Just as every individual’s path to addiction is different, so is every individual’s path to sobriety. Despite these differences, however, many common obstacles occur along the way. In addition to the usual set of potential pitfalls, members of the LGBT community may face even more challenges than their heterosexual counterparts. Read on for a look at what LGBT addiction recovery encompasses.
1. They have a higher risk of addiction.
A number of factors, including everything from social pressure to discrimination, increase the risk of gay addiction. Many members of the LGBT community end up relying on drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. Alienation from friends and family members can add to an addict’s emotional distress, increasing the risk of mental health issues and addiction.
2. They’re less likely to seek out the care they need.
Unfortunately, a very small percentage of addicts get the treatment they need for drug and alcohol addiction. The percentage drops even lower for traditionally marginalized groups, like the LGBT community.
Experts attribute this to several causes, including prior poor experiences with healthcare professionals, lack of support and encouragement from a personal support network, and mental health issues. Amidst these many challenges and during active addiction, the concept of pursuing treatment may be difficult to grasp.
3. They are less likely to have insurance.
Many private, for-profit healthcare facilities are expensive and/or don’t cover substance abuse treatment. Factor in that LGBT individuals are less likely to be insured than non-LGBT individuals, and the financial challenges of going to rehab are insurmountable for many members of the community.
4. They may have fewer financial resources.
There’s no denying that members of the LGBT community face discrimination throughout their lives. This can play out in far-reaching ways, including when it comes to salaries. In fact, according to a report from the Williams Institute at the University of California School of Law, LGBT people earn less than their straight peers.
Not only that, but they also face high poverty and unemployment rates. Due to this lack of financial resources, they may be unable to afford effective drug and alcohol treatment programs.
5. There’s a dearth of facilities aimed at treating LGBT addiction recovery.
A growing body of evidence points to the value of substance abuse treatment for addicts. However, not all substance abuse programs are created equal. LGBT community members, in particular, require different approaches to treatment than conventional programs.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA),
“Treatment varies depending on the type of drug and the characteristics of the patients. Matching treatment settings, interventions, and services to an individual’s particular problems and needs is critical to his or her ultimate success in returning to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and society. To be effective, treatment must address the individual’s drug abuse and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems. It is also important that treatment be appropriate to the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.”
The takeaway? Addressing LGBT addicts’ gender and culture during treatment is essential, and many programs and their clinicians and caregivers fall short in this respect.
6. They may also lack family support.
According to NIDA, “Behavioral therapy is a part of treatment, and this includes family counseling, peer support, and group therapy.”
Unfortunately, family therapy may present unique challenges to LGBT addicts, who may be estranged or distant from loved ones. At the same time, the group therapy component may not be appropriate or useful if group members can’t relate to each others’ experiences and provide adequate peer support.
Substance addiction is a complex disease with complex solutions. Within the LGBT community, the complexities grow even more; however, this doesn’t mean addiction recovery isn’t within the reach of LGBT individuals.
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Contact us today to learn more about how Harris House’s substance abuse rehab program offers the expertise, facilities, and caring staff necessary to best support individuals throughout LGBT addiction recovery.