LGBT Pride Month: Substance Use Prevention for Vulnerable Populations
The COVID-19 pandemic is an issue seemingly on everyone’s mind right now, and with good reason. The pandemic has negatively impacted virtually everyone in the United States to a greater or lesser extent. However, recent data suggests that the pandemic has disproportionately harmed more vulnerable populations, in particular racial and ethnic minorities. This continues the widespread trend of many public health issues having greater impacts among vulnerable populations; a trend also often found in the field of substance use.
June is LGBT pride month. And as we observe the month, it is important to remember and prepare to address the disproportionate risk of substance use that sexual minorities face. SAMHSA has found that sexual minorities are almost twice as likely as heterosexual adults to engage in substance use, and are significantly more likely to develop substance use disorders and other comorbidities. Research has identified the “extensive, unique lifecourse-related stressors” that sexual minorities face as a major risk factor for engaging in substance use. Substance use prevention professionals should ensure they have the capacity and knowledge to serve the needs of sexual minorities and other vulnerable populations.
SAMHSA has developed resources to support prevention professionals serving sexual minority populations. Prevention professionals can also seek training and technical assistance from a variety of SAMHSA-funded entities, including the Central East Prevention Technology Transfer Center.
 CDC (2020). COVID-19 in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/racial-ethnic-minorities.html
 NIDA (N/A). Substance Use and SUDs in LGBTQ* Populations. Available at https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/substance-use-suds-in-lgbtq-populations#references
 Schuler, M. et al (2018). Disparities in substance use behaviors and disorders among adult sexual minorities by age, gender, and sexual identity. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 189, 139-146.