should do? How about celebrating Pride without alcohol to show everyone what it really means to be proud? I doubt you’d want your lasting legacy to be a picture of you drunk and sloppy at a bar, parade, or other event. So be a rebel by not drinking and showing everyone just what a badass you are.
I know it’s a cliche saying but … why fit in when you were made to stand out?
Do The Work
Finally, when it comes to celebrating Pride without alcohol it starts with celebrating you. You are worth the work it will take to love yourself – flaws, scars, and imperfections. You are beautiful. We really can’t fully love or celebrate anything until we first learn to love ourselves. That means doing the work to overcome our battles. I can’t tell you what that will take but I can tell you that there is no shame involved in celebrating ourselves by working to become someone we can love. Read all the books, join The Alcohol Experiment, find support groups, get a therapist. Do what you need to so you don’t need or even desire alcohol to numb the pain.
The best way to celebrate anything is to make others want to emulate you. Become that light.