LGBTQIA+ Friendly Drug And Alcohol Rehab Centers

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported in October 2016 that their National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found 4.3 percent of the adult population within the United States consider themselves to be either gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

The Williams Institute reports that roughly 0.06 percent of U.S. adults, or 1.4 million Americans, identify as transgender.

While confronting challenges that heterosexual individuals do not face, the LGBTQIA+ person has an entirely different set of internal, which will make treatment needs in addiction different than they would be for other individuals.

Addiction Risk Factors For LGBTQIA+ Community

LGBTQIA+ individuals may face challenges on a daily basis, struggling with emotional and mental health challenges. Even though public support and acceptance has dramatically increased in recent years, many individuals still face a discrepancy in the way they are treated in their day-to-day experiences, in comparison to heterosexuals.

In fact, LGBTQIA+ individuals face a unique set of risk factors which must be considered as a person seeks and encounters treatment.

In Youth

LGBTQIA+ youth are at a greater risk of experiencing emotional and mental duress. One publication by the U.S. National Library of Medicine wrote that these youth experience “elevated rates of emotional distress, symptoms related to mood and anxiety disorders, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behavior.”

A specific study from Australia cited by this source found that these youth “experienced more major depression, generalized anxiety disorders, substance abuse/dependence, and comorbid diagnoses.” Mental health disorders and emotional dysregulation are often linked to substance abuse.

Minority Stress Theory

This term refers to the often constant and long-term stressors that LGBTQIA+ individuals encounter, starting even at young ages; it is also termed “LGBT-related stress.” Stigma, prejudice, homophobia, victimization, bullying, and discrimination may impede or negatively affect the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals, altering their life experiences. On top of this, the expectation of these things happening creates yet more fear, set against stress of either hiding or coming out with their orientation.

Many of these individuals begin to manifest serious mental health disorders, which may lead them to other harmful scenarios, including suicidal ideation, homelessness, and substance abuse or addiction.

Mental Illness

This community witnesses higher instances of some mental illnesses, as certain issues and stressors are more present within the LGBTQIA+ population.

NAMI reports that “LGBT individuals are almost 3 times more likely than others to experience a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder.” Mental health concerns go beyond these, including a higher risk of bipolar disorder occurring in gay and bisexual men. SAMHSA found that lesbian women suffer from simple phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder more than the general public.

Trauma

Instances of trauma are altogether too high within this population. LGBTQIA+ individuals may have been the victim of a domestic violent crime or hate crime, events that may drastically influence their mental and emotional state, and treatment.

In addition, for those who struggled during childhood or within their youth, they may have also experienced sexual, physical, emotional, or mental abuse. This abuse may also occur as an adult, which may push a person towards drugs or alcohol. Studies show that childhood abuse increases a person’s risk towards developing substance abuse or addiction. Lesbian women are shown to experience a specific risk, as they are likely to have experienced abuse or punitive actions from parents as a result of sexual orientation.

Transgender individuals may experience trauma in a greater capacity than other individuals within this population, which may affect their ability to seek and complete addiction recovery treatment. SAMHSA reports of transgender individuals, “that more than 50% have experienced some type of harassment or violence, or both, during their lives, and 25% reported experiencing a physically violent incident.”

Suicide

Suicide attempts are a deep concern with LGBTQIA+ youth. The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that 31 percent of LGBTQIA+ youth reported having had suicidal behaviors within the course of their life.

Another high-risk population are transgender individuals of any age. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found a 41 percent rate of suicide attempts, which is nearly 10 times higher than the national average of 4.6 percent (over the course of a person’s lifetime). Also lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals had a 10 to 20 percent chance.

%

Reported Having Suicidal Behaviors

Homelessness

Homelessness in LGBTQIA+ youth is far too prevalent. The National LGBT Task Force tells us that up to 40% of runaway or homeless youth identify as LGBT.

Adults are not immune from this concern. Homelessness has been a concern to almost one in five transgendered individuals. The National Coalition for the Homeless writes that “43% of clients served by drop-in centers…30% of street outreach clients…and 30% of clients utilizing housing programs identified as LGBT.” Individuals in rehab often require assistance finding safe and stable housing options.

Each of these concerns puts a person at greater risk of developing a substance use disorder. People who start drinking alcohol as youth have a higher risk of developing an alcohol addiction later in life, and people who use drugs at this age also experience an increased danger of having issues of abuse and addiction as adults.

Suicidal ideation often creates these issues, and use of these substances can also perpetuate these thoughts. Homelessness is a known factor in contributing to substance abuse, as well as also being caused from it in certain cases.

LGBTQIA+ Drug And Alcohol Abuse

LGBTQIA+ persons are known to have higher rates of alcohol consumption and substance abuse. The SAMHSA report found that adults who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual (referred to as sexual minority adults) had a much higher rate of substance use and mental illness than the heterosexual adult.

Specifically, “Sexual minority adults were also more likely than sexual majority adults to have substance use disorders in the past year, including disorders related to their use of alcohol, illicit drugs, marijuana, or misuse of pain relievers.”

Within the NSDUH findings, SAMHSA reported on the following:

Tobacco

Despite the fact that sexual minority adults reported higher past month use (32.2 percent in comparison to 20.6 percent for heterosexuals), their daily use was lower than their heterosexual counterparts, by 8 percent. However, the daily rate was still high, with 51.6 percent of sexual minority adults smoking. Countering this, however, other reports show smoking rates for LGBTQIA+ individuals to be almost double the amount of heterosexuals.

Alcohol

SAMHSA reports that sexual minority adults cite higher rates of past-month drinking, of a 7.5 percent difference (63.6 percent compared to 56.2 percent). Sexual minority females saw higher risks, exhibiting increased rates of current, binge, and heavy drinking. Sexual minority males were actually similar to the heterosexual statistics.

In terms of alcohol abuse as a whole, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports a quarter of LGBTQIA+ individuals struggle, in comparison to only five to 10 percent of the general population.

Illicit Drug Use

This is the highest percentage difference among the categories surveyed, with SAMHSA reporting that 39.1 percent of sexual minority individuals were found to have used illicit drugs in the past year, in comparison to 17.1 percent of the heterosexual population surveyed.

Certain drugs of abuse rank higher within this population, with marijuana use ranking highest, at nearly a third (30.7 percent). The top 10 illicit drugs used within the past year as reported by SAMHSA include:

  • Marijuana 30.7%
  • Misuse Of Prescription Painkillers 10.4%
  • Misuse Of Prescription Tranquilizers 5.9%
  • Cocaine 5.1%
  • Hallucinogens 5.0%
  • Misuse Of Prescription Stimulants 4.2%
  • Inhalants 3.7%
  • Methamphetamine 2.3%
  • Misuse Of Prescription Sedatives 1.2%
  • Heroin 0.9%

These numbers reflect past-year use, not necessarily patterns of abuse. Use and misuse of illicit drugs, in any capacity, has a strong likelihood of leading to a greater form of drug abuse, and an increased risk of developing addiction.

What Is Needed For The LGBTQIA+ Community?

In order to decrease instances of substance abuse and addiction within this community, stronger preventative measures need to be put in place alongside of greater education, resources, and treatment. Fortunately, momentum in these aspects has been great, and today a variety of options exist. In order to better understand the direction this care needs to take, we will speak of specific concerns that individuals, their loved ones, and providers need to be mindful of when seeking and implementing treatment.

In Youth And Adolescents
As we’ve witnessed, LGBTQIA+ individuals within this age are already faced with extensive measures of mental and emotional strife, including increased risks of substance abuse. Again, individuals within this age bracket that begin using drugs or alcohol experience a greater likelihood of a problem during adulthood. In order to counter the various risk factors that these youth face, we must be conscientious about providing them with preventative measures.

Getting information on sexual orientation and gender identity to parents and caregivers, within early childhood development, can help the overall health of these LGBTQIA+ children and adolescents. Helping parents and caregivers to support their LGBTQIA+ children will give further clarity and insight, increasing the overall health and protection of these individuals before they reach out to substances. Rejection from family creates grave health concerns with LGBTQIA+ children and adolescents, including increased risks of substance abuse.

Transgender Individuals
Individuals within this group have certain needs that need to be addressed both within individual counseling sessions and treatment as a whole, in order to ensure that treatment is effective and sensitive with lasting results. These individuals may have trauma in their life, as many others within the LGBTQIA+ community, however certain concerns may be higher. For instance, the provider’s resource we spoke of earlier notes that transgender individuals may “have been prostitutes or sex workers, resulting in clinical issues that can also block recovery if they are not adequately addressed.”

Within their treatment, a transgender person may require that certain needs be addressed. Some of these individuals may be transitioning, and they may be taking hormone therapies; this warrants greater medical support and attention, and also increased mental support during this time. Staff needs to be mindful of sleeping or bathroom arrangements, as these individuals may desire certain care or access that is not present in every facility. Lastly, transgender persons may desire a certain pronoun to be used, thus providers need to be conscientious and open to this. All of these issues must be brought to light, in order to help a transgender person towards feeling the comfort, acceptance, and attention that is needed for positive transformation within treatment.

Consideration Of Co-Occurring Disorders
As we’ve outlined, mental illness within LGBTQIA+ groups is of significant concern and prevalence. Whether it be depression, anxiety, PTSD, trauma, or other concerns, care needs to be specific to each within the spectrum of substance abuse treatment. Trauma is of immense concern, as the specific history and nature of the event(s) may alter and even impede treatment for some. Due to this, providers within a good program will thoroughly assess this and any other mental health disorders, in order to fully embrace each client and adapt to their unique needs.

To reiterate, mental health disorders put any person at greater risk of developing a substance use disorder. Paired with the variety of other daunting concerns this population may face, this risk is even more worrisome. Substance abuse and addiction may also aggravate an existing mental health condition, or in some cases, precipitate one, giving even more urgency to the importance of accessible dual diagnosis care that takes into account this population’s unique needs, perspectives, and varied histories.

Embodying Sensitivity
A treatment program should be sensitive to the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of the individual. Every staff member that encounters these individuals will need to understand the background of the client’s feelings about his or her sexual identity and/or gender preference paired with LGBTQIA+ issues. In order to increase the inclusive and welcoming nature of treatment, a good program should also employ LGBTQIA+ individuals to offer greater empathy and shared experiences, both of which can make a vast difference within treatment.

The LGBTQIA+ client may hold deep feelings and negative attitudes, such as feelings of fear, confusion, doubt, or sadness from the rejection, insensitivity, and discrimination they’ve faced within their life. Due in part to this, they may distrust or feel uncomfortable with health care professionals. To balance this, treatment may require even greater sensitivity, patience, and individualized care from the substance abuse treatment provider, versus what is typical within general treatment.

Breaking Down Barriers
Effective and compassionate care must be made even more accessible. To break down the barriers between client and counselor, the issues we’ve discussed must be addressed for the individual to firstly gain help, and secondly glean the full benefit of treatment. Allowing for groups to be inclusive, so that the LGBTQIA+ client will feel safe in openly discussing his or her needs, is of utmost concern.

Rehab may occur within a facility that is LGBTQIA+only, or in a program that has designed a specific treatment approach for this population. In optimal cases, through guidance of a trained and educated staff, LGBTQIA+ clients may have a powerful encounter of gaining love, support, and acceptance from both their LGBTQIA+ and non-LGBTQIA+ peers alike.

All questions and interactions geared toward the LGBTQIA+ client should be met with sensitivity and compassion. A snide, insensitive, or careless remark toward a LGBTQIA+ person can have devastating repercussions. A counselor must carefully uncover the specific needs of each of their clients, or they may miss a key factor that is essential in creating a positive and safe atmosphere. All of these issues need to be brought into light to help bring sobriety and recovery goals closer.

Family Support And Therapy
Access to this care is essential in both youth and adult populations. Due to the varied, and at times complicated history that is associated with this lifestyle, especially situations that may have surrounded coming out, LGBTQIA+ people can greatly benefit from the additional support of integrated family therapy and counseling, should they choose. In addition to helping them learn better coping and interpersonal skills that may be useful with their family, these programs will strengthen their family in better supporting them during their recovery journey.

Acknowledging and understanding what could be many potential and multifaceted differences within family relations are key to helping a LGBTQIA+ individual recover. Integrating the external concerns and unique challenges same-sex couples face is also needed. Many of these clients will have children, either through a previous heterosexual marriage, or with their current partner through adoption, a sperm donor, or other means. This also provides certain challenges that impact an individual, thus, some individuals may require help with their parenting issues as well.

Consideration Of Health Issues
Due to the perceived stigma and discrimination of LGBTQIA+ individuals, many clients may have long avoided treatment and neglected their health. Since some of the mental and physical health concerns are sensitive to a LGBTQIA+ person, they may shy away from a typical health care provider. Thus, these individuals may neglect their needs, resulting in a late diagnosis and incomplete treatment. Good treatment should help a person in learning how to reinvest in their self-care and address any issues that are specific to their lifestyle choices.

When entering into treatment, a LGBTQIA+ person may face a variety of health issues. As with any substance abuse treatment, these individuals need to be screened for other health problems. Like many clients in recovery from substance abuse, a LGBTQIA+ person may face a co-occurring mental health disorder that impacts their physical health as well, such as an eating disorder or instances of self-harm. Treatment that is adept at addressing both the physical aspects and mental ramifications of these concerns is essential.

Abusing substances can lead to other health risks. Due to the lifestyle of some within the LGBTQIA+ community, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C may be more prevalent, these concerns are further compounded by various drugs of abuse which also increase these risks. Substance abuse may lead to, or aggravate existing health conditions, including malnourishment, a weakened immune system, and a variety of illness and disease. For all of these reasons, a good treatment facility should be able to concurrently address these issues as well.

Aftercare Support And Relapse Prevention
These aspects of treatment and continued support are crucial for any person, however, they may be even more critical for an LGBTQIA+ individual. Aftercare support and relapse prevention help to further strengthen a person within their recovery and prepare them for the life they face after treatment. To protect these individuals from relapsing, a prevention plan, coping skills, and thorough understanding of the varied life of a LGBTQIA+ person after rehab should be addressed.

For a heterosexual individual, many of the concerns that aggravated substance abuse or addiction may have been treated prior to, or during treatment, however, due to the nature of an LGBTQIA+ lifestyle, these individuals may yet encounter an excess of struggles, challenges, and stressors after treatment that a heterosexual person does not. Aftercare support can offer priceless outreach and connect a person to various support groups that may help them during this time.

Support Groups
Support groups are very commonly referred to both within treatment, and after, during recovery. Their necessity may be of even greater import for the LGBTQIA+ community. In addition to providing drug and alcohol support, these groups may support individuals in the unique concerns and journeys that face LGBTQIA+ persons on a day-to-day basis. Increasing access to support groups that offer substance abuse support paired with an inclusive LGBTQIA+ focus can make this care even more effective. These groups may be either 12 step or non 12 step, and follow any number of faith-based or secular perspectives.

Delivering Effective And Compassionate Treatment

As we’ve illustrated, the treatment needs for the LGBTQIA+ community are as diverse and varied as the individuals within it. Due to these numerous, and many times intense needs, effective and compassionate evidence-based treatment is necessary, to the extent that the NSDUH review tells us that the sexual minority population had a greater need of treatment overall than did heterosexuals.

The numbers speak for themselves—the review continues, telling us that 1.7 million sexual minority adults needed treatment, and that only 340,000 individuals received it. Keep in mind, this number doesn’t include transgender individuals, so the number for the community as a whole would be even larger. It is important to note, that even within the heterosexual population, there is a huge discrepancy within these numbers. The good news is that the review wrote that sexual minority persons were more inclined than the heterosexual adult to get the needed treatment for mental illness and/or substance use disorders.

Depending on the scope of abuse, and presence of any co-occurring disorders or other health and medical concerns, a person may need either outpatient or inpatient drug rehab. Oftentimes, in more severe cases, either in terms of abuse and/or these dual diagnosis concerns, a residential inpatient program is the best option to deliver more thorough and intensive treatment and support. This allows a person to spend ample time having their co-occurring disorders treated as well.

Another positive to inpatient treatment, is that it allows a person to step away from the demands and challenges of their life—of which for LGBTQIA+ individuals there may be many—to focus entirely on their treatment. Some programs even allow you to travel out of state to unique locations, to provide you with even greater distance and privacy.

Again, a person may seek an LGBTQIA+ only program, or another program that is well-versed towards offering compassionate, inclusive LGBTQIA+ friendly care. The choice is dependent on a person’s life circumstances, notably including the variety of concerns and struggles we’ve noted here. The spectrum of options vary from luxury rehabs to executive programs that offer people the benefit of being able to stay in touch with the demands of their career.

How To Find A LGBTQIA+ Friendly Rehab Center

More and more drug and alcohol rehab centers recognize the challenges and barriers to treatment experienced by members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and work to provide the care and support these individuals need to succeed in recovery. For individuals seeking treatment, the main goal is to find a LGBTQIA+ friendly rehab center which meets the specific needs of the individual.

For LGBTQIA+ individuals, it is important when seeking drug or alcohol rehab to make sure the rehab center of choice is experienced in dealing with the unique barriers to treatment, challenges, and the issues many members of this community face, including:

  • Anxiety or depression as a result of guilt
  • Coming out—how to handle it and acceptance of self
  • Discrimination
  • Peer pressure, and how to handle it

Treatment needs vary, but the most effective treatment methods among all demographics remain medically-supervised detoxification and inpatient drug rehab programs. Together, these programs assist individuals who are dependent on drugs or alcohol, and/or have co-occurring mental health disorders, to overcome substance abuse, learn to deal with triggers, prevent relapse, build skills and change behavior in a way that will foster long-term recovery.

The best LGBTQIA+ friendly rehab centers will provide access to such programs. While not every addicted individual will need to undergo detoxification, many will. In looking for a superb rehab center, it is best to find one that offers both medical detox and a variety of treatment methods. Addiction affects all aspects of health, so treatment must work to improve the individual as a whole.

Questions To Ask Of A LGBTQIA+ Friendly Rehab Center

Know The Right Questions To Ask A LGBTQIA+ Friendly Rehab Center

Finding a drug or alcohol rehab center experienced in treating the complex challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ members may be difficult at first.

Here are some questions to ask of potential LGBTQIA+ friendly rehab centers:

u

What are your treatment success rates?

u

How do you handle incidents of discrimination in your facility?

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Are your treatment specialists trained in issues faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals?

u

Are LGBTQIA+ clients separated from other clients during treatment?

u

Ask about confidentiality policies—will sexual orientation be reported in any way?

(i.e. to an employer or to state records)

Treatment needs vary, but the most effective treatment methods among all demographics remain medically-supervised detoxification and inpatient drug rehab programs. Together, these programs assist individuals who are dependent on drugs or alcohol, and/or have co-occurring mental health disorders, to overcome substance abuse, learn to deal with triggers, prevent relapse, build skills and change behavior in a way that will foster long-term recovery.

The best LGBTQIA+ friendly rehab centers will provide access to such programs. While not every addicted individual will need to undergo detoxification, many will. In looking for a superb rehab center, it is best to find one that offers both medical detox and a variety of treatment methods. Addiction affects all aspects of health, so treatment must work to improve the individual as a whole.

LGBTQIA+ Residential Treatment

Due to the numerous and intense needs within treatment for LGBTQIA+ individuals, effective and compassionate, evidence-based treatment is necessary.

Depending on the scope of abuse, and presence of any co-occurring disorders or other health and medical concerns, a person may need either outpatient or inpatient (residential) drug rehab. In more severe cases of addiction or dual diagnosis, a residential inpatient program is the best option to deliver more thorough and intensive treatment and support.

This type of program allows a person to step away from the demands and challenges of their life to focus entirely on their treatment. Some programs even allow clients to travel out of state to unique locations, to provide them with even greater solitude and privacy.

A person may seek an LGBTQIA+ program, or another program that is well-versed towards offering compassionate, inclusive LGBTQIA+ friendly care. The choice is dependent on a person’s life circumstances. The spectrum of options vary from luxury rehabs to executive programs that offer people the benefit of being able to stay in touch with the demands of their career.

LGBTQIA+ Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance abuse treatment methods for the LGBTQIA+ community may include individual, group, or family therapies as well as a variety of other methods that vary by facility. First, a person may have to undergo a medical detox. Common therapies include, but are not limited to:

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

This method allows caregivers and staff to thoughtfully assess a person’s situation, while allowing for a non-confrontational approach based on empathetic and reflective listening. MI acknowledges that a person has the internal directive and ability to change, and will help a person towards find and embrace this power for positive transformation.

Motivational Interviewing acknowledges that a person has the internal directive and ability to change.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

A type of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, this approach has been shown to be highly effective in treating a variety of addictions and co-occurring disorders. Within these sessions, a person will learn to identify negative and harmful thought patterns, empower themselves toward making positive changes to their behavior, while reacting in a more healthy way to the challenges of their life.

 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of psychotherapy shown to be highly effective in treating addiction and co-occurring disorder.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

This therapy helps a person toward both accepting their circumstances and creating the motivation for change. Through DBT sessions, you will learn to work through thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in way that helps you isolate and change maladaptive patterns. DBT also teaches coping skills to more effectively handle the challenges presented by rehab and recovery.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy helps a person toward both accepting their circumstances and creating the motivation for change.

Medication-Assisted Therapies

Medication-assisted treatment may utilize any of the above therapeutic methods, or others, along with various medications. These medications may be used within a medically-supervised detox to control or alleviate symptoms of withdrawal, including cravings. Other medications may be used to treat additional conditions, such as symptoms of various co-occurring disorders like anxiety or depression.

Medications used within a medically-supervised detox help control or alleviate symptoms of withdrawal.

Begin Anew, Find Solace, And Seek Help

Beyond these options, many facilities offer exciting and dynamic alternative therapeutic methods. These may include nutritional support, adventure or wilderness therapy, holistic therapies (yoga, massage, acupuncture, and Reiki), equine therapy, and art therapy.

Offering an individual a level of comfort, experience, and a staff that are experienced in LGBTQIA+ needs and concerns will help bring about faster recovery and lasting success.

To learn more about LGBTQIA+ friendly drug and alcohol rehab centers, contact us today at RehabCenter.net.

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