LGBTQ+ addiction treatment programs provide a safe and all-inclusive environment to help members of this community begin their journey to recovery. While most of the treatment therapies used are similar to regular treatment programs, these specialized programs take into consideration the specific needs of this community.
Addiction is a disease of the mind and body that affects individuals of any race, gender, sexuality, class, or cultural background. Many factors come into play when considering the development of addiction, including genetics, environment, mental health conditions, and using substances at an early age. Additionally, experiencing hardships such as traumatic experiences or issues such as societal discrimination can play a part in the development of addiction. Therefore, communities such as the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to develop substance use disorders than the general population.
Fortunately, due to the discovery of the prevalence of addiction in the LGBTQ+ community, specialized treatment centers have been created in order to suit this community’s needs effectively. LGBTQ-specific addiction treatment programs are designed to be sensitive to the needs of this community’s members while addressing any underlying causes of addiction.
Because of the unique hardships many of these individuals face, individualized treatment is vital in their recovery process. In fact, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has stated that specialized LGBTQ+ addiction treatment produces better outcomes for those patients in comparison to unspecialized programs. As a result of attending LGBTQ-specific rehab patients will be able to address unique factors such as homophobia/transphobia, family issues, violence, and social isolation.
Risk Factors for Addiction Specific to the LGBTQ+ Community
There are many risk factors that are associated with substance abuse and addiction among the LGBTQ+ community. Let’s look at a few of the most common.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community statistically face higher levels of stress than the general population. While progress has been made in the LGBTQ+ rights movement, many members of this community continually face social prejudice. For example, members of this community often face discriminatory laws and practices in employment, relationship recognition, healthcare, and housing, as well as stigmas and challenges with their families and friends. Dealing with these issues can lead to higher levels of anxiety, isolation, fear, depression, anger, and mistrust. As a result, these individuals face a greater risk of self-medicating through the use of alcohol or illicit substances.
While modern society is generally becoming increasingly accepting of LGBTQ+ individuals and their culture, some individuals suffer from internalized homophobia/transphobia. This term is defined as the act of an individual accepting sexual or gender stigma and discrimination as a part of their own personal identity and self-perception. For example, someone suffering from internalized homophobia may feel as if being homosexual is inherently wrong – even though this is far from the truth.
Experiencing internalized homophobia or transphobia can result in self-loathing and increase the risk of substance abuse. This is because an individual may use substances in order to come to terms with their sexual or gender identity, increasing their risk for developing an addiction. As a result of using substances in order to accept one’s identity, they experience a double-reward effect. To explain, the user will experience a chemical high as well as an emotional high due to being able to accept themselves. As a result, addiction is likely to develop.
Since members of the LGBTQ+ community experience higher levels of stress and familial issues, experiencing anxiety and depression are likely. As a result, these individuals may develop mood disorders, eating disorders, or other mental health conditions. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), members of the LGBTQ+ community are 3x more likely to experience mental health conditions than their heterosexual or gender-normative counterparts. Experiencing the symptoms of untreated mental health conditions can lead individuals to self-medicate. Therefore, the prevalence of co-occurring disorders in the LGBTQ+ contributes to the likeliness of addiction.
LGBTQ+ Addiction Prevalence and Statistics
As previously stated, members of the LGBTQ+ community face an increased risk for addiction in comparison to other demographic groups. In fact, the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health has reported that adults who identify as gender or sexual minorities are twice as more likely to abuse substances when compared to heterosexual adults. Additionally, lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents have been found to be 90% more likely to abuse substances than heterosexual adolescents. Therefore, the prevalence of addiction in the LGBTQ+ community has been found to be high. However, individuals of this community can recover at a substantially positive rate when they utilize LGBTQ-specific addiction treatment programs.
When compared to the general population, the following trends have been found in the LGBTQ+ community regarding addiction rates:
- 25 percent of gay and transgender people abuse alcohol, compared to 5-10 percent of the general population
- Gay and transgender people are 200 times more likely to smoke tobacco than their heterosexual counterparts
- Gay men are 3.5 times more likely to smoke marijuana than straight men
- Gay men are 12.2 times more likely to abuse amphetamines than straight men
- Also, gay men are 9.5 times more likely to use heroin than straight men
LGBTQ+ Addiction Treatment Programs
Due to the prevalence of addiction in the LGBTQ+ community, treatment centers have begun to create specialized and inclusive LGBTQ-specific programs. These drug and alcohol rehab programs prioritize the specific needs of LGBTQ+ people with substance use disorders. To explain, the self-hatred, harassment, and lack of acceptance that members of this community face are acknowledged during addiction therapy. In doing so, members of the LGBTQ+ community are able to address the core issues that contributed to the development of their substance use disorder. In order for better understanding, the following will outline important factors of LGBTQ+ addiction treatment.
Important aspects of treating LGBTQ+ drug and alcohol addiction:
- Compassionate staff who are knowledgable on LGBTQ+ discrimination
- Awareness of homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, etc.
- Knowledge of managing hormonal therapies for transgender patients
- Therapists with experience in addressing the hardships that members of the LGBTQ+ face, especially during their youth
- The option for transgender individuals to reside on-site according to their gender identity
- Personalized treatment plans for each individual patient
- Taking co-occurring disorders into consideration and providing medication when necessary
- Providing testing for diseases like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, and C that can be sexually or intravenously contracted
- Proper aftercare and relapse prevention planning that takes the patient’s lifestyle, gender, and sexual identity into consideration
If you or a loved one are a member of the LGBTQ+ community and suffer from addiction or alcoholism, recovery is possible. While attending substance abuse treatment is difficult for anyone, PAX Riverbend acknowledges the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community. Through addressing person history, our treatment center ensures that each patient is effectively supported and cared for based upon personal needs.
If you would like to begin a new way of life and create a strong foundation of recovery, give us a call today to learn more about our treatment programs.