My name is Lloyd and I’m a gay male addict in recovery. While I’ve always been gay, I haven’t always been in recovery!
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) often face social stigma, discrimination, and other challenges not encountered by people who identify as heterosexual. They also face a greater risk of harassment and violence.” These environmental stressors place the LGBT population at a markedly higher risk for developing substance use disorders.
Growing up in suburban New Jersey in the 90’s as a gay man, I experienced much of this social stigma and discrimination firsthand. Many addicts talk about resorting to drugs and alcohol after feeling like they don’t belong, a feeling I can strongly identify with! This was especially poignant as a homosexual.
Having an effeminate demeanor at a young age, I was made fun of a lot. When I discovered marijuana, I felt like everything changed. Suddenly, I was part of the cool crowd at school, and the feeling of belonging was amazing.
The disease of addiction is progressive. It always gets worse, never better. Occasional marijuana use turned into chronic use. Adderall turned into cocaine, which turned into crack. And Percocet turned into OxyContin, which turned into heroin.
Between 2003 and 2013, I attended multiple detoxes and residential treatment centers, was hospitalized many times as a result of my addiction, spent time in jail, and was mandated to attend a yearlong program.
The first time I ever said I was gay out loud was during my first residential treatment stay in 2003. Once I cleared my mind, I realized this was something that I was going to have to accept, if I was going to stay clean. Unfortunately, there were no resources to help me with the process of coming out at that treatment center. Furthermore, there was a ton of stigma, which made me feel even more isolated from everyone else than I already did.
Finally, in 2013 I surrendered and realized my life would end in jails, institutions, or death unless I were to remain completely abstinent. By attending support groups, working with clinicians, and making many positive changes in my life, I have managed to stay abstinent since then.
What has always been a struggle for me as a sober gay man is finding ways to meet guys. I have no business being in a bar, and many of the other social gatherings where I live in New York City revolve around drinking and getting high.
One of the many lessons I’ve learned in recovery is that if I want something to change in my life, I need to take action. I discovered the meetup app where gay guys have meetups to do everything from speed dating to cruises around Manhattan to board game clubs. I found and joined a gay bowling league, where I’ve met a ton of awesome guys. There is also a bustling gay sober support network in Manhattan, where I’ve been able to meet tons of new friends and have even had some dates!
Currently, I have my dream job doing business development for Mountainside in NYC. I get to help addicts get into treatment for a living, and I am very proud to work for a treatment center that not only accepts but truly embraces the LGBT community. I live in gratitude that I am surrounded by people in my job and in life who not only accept me as someone in recovery but accept me as a GAY man in recovery.
If you are struggling, reach out for help, talk to a friend, a loved one. Just never give up.