By Thomas Whitfield
LGBTQ individuals, compared to heterosexuals, are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, have substance abuse issues and continue heavy drinking later in life. Much of this is thought to be explained by Minority Stress Theory, which broadly states that individuals of sexually marginalized groups experience elevated levels of stress.
Many LGBTQ individuals reach for substances to find the comfort and acceptance we’re not always able to in other ways. I’m not anti-drugs, but we need to talk about why they’re being used and find other ways to fill the voids. Personally, I would love to never have to log onto social media again and see that someone I know has OD’d and died.
I’ve known my best friend and now roommate for six years. A bit ago I noticed he was staying up all night, picking his skin, pacing around the apartment, and he eventually lost his job (his parents now pay his rent). I finally asked him what was going on and he enthusiastically told me he started doing meth. I’m worried about him. What can I do? – Male, Gay, 27
I would begin with talking to him about your concerns, which it sounds like there are plenty of. This is someone you’ve known for a while, so you should have a decent guess about what response to expect.
Depending, your next move is to do what’s best for you both. If it’s the living situation you want to change, then one of you may have to move out. If it’s his substance use, you’re going to need help from others. He’s an adult, and you have no control over what he does, but his parents pay his rent, so they have leverage.
There is a huge difference between someone casually using a substance and someone not being able to take care of themselves. If this is someone you sincerely care about, and you fear for his safety, you may have to put your friendship at risk. A big part of friendship is honesty, so be honest with him.
I love my friends, and hanging out with them on the weekends is great, but more and more all we do is go out and do coke or molly. I’m not going to lie, I enjoy it, I just don’t want to do it all the time. How can I keep my friends but get them to stop doing so many drugs? – Male, Gay, 25
Unfortunately, we can’t just make our friends do what we want them to; however, I’m curious to know what conversations you’ve had with your friends about this. Have you proposed other activities to do that don’t involve drugs? What else do you have in common that you can do aside from drugs? Furthermore, what would your substance use look like ideally?
Just because your friends are doing them doesn’t mean you have to. If every time you do an activity you have to be fucked up, maybe the activity in itself just isn’t that fun. NYC is huge, and there is no reason you can’t have more than one friend group. It’s possible to find friends that don’t use the substances you’re trying to cut back on.