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Help for Alcohol Abuse When You Identify as Queer

June 17, 2015 Vanessa Celis

It's common to abuse alcohol when identifying as queer. Learn the connection between alcohol abuse and being queer and how you can find help to recover.

Alcohol abuse while being queer can bring with it specific challenges. Unfortunately, for many people who are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community, alcohol abuse is a very common and serious problem. Many LGBTQ individuals rely on alcohol to deal with the stigma and mental illnesses they face. Here are some tips on how to get help if you identify as queer and abuse alcohol.

If You're Queer, Identifying Alcohol Abuse is First Step to Recovery

I have suspected for almost a year now that I abuse alcohol; during my college years, it was an easy way for me to escape the emotional pain that came from my depression and anxiety. Denying my bisexuality exacerbated my alcohol abuse. Denying my genderqueer identity has also worsened my drinking problem.

However, today I finally decided that I cannot rely on alcohol as a coping mechanism for my problems. It is not only unhealthy for my body, but to my mental health as well. Even though I felt a little scared, I went out and sought help. I am actively seeking support groups for alcohol addiction now.

Queer Stigma Fuels Alcohol Abuse

When one thinks about the rejection and isolation that LGBTQ individuals face from society, it is easy to see why so many queer people abuse alcohol. We drink to numb the pain. When we sip that glass of wine or chug that bottle of beer, we long to escape the loneliness and darkness that stems from the mental illnesses that result from isolation, rejection and pain. Many LGBTQ individuals don’t seek professional help for their addiction because they fear that their identity will not be validated or accepted. Unfortunately, many of them experience homophobia, biphobia or transphobia when they do seek help.

Finding Support for Alcohol Abuse While Being Queer

Thankfully, there are more LGBTQ positive support groups that focus on alcohol recovery now. I was very happy and relieved to see all the support groups for all sorts of addictions when I went to the LGBTQ Center in New York City. Even though things aren’t perfect, society is becoming more inclusive and aware of LGBTQ individuals. That awareness is spreading to mental health and support groups as well.

Recovery From Alcohol Addiction Is Hard But Possible

There is no way that I can say that I am not going to relapse. While I would love to be sober for the rest of my life, I know that I will have my low moments. When I was recovering from my self-harm addiction, my therapist always reminded me that relapse is part of recovery. I cannot demonize myself for slipping up. I am human, just like everyone else. Realizing that I have an alcohol addiction is helping me in my healing and recovery, along with accepting my sexual and gender identity. Choosing to say no to alcohol feels like the right thing and I know that it will help my self-acceptance and self-esteem.

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APA Reference
Celis, V. (2015, June 17). Help for Alcohol Abuse When You Identify as Queer, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, August 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/thelifelgbt/2015/06/alcohol-abuse-while-being-queer



Author: Vanessa Celis

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