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LGBTQ Substance Abuse Treatment

Unfortunately, despite years of work to achieve progress, even today, being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer still comes with some sort of stigma or discrimination. For many decades, research has been conducted surrounding bias and treatment difficulties related to the rates of substance abuse and addiction treatment within the LGBTQ community. People who are of LGBTQ orientation have higher rates of drug abuse and alcoholism than that of the general population. One of the main reasons for this is because of the stigma that is still associated with sexual orientation and sexual identity. The elevated levels of stress experienced by members of the LGBTQ community can lead to various mental health problems for which people self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

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Substance Abuse in the United States

LGBTQ Substance Abuse in America

As previously noted, people who are LGBTQ have higher incidences of drug addiction and alcoholism than compared to the heterosexual population. Between twenty and thirty percent of LGBTQ youth are affected by substance use disorders (as compared to nine percent of the population as a whole). Research conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health also showed that addiction and substance use disorders are twice as prevalent among LGBTQ youth and adults. The same surveys also indicated members of the LGBTQ community were more likely to seek treatment for co-occurring disorders (when addiction and mental health conditions occur together). 

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What is an LGBTQ Alcohol Rehab?

Although societal views are slowly adapting and stigma is reducing, the stressors that lead to increased substance abuse among LGBTQ youth and adults are still a challenge. Many LGBTQ individuals may actively avoid seeking addiction treatment because of previous, highly negative experiences within the health care community. These concerns may also arise from having heard about other people’s adverse experiences when seeking addiction treatment. LGBTQ-friendly drug and alcohol rehabs create tailored and comprehensive treatment plans that fit the specific needs and treatment goals of the individual. The top addiction treatment programs that provide LGBTQ specialized treatment often show better outcomes when compared to non-specialized programs. They also consider unique needs that may arise out of concerns the individual may have related to seeking treatment as part of the LGBTQ community, such as homophobia, transphobia, violence, social isolation, and family difficulties. 

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Benefits of specialized rehab

How Going to a LGBTQ Substance Abuse Center
Can Help

There are several benefits to going to an LGBTQ alcohol rehab. One of the most significant is comfort and feelings of safety. For someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer to experience success at addiction rehab, it is essential they feel safe and understood. Something as simple as making sure a transgendered individual is housed with their self-identified gender (an option that may not be possible in a traditional rehab setting) can make a crucial difference in the result of their treatment. It is also essential for treatment staff and medical providers at the rehab to be aware of the differences and needs of their patients. At an LGBTQ rehab, understand the particular needs of gay men as compared to lesbian women or bisexual individuals and LGBTQ youth. Again, these are essential nuances to the treatment program that can mean the difference between someone attaining and maintaining long term sobriety and an unsuccessful treatment experience. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has outlined specific LGBTQ treatment approaches in a manual for providers. The manual is designed to help treatment providers better understand the particular needs of the LGBTQ community in the rehab setting and provide programs that are better suited to adequately meet this demographic’s treatment needs and goals. 

At an LGBTQ friendly treatment center, the providers will recognize the factors and treatment elements outlined by SAMHSA and implement them into their treatment programs. Because of this, LGBTQ friendly treatment centers provide more effective treatment protocols to address many LGBTQ specific issues, including:

  • The isolation felt by many in the LGBTQ community 
  • Mistrust of healthcare providers due to ongoing or previous negative experiences
  • How to manage hormone treatments during rehab
  • The emotional and physical challenges faced when someone identifies as LGBTQ
  • The higher incidences of illicit drug and marijuana use among gay men
  • The prevalence of alcohol addiction and binge drinking among lesbian women

These are just a few of the specific concerns that must be addressed for treatment to be a success. 

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How to Find an LGBTQ Friendly Rehab

The understanding of the unique issues faced by members of the LGBTQ community regarding drug and alcohol addiction is growing, albeit slowly. Many treatment centers have begun to develop programs that cater to the specific and unique needs of this population. However, it is not uncommon to run across programs that, despite all good intentions, have built-in bias within their treatment programs. The challenge many LGBTQ individuals face is finding a facility that genuinely caters to and meets the needs of the person seeking to defeat their addiction. 

It is widely recognized that treatments are more likely to result in long term recovery if the person is able to complete treatment. For this to happen, feelings of comfort and safety are crucial. For LGBTQ individuals seeking rehab, it is essential to find a program that understands their particular personal, social, and emotional challenges but also provides essential support they may encounter during and after rehab. Some examples may include discrimination, mental health difficulties, peer pressure (in social circles) and challenges related to gender identity, and disclosing sexual orientation to friends and family.

Addiction is a disease that is unique to the individual, and therefore the most successful programs will be those that take the time to work with their patients and tailor a plan based on their specific addiction and treatment goals. For those who identify as LGBTQ, it is essential to find a program with experience treating those within the LGBTQ community. At our addiction help hotline, we can help you find an LGBTQ treatment center near you. Deciding to go to rehab is scary, but the support and compassion of the team at My Recovery is just a phone call away. Let our caring staff help you take the first step on your sobriety journey today. 

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If you wish to explore additional treatment options or connect with a specific rehab center, you can: browse top-rated listings, visit our homepage, or visit www.samhsa.gov, or by calling 800-662-HELP.