The epidemiology of substance abuse among the LGBT population
Substance Use and Abuse in the LGBT Community In a discussion of the epidemiology of substance use and abuse among LGBT individuals, the following two questions are of interest to providers: • What is the epidemiology of substance use and abuse among LGBT individuals? • Do LGBT individuals use or abuse more substances than heterosexuals or the general population? Epidemiology is the study of the patterns of disease and health problems in populations and the factors that influence these patterns. Prevalencerefers to the number of people in a given population who are affected by a particular disease at a certain time; it is frequently expressed in percentages. GLBT Substance Abuse Incidence refers to the number of new cases of a disease or condition, such as alcoholism or drug abuse, in a given population over a specified time (such as a year).Rates of substance use and abuse vary from population to population. The numerous reasons for the varying rates include biological, genetic, psychological, familial, religious, cultural, and historical circumstances. The LGBT population is similar to the general population in that numerous factors predispose its members to substance abuse. However, some clinicians argue that the additional stigma and resulting tension of being a member of a marginalized community such as the LGBT community cause some members of the marginalized community to seek to manage these additional stressors by using mind altering substances.