Addition to drugs and alcohol is one of the biggest challenges facing people in the US, and in the LGBTQ community, that challenge interacts with all the other stresses and dangers of facing community members. The higher stress levels and the rates of homelessness, family rejection, and other factors mean that LGBTQ individuals are especially vulnerable to addiction as a coping mechanism. Treating addiction for LGBTQ youth and adults requires the right preparation, training, awareness, and experience. Fortunately, an increasing number of rehabilitation centers are coming to grips with this issue and are investing in expanding their resources for the LGBTQ community. There is more and more space, availability, and opportunity for LGBTQ people to feel welcome and supported in rehab.
The LGBTQ community is at elevated risk for several issues like homelessness, social isolation, unemployment, and economic instability. All of those contribute to higher rates of addiction, and they are a community in need of expanded support.
On top of that, the lived experience of LGBTQ individuals means that they might slip through the cracks of traditional outreach efforts. It’s important for rehabilitation and addiction centers to understand that they need to build out their outreach to ensure that LGBTQ clients are not slipping through the cracks. That extends to the intake process as well– developing appropriate and sensitive screening procedures to identify when someone might be in need of LGBTQ resources is a priority to ensure that they get the care and treatment that they need.
All of these risks that build on each other and intersect multiply the odds that an LGBTQ person will struggle with an addiction or dependence problem. Addiction and drug use themselves create additional risks, like acquiring diseases through intravenous drug use and health problems, feeding into a vicious circle. Breaking that circle requires sharp intervention and a broad outreach effort. A rehabilitation center that doesn’t address the interaction of LGBTQ identity and addiction will struggle to make a definitive impact. On the other hand successful integration means a much better impact as well as opportunities for coalition-building for local change.
LGBTQ individuals bring their own history and experiences to treatment. For example, many nonprofits that handle addiction treatment are religiously affiliated, or they employ therapists and counselors who have a religious background and training. That presents a potential barrier when working with LGBTQ individuals because they may have a negative experience with religion stemming from their past. Navigating that requires care and acceptance by the addiction counselor.
Solutions from addiction centers include things like training for their staff to understand the unique complexities of the LGBTQ community, dedicated LGBTQ-friendly staff and resources, and building local connections to LGBTQ centers, nonprofits, and support systems. The availability and appropriateness of each of these depends on the location and size of each rehabilitation center.
Integration into the local community is important for any rehabilitation center, but it’s especially crucial when it comes to LGBTQ-friendly centers. Existing in the world while inhabiting an LGBTQ identity can feel like an uphill battle. A support network of LGBTQ-oriented resources plays a major role in the lives of those who need them because they can deliver a comprehensive and safe spectrum of services and opportunities. A rehabilitation center can be a major link in that chain, so building those local relationships is a key goal.
When it comes to addiction, recovery is a process, and sometimes it can be a long process. Finding the right environment for treatment while dealing with other challenges isn’t easy, but it’s important to get involved with rehabilitation quickly to start healing and get ahead of the risks that accompany addiction.
A good center will treat you with respect and care, and they’ll be able to refer and connect you to other resources to help you manage the risk factors and stressors that led to addiction in the first place. The sooner you start getting support, the sooner your recovery journey can begin. If you or someone that you know is dealing with addiction and would like help, please call us at 844-639-8371 for 24/7 support. It can be the first step in the next chapter of your life.