The Struggles of Addiction Recovery for the LGBT Community

The LGBT community has a different motivation for doing drugs or alcohol compared to the average patient. Theirs come from a place of fear and rejection. Every day, they are subjected to discrimination, bullying, homophobia, denunciation, and prejudice from their own facility and society at large.

This is the reason why the LGBT community records a higher number of incidence of substance abuse compared to straight individuals.

For instance, reports say that as much as 30% of homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgenders have a substance abuse problem. In comparison, only nine percent of the general population struggles with addiction.

The stress of the daily constant struggle within themselves and their environment is enough to drive some people to drugs and alcohol in order to numb their pain. The system itself is geared toward alienating them further.

25% of the LGBT community abuse alcohol compared to just 10% of heterosexuals.

Reasons Why Substance Abuse is Higher Among the LGBT Community

Minority stress is defined as the negative outcome that comes with the difficult social conditions that an individual faces. Minority stress is certainly not the exclusive domain of the LGBT community. But they are among the most discriminated groups in the world because the violence they encounter is pervasive. You can add to this the biases in the laws, social customs, and government policies that hinder their progress.

Society also frowns upon the sexual orientation as something of an anomaly that can be corrected. It’s the same prejudice that society has on alcohol and drug abuse. These prejudices manifest themselves in many ways where violence is not uncommon. The discrimination also extends to the workplace.

For instance, the Center for American Progress reported that 9 in 10 transgender persons are being maltreated or harassed at the worksite. Meanwhile, as much as 43% of homosexuals also report harassment on the job.

About 17% of LGBT members were either not accepted for a job because of their sexual orientation or were terminated for the same reason. Between 10% and 28% did not get promoted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

All these add to the stress of dealing with their own problems outside of their gender identity and sexual orientation. It’s no wonder, therefore, that they turn to drugs and alcohol as an escape.

What are the Addiction Recovery Hurdles for the LGBT Community?

It’s not that the system is designed to make the members of the LGBT community fail the addiction recovery. However, it can’t be denied that there are some hurdles—both internal and external in nature–they need to overcome to avoid relapsing.

For instance, the stigma now doubles. Not only do they fear being ridiculed for their sexual orientation, there’s also the perceived disgrace of being sent to the rehab center for their drug and alcohol addiction, as well.

These are not exclusive to them, of course, but the risks are much higher.

Outside of their perceived fears, there is also a dearth in support system dedicated to providing their unique needs. It should be noted, however, that LGBT after-care support systems do exist but there is not enough of them out there.

Acceptance from the family is crucial to recovery. The family unit is their first refuge when they go out. The likelihood of relapse will be higher for homosexuals and transgenders who will go back to the same issues and challenges when they leave the safe confines of the treatment facility.

What Should You Expect from LGBT-Friendly Treatment Facilities?

Addiction recovery needs an inordinate amount of trust between the patient and the therapist. This trust extends to the dynamics between the patient and the alcohol or drug rehab, as well.

The patients need to be comfortable in the environment that they are in. Some members of the LGBT community may insist on a dedicated program for their unique needs.

This reaction can hardly be faulted considering all the ridicule and bullying they face outside. They just don’t want to be bullied again inside the treatment facility. They also don’t want to be subjected to the same discrimination that they are subjected to every day.

The LGBT-friendly drug rehab, for instance, will have gender-neutral bathrooms. With standard rehab, the toilet facilities are clearly demarcated could be a problem for some. How can a transgender feel safe when the rehab facility is already discriminating against her or his own needs?

The staff and personnel are also trained to be more sensitive to the cultural, sexual, and health issues surrounding the LGBT community. Knowledge about their issues is one thing, compassion is another thing altogether.

Nevertheless, you will still undergo medical detox as part of your treatment. This will allow you to manage the withdrawal symptoms while your body flushes out all the toxins. After which, counseling and therapy sessions will ensue.

However, there are some variations in the way therapy sessions are conducted in the LGBT-friendly facilities compared to traditional rehab.

Questions to Ask from the Rehab Center

Among the issues that will be tackled are:

1. Your sexual orientation and your own personal complexes

2. Mental health disorders as a result of the sexual orientation

3. Acceptance and forgiveness

4. Relationship with family, friends, relatives, etc.

5. Discrimination and bullying, and ways to cope

6. Reasons why so many of the LGBT members are sinking deep into addiction

Here are some of the questions you may ask of the rehab facility:

1. Is the program designed for the unique issues surrounding LGBT?

2. Is the program open to other patients aside from the LGBT community?

3. Is medical care adequate to address my own the health needs?

4. Does the rehab treatment facility have a relapse prevention program?

5. Do you have after-care support programs designed for the LGBT?

6. Can you link me with other LGBT members with similar experiences but successfully became sober?

In essence, LGBT-friendly rehab facilities will increase the success of LGBT addiction recovery. There’s nobody more equipped to better understand them, be more compassionate, and help them on their path to sobriety.


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