Alcoholism affects the LGBT community more than the heterosexual population (Hughes, Wilsnack & Kantor, 2016). Data from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reveal the following on alcohol use among sexual minority adults:
• Approximately 63.6% of sexual minority adults reported current alcohol use within the past month, compared to 56.2% of heterosexual adults
• An estimated 36.1% of LGBT individuals reported binge drinking within the past month, compared to 26.7% of the sexual majority
• About 8.2% of sexual minorities were heavy alcohol drinkers, compared to 7.1% of heterosexual adults
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that 20-30% of LGBT individuals resort to substance abuse, compared to 9% of the sexual majority population. As for alcohol abuse, 25% of sexual minorities misuse alcohol compared to 5-10% of the heterosexual population.
The alcohol use disparities among sexual minorities may be attributed to social stigma and discrimination. Prior to the Stonewall Riots of 1969, LGBT individuals were forced to hide their sexual identity and sexual orientation so that they could maintain a public heterosexual identity (Orel, 2014). For many years, gay bars have served as a haven for individuals, particularly gay men, to openly disclose their sexual orientation without being judged, and consequently alcohol has become the central hub of social activities among sexual minorities.