HomeAddictionEvidence-Based Addiction Treatment Approaches for LGBTQ Individuals

Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment Approaches for LGBTQ Individuals

Celebration with rainbow colored flags.

Understanding the social stigmatizing of the LGBTQ community can be a path to healing.

You may have heard the words “evidence-based treatment” when searching for information on healthcare services. What does this mean, and why is it important, especially in the context of LGBTQ addiction? Here’s a closer look at evidence-based addiction treatment for LGBTQ individuals.

What Is Evidence-Based Treatment?

Evidence-based treatment, AKA EBT, refers to “treatments that have been scientifically tested and subjected to clinical judgment and determined to be appropriate for the treatment of a given individual, population, or problem area,” according to the book, Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment by James L. Sorensen, Jennifer E. Hettema and Sandra Larios.

EBT takes into account many different types of evidence, including clinical trials, reviews, and meta-analyses within the context of diverse patient populations. “By illuminating the active ingredients that transcend treatment modalities, researchers have an opportunity to substantially improve all substance abuse treatment approaches,” Sorensen, Hettema, and Larios continue.

Three men sitting in a group having a discussion.

Minority stress is a contributor to LGBTQ addiction and substance abuse.  EBT can help individuals understand this phenomenon to overcome it.

EBT and the LGBTQ Community

“Successful addiction treatment and recovery must address a variety of intra- and interpersonal factors, including coping skills, consequences of substance use, clients’ practical needs, social support, spiritual beliefs, and engagement in mutual self-help organizations,” explains Sorensen, Hettema, and Larios.

While every person is different, certain populations do share commonalities, including LGBTQ individuals struggling with addiction. Not only do members of the LGBTQ community have higher rates of substance abuse and addiction, but they also share many of the environmental factors that predisposed them to these damaging conditions. The good news is that clinicians have also linked several EBT interventions with better outcomes.

Division 12 of the American Psychological Association is a resource dedicated to providing information about effective treatments backed by “best research evidence.” A blog by clinical psychologist John Pachankis, an Associate Professor in the Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology (Social and Behavioral Sciences Division) at the Yale School of Public Health, sets forth several principles for standard practice when addressing the unique treatment needs of LGBTQ individuals, including the following:

  • “Normaliz[ing] the adverse impact of minority stress” to help LGBTQ individuals understand the role of stigma-based stress, as opposed to personal failings, on mental health.
  • Helping LGBTQ people confront their painful minority stressors in a safe environment to reduce “maladaptive forms of cognitive, affective and behavioral avoidance” and its negative impact on mental health.
  • Empowering assertive communication by teaching LGBTQ individuals that they deserve the same rights and opportunities as others.
  • Using cognitive therapy exercises to reduce the impact of minority stress-driven cognitive biases and restructure minority stress cognition to validate the wants, needs, and emotions of LGBTQ individuals to stop internalizing rejection and/or expecting it.
  • Helping LGBTQ individuals understand and appreciate their unique strengths and experiences to validate them.
  • Working with LGBTQ individuals to develop social support systems comprising family, friends, and communities as a defense against minority stress.
  • “Affirm[ing] healthy, rewarding expressions of sexuality” to promote mental, sexual, and behavioral health and well-being.

The takeaway for members of the LGBTQ community and the people who love them? The same factors that contribute to substance abuse, addiction, and mental health issues in this population are instrumental in addressing them via targeted treatment. To learn more about Harris House’s targeted treatment programs for LGBTQ individuals,  contact us today.