Exploring Treatment Options for the LGBTQ CommunityJune 12, 2019
Every June, the lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer community – and the friends and family members who love and support them – celebrate Pride Month. And, though communities worldwide have made progress in supporting LGBTQ people, it seems we often take two steps back for every step we take forward.
In the U.S., the American Psychological Association did not remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual until 1973. In the decades since then, the stigma attached to people with a non-heterosexual orientation has been gradually fading. Unfortunately, our LGBTQ neighbors, family members and friends remain at a significantly higher risk of substance misuse and co-occurring mental health disorders, which may lead to them requiring treatment options that take their unique needs into account.
Why Is the LGBTQ Community So Vulnerable to These Issues?
As the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports, the incidence of behavioral health issues like substance abuse is higher among members of the LGBTQ community than it is in many other segments of the population.
Many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a misguided coping mechanism when they feel tense or stressed out. LGBTQ individuals are more likely to deal with stress than those who identify as heterosexual and cisgendered. Stressful circumstances they might regularly encounter include:
- Deciding whether, how and to whom they can come out
- Becoming estranged from formerly close friends and family members
- Being targets of harassment, bullying and discrimination in social and work situations
- Feeling alone and different
- Internalized shame or self-loathing
Stress also causes mental illness to flare up, which, in turn, can fuel the cycle of substance misuse. LGBTQ individuals are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental health disorders. They are also more likely to consider or attempt suicide.
Encouraging Your Loved One to Seek Treatment
If someone you care about is losing control of their life due to substance misuse and co-occurring mental or behavioral health disorders, don’t wait to get them the help they need to make a full recovery. One of the first things you should consider when you are thinking about how to convince your loved one to enter treatment is that members of the LGBTQ community often have different needs for addiction rehabilitation. They also often feel reluctant to seek addiction treatment for fear of facing discrimination or judgment from people who do not understand their unique struggles.
Not all rehabilitation facilities have the specialized experience and training to address the specific issues of addiction and co-occurring disorders in the LGBTQ community. Being among people who share the same gender identity or sexual orientation can help recovering addicts feel safe and supported, greatly improving the chances of successful recovery. You’ll need to research addiction centers that can cater to your loved one’s needs before presenting them with options.
Whitman Recovery Service – Your Partner in Helping Someone You Care About
If you are wondering about the best way to begin the conversation about addiction and behavioral health problems for a close friend or family member, a professionally planned substance abuse or dual-diagnosis intervention can help you break down common objections to entering treatment and get someone you love into a program where they can regain their health and happiness. Reach out to us today to learn more about our team of intervention specialists and the services we offer.