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Pride Month: An Opportunity to Support Diversity

June is Pride Month, and all of us at the Newport County Prevention Coalition are thrilled to celebrate the diversity of the human race, with the incredible differences in our minds, our bodies, and our souls.

As we explore the contributions and challenges of the LGBTQ+ community we are struck by the research data pointing to higher risks and incidence of substance misuse among this population.

We are particularly concerned about the impact on those older adults who identify as LGBTQ+. According to research from New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, and the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research (CDUHR) at the NYC School of Global Public Health, older adults who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual have higher rates of using substances such as marijuana, opioids, and other tranquilizers. Additionally, studies have shown that LGBTQ+ adolescents are more likely to use these types of substances than their heterosexual counterparts in the same age group.

There are a number of potential causes for increased risk factors faced by this population, including discrimination, concealment of identify, oppression and the stigma associated with identifying as someone different from others.

One organization who focus on support of the LGBTQ+ community is SAGE, an organization which provides advocacy and services for LGBTQ+ elders. They have an Elder Hotline which anyone may call (877-360-LGBT). Additionally, the Pride Institute has phone support for those experiencing Chemical Dependency or may require a mental health referral. You can reach them at (800) 547-7433.

So how can we help? If you are a friend, family member, coworker, or contact and are aware of someone who may need support, it’s important to be a non-judgmental and work to get them the help they need. Finally, the Newport County Prevention Coalition website can help direct you to the No Wrong Door program where additional resources may be found.