No matter what, no matter the time period, no matter your sexual orientation, no matter where you live, and no matter who you know being a kid approaching one’s teenage years is hard. With that said imagine being a kid struggling with your sexuality and approaching your teenage years. Challenges for LGBT youth run rampant in our society. Sadly another thing that runs rampant in our society is drugs. The two, exploration of sexual identity and exploration of substance abuse, unfortunately seem to form a perfect marriage to one another. Oftentimes the pressures of navigating one’s youth tempt unsuspecting victims into a whirlwind of drugs and alcohol. Taken at face value this is a shame but considering the nation is on the precipice of considerable progress in LGBT rights the ante is upped and we must fight for our future. We should be looking to LGBT youth as a new future of people that can feel comfortable and protected in this world. Our LGBT youth of today should be able to dream of their wedding day, live knowing hate crimes against them will not be tolerated, live thinking that they can have any opportunity their heterosexual counterparts have. Substance abuse, of all the things out there, should not be the thing to bring their downfall.
It is fact that LGBT youth are twice as likely to become substance abusers as heterosexual youth and the statistics unfortunately follow into adulthood as well. Substance abuse is a very big problem in the community. Often when people are experiencing traumatic things that they are unable to process and handle on their own they will turn to drugs and alcohol. Maybe the first time you take a drink it’s at a party and everyone is doing it so you do too. The first time you smoke marijuana you just want to know what it’s like. The first time you snort cocaine you were bullied at school and you just want an escape just for a little while. The problem is that the false feeling of good given by these drugs is an enticing prospect and you return many times to the feeling until you can’t achieve the feeling anymore and you’re left grappling to find any drug that will give you respite from the hard things in life.
So many LGBT people have a lifelong struggle with the alluring pull of drugs and alcohol but the youth in our community needs to be able to realize that it doesn’t have to be that way. Young LGBT people can grow, prosper and be the true future of this nation. It’s time to stand up to that invisible monster inside us all, the one that says you’re not normal, you’re not good enough, you’re not straight. That monster lives, by our own creating, to make us want to sabotage ourselves and drugs and alcohol are an easy fast way of doing so. Breaking the cycle is key. LGBT adults have a 20 to 30 percent substance abuse rate compared to the 9 percent rate amongst heterosexual adults. These habits start when we are young, if the habits are eradicated at the root more productive and less addicted adults will emerge.
Being LGBT in a world that has always told us this is something that is not normal, something that is shameful, something that we need to fix about ourselves is a really hard thing to deal with. The good news is that it is getting better. Laws are being put in place to make us realize that we are normal human beings with normal rights. The more our youth is able to rise above those old standards the more productive, healthy and drug free adults we’ll see in the community. Our LGBT youth does not have to be the future addicts of America they can rise above and lead the way into simply being the future.