Post by Guest Writer Steven Haden CEO, Envision:You (he/him) envision-you.org
While Pride season is a time of expressing one’s authentic self and celebrating one’s LGBTQ+ identity, it can also be a challenging time for queer folks in recovery or struggling with substance use. There are endless parties, drink specials galore, and many Pride events are sponsored by alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco companies looking to cash in on a fabulous time. While I don’t begrudge anyone from enjoying a substance-fueled celebration (I gladly attended many myself before getting sober), if you are a person who is concerned about your relationship with drugs or alcohol or just someone who wants to experience various events with a clear head, Pride can be a triggering or even dangerous set of events.
At the risk of being a party pooper, allow me to point out some disparities in substance use for the LGBTQ+ community. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, LGBTQ+ individuals have a higher rate of using substances than those who identify as cisgender and heterosexual. Recent data from Envision You’s State of the State survey shows that 17 percent of LGB adults aged 18 and over have a substance use disorder, and nearly a quarter of LGB adults reported binge drinking, compared to 16 percent of heterosexuals, and 1 in 10 LGB people age 26 and older reported misuse of opioids. These disparities can be explained by a multitude of factors, including the higher rates of trauma, anxiety, depression, and suicidality that queer people face due to stigma, discrimination, and less access to affirming behavioral health care and support networks.
If you know where to look, there is a thriving community of LGBTQ+ folks that are in recovery from substance use and living a sober lifestyle. If you are interested in enjoying Pride without substances this year, here are a few tips to party and be in the community while staying sober.
- Find a friend
Go to Pride with a friend who knows you are sober and who can support you. Have a conversation about warning signs of discomfort and triggers. Check-in on each other regularly and ask for support when you need it. One trigger for substance use is isolation, so make a communication plan with one or more trusted friends and focus on enjoying their company.
- Focus on staying present and the reason for celebration
Stay mindful and grounded, friends. Set your intentions before going to an event, and remember that you are at Pride to have fun and honor those who have made, and are making, Pride possible by advocating for our rights. Focus on why you are choosing to stay sober and enjoy the festivities. Reflect on why Pride is important to you and focus on being your authentic self and being kind and compassionate to yourself.
- Seek out Sober Pride Events
It can be overwhelming during Pride if you feel you are the only sober person around, but the queer and sober community is growing, so you can seek out sober celebrations with individuals with similar goals. Sober Pride events focus on LGBTQ+ community and celebration without the use of substances. If you can’t find a sober Pride event near you, create your own and invite people you want to celebrate with.
- Bring Your Own Beverage
Bringing your own non-alcoholic beverage to an event allows you to have control and something to do with your hands. Familiar non-alcoholic beverages include sparkling water, lemonade, sodas, and sports drinks. If you do not find it triggering to your sobriety, there are a variety of non-alcoholic beers and spirits available at many retail stores. Some people feel more at ease if they can drink a non-alcoholic beverage while at Pride. Some Pride events do not allow outside beverages, so check before you go. It is also important to stay hydrated during these long summer events!
However you choose to celebrate, I wish you a safe and exuberant Pride this season!
Sober Pride Events
- The Pride Celebration June 26, 2022 https://www.gayandsober.org/celebration
- New Sober Area at Denver Pride June 25 & 26, 2022
- Pride Inside Out and Queer Prom June 4, 2022
If you or someone you know is experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis,
please contact Colorado Crisis Services by calling 844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255.
If MINES is your EAP call 1-800-873-7138 or visit minesandassociates.com to access your free and confidential services including counseling, legal/financial services, work/life services, and wellness services today!
To Your Wellbeing,
The MINES Team
OMNI Institute Colorado LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health State of the State Survey Report. Envision:You, 2021.