LGBTQ Workers, Mental Health and Addiction: What You Need to Know

Examining LGBTQ Addiction amid the workers' rights Supreme Court Case.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard an important LGBTQ workers’ rights case. It looked at whether federal laws barring sexual discrimination protect gay and transgender employees. The Court’s ruling can have a large impact for LGBTQ Americans who struggle with addiction and mental illness.

Workplace Treatment of LGBTQ Employees

Gay and transgender workers frequently face discrimination and harassment in the workplace:

  • It’s legal to fire an employee on the basis of sexual orientation in 28 states.
  • 15-43%of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender workers have experienced being fired, denied promotions or harassed.
  • 46%of LGBTQ workers say they are closeted at work.
  • 31%of LGBTQ workers say they have felt unhappy or depressed.

Many LGBTQ employees face similar treatment from their families and other areas of society.

“Coping”: LGBTQ Addiction Statistics

More than eight Million Americans struggle with co-occurring addiction and mental illness, like depression or anxiety. Nearly 11 million full-time workers have a substance use disorder. Many are LGBTQ employees who cope with harassment and discrimination by using alcohol and other drugs.

LGBTQ adults are more than twice as likely to use illicit drugs in the past year. They are also more likely to have suffer from addiction and mental health issues at the same time. These high rates of alcohol and drug use are a direct of the treatment they face in and out of work. They feel like their financial security is threatened because of their sexual identity. Prescription medication, as well as illicit drugs and alcohol, provide a short-term “escape” from these toxic feelings.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Workplace-Related LGBTQ Addiction?

The Supreme Court ruling can offer federal protections. Companies can also provide more inclusive workplace cultures to curb substance abuse among their LGBTQ employees. They can also offer stronger mental health resources in their benefits packages. Recovery Unplugged offers LGBTQ-friendly addiction treatment. We also work with companies to give their employees a chance to heal from addiction through our EAP program. If you or someone you care about is gay or transgender, and has been driven to addiction by work, we’re ready to help. Don’t let discrimination and harassment destroy your life.