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The Importance of Substance Use Prevention in America’s LGBTQ Community

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gay, lesbian, and bisexual high school students are at higher risk for alcohol and drug abuse than heterosexual students. (Read a press release about the report here.)

Today, during Pride Month, I was pleased to meet with leaders and advocates from the LGBTQ community to talk about substance use and other important issues facing those who are “differently” oriented. I told them how proud I was to work for a President who has made more LGBTQ appointments than any before him and whose Administration is committed to securing equality for all citizens, regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation.

We also talked about the importance of prevention – stopping substance use before it begins and identifying drug-related problems early. Alcohol and drugs can wreak havoc on even the most supportive and nurturing environments, so it is crucial for these young people, and indeed for all Americans, to remain vigilant against the threat.

The Obama Administration has made drug-use prevention one of our top priorities and has devoted substantial resources to supporting community-based coalitions around the country through the Drug Free Communities Support Program. These coalitions work to address local health and safety issues, including those faced by LGBTQ youth.

Among the other powerful tools available for preventing substance abuse is ONDCP’s “Above the Influence” Campaign, which gives teens information and a national platform to talk about staying above the influence of drugs and alcohol.

The Administration realizes there are significant gaps in understanding about the LGBTQ community. Although we’re clearly moving in the right direction, we must continue to seek culturally appropriate strategies and provide prevention, treatment, and recovery services for all Americans struggling with substance use problems.