LGBT individuals have many unique considerations for addiction and recovery. It is difficult enough to recover from substance use, without having membership in one or more additional marginalized populations. We will attempt to shed some light on the unique concerns of LGBT individuals, as well as treatment options.
LGBT Specific Concerns
At bare minimum, having membership to any marginalized population is difficult enough. These individuals will experience oppression, adversity, and microaggressions on a regular basis. Our country has a checkered past with oppression, and the LGBT community has not escaped this. Due to the hard work of those in this community, as well as their allies, much work has been accomplished. However, when you add a layer of substance use on top of this, all of these concerns become exacerbated. There is enough stigma (in some eyes) to being an addict or an LGBT individual, but when you combine this, it becomes a perfect storm of guilt, shame, and secrecy. When you combine this with external oppression such as hate speech, hate crimes, microaggressions, or lack of acceptance, these individuals will be left feeling isolated, alone, and misunderstood. To make matters worse, the individual may have internalized this oppression, and may hate and judge themselves for who they are. This can include self-hatred as a substance abuser, or self-hatred as an LGBT individual. As the individual comes to terms with who they are, they will ultimately have to share this information with friends and loved ones. In this way, LGBT individuals with substance use problems have two coming out processes that they must manage. It may also lead to a lack of acceptance from family, which drags out the process due to a fear of the results. Unfortunately, the individual may lose family and friends, perhaps due to their substance use, or due to their LGBT identification. Regardless, it is something that must be accomplished. Lastly, will the openness of this identity make matters worse if they are a member of a religious denomination that frowns upon LGBT individuals. For these reasons, and many others, it is helpful for LGBT individuals with substance use issues to find treatment and 12-step fellowships that are geared towards this unique population’s issues.
LGBT Specific Treatment and 12-Step Fellowships
Some substance use treatment centers are geared towards specific populations. These centers may be less common than general centers or practices, but they do indeed exist. LGBT specific treatment centers may be a great option for anyone who identifies as an LGBT individual. These centers will have staff that are trained to work with this specific population, and groups will most likely be geared more towards LGBT appropriate material and concerns. LGBT substance use treatment will have plenty in common with non-population specific substance use treatment, but why not focus in on the issues that matter most? Additionally, 12-step fellowships exist that are gender-based, race or ethnicity-based, or LGBT-based. LGBT-based 12-step fellowships provide individuals who identify as LGBT an amazing opportunity to connect with others who understand their unique concerns and can provide guidance into recovery. One addict or alcoholic talking with another is how 12-step recovery occurs, because of the importance of identification. That means, one LGBT alcoholic or addict talking to another will be able to empathize and relate on a deeper level. These LGBT specific treatment centers and 12-step fellowships may not be as readily available, but do not fret. If you cannot find one, everyone can recover at a general substance use treatment center or 12-step fellowship, we just recommend finding one that will be the most useful for you if possible.
If you are having difficulty finding LGBT resources, as previously discussed, feel free to reach out to us. We want to connect you to resources that will be the most helpful for you. We are able to provide counseling that considers your unique LGBT concerns, but we can also connect you with community resources that will empower you to recover. Head on over to our Get Started page and let us know that this is something you would like help with and we will be in touch with you shortly!