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Addiction in the LGBT Community

According to this journal on Addiction, members of the LGBT community are at a higher risk of substance addiction than the general population. There are many reasons for this. Examples include discrimination and marginalization as a minority group. Members of the LGBT community also face barriers to treatment that do not affect non-LGBT people.

Illicit drug use among the LGBT community is more prevalent than in the rest of the population. Research by the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors suggests that LGBT women have a larger risk of substance use disorders than heterosexual women. The research also suggests that gay and bisexual men face a greater risk of illicit drug use and related problem than heterosexual men.

There is a need for safe, compassionate, and non-judgmental care in addiction treatment for the LGBT community. At Detox West Tennessee, we provide compassionate, expert-led, targeted treatment for LGBT people who struggle with addiction.

Research on addiction among the LGBT community is relatively new. Only in recent decades has it become more common and accepted to live openly with one’s sexuality. Still, here at Detox West Tennessee, we recognize and understand that LGBT people face discrimination and exclusion today, despite many social and mental health activists’ great efforts to reduce this discrimination.

The research that does exist highlights a significant prevalence of substance abuse in this community. Substance abuse is one health issue in the community. Other problems co-occur, including mental health issues, self-harm, and suicidal ideation.

Why Are Addiction Rates High in the LGBT Community?

One reason why addiction is so prevalent among this often marginalized community is that many are reluctant to seek treatment. There is a social stigma that surrounds non-heterosexuality. An LGBT person struggling with substance use may fear judgment not only from their peers but from staff members at treatment centers.

If treatment providers are not conscious about the unique needs of treating mental and behavioral health issues among LGBT members, treatment will be sub-par. Research published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment reports that gay men, more than other non-hetero groups, face the most discrimination in medical care.

This subset of the population also faces discrimination and rejection in their social and home environments. Some people are fortunate enough to be lovingly accepted. However, many LGBT people are marginalized even in their homes. Healthcare settings must consider this as it has a direct impact on one’s mental health.

One’s history of mental health is a core aspect of any treatment program. Before treatment, clients undergo a medical and psychological assessment. If treatment providers don’t consider one’s sexuality and history, they will miss a significant causal factor for mental health issues.

According to Dr. Laura Levin of Governors Institute, ‘minority stress, if prolonged and severe, leads to disruption in general psychological processes, as well as to internal stigmatization. These disruptions of general psychological processes include harmful coping mechanisms, decreased emotional regulation, poor interpersonal functioning, and worsening cognitive functioning.’

It is easy to see how any of these issues can lead to substance abuse. Minority stress can also lead to:

  • A desire to conceal one’s identity
  • The expectation of rejection
  • Internalized homo/transphobia

These stress-related issues, in turn, can lead to a higher incidence of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Emotional disorders
  • Substance use disorder
  • Lower levels of self-care
  • Increased rates of suicide

The goal of LGBT-focused addiction treatment is to:

  • Stop the use of substances
  • Promote effective self-management
  • Encourage resilience.

For the LGBT community, this requires compassionate medical and psychological services. When provided with unbiased care, the result is less psychological comorbidity and improved quality of life.

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LGBT-specific Addiction Recovery

Treatment programs that suit the needs of the LGBT community are safe and non-judgmental. A compassionate space is created for LGBT people to receive the care they need.

The client’s sexuality or gender should not compromise the quality of care and care providers’ compassion. Addiction, detox, and recovery are already challenging. The process need not be made more difficult by bias.

At Detox West Tennessee, we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We aim to provide a safe and compassionate space for all our clients. We support each client in achieving their recovery goals.

Staff members who lead our LGBT-specific treatment programs are trained professionals. They can demonstrate expert knowledge of the LGBT community’s specific needs in healthcare.

Addiction Recovery Program Components

Individual and group therapy and counseling are the cornerstones of addiction treatment. Many members of the LGBT community seeking treatment find comfort in group settings with other community members. Stories and experiences can be shared, understood, and empathized with by the group. There is also less fear of judgment and LGBT-phobic attitudes.

Each program begins with a medically supervised detoxification program. Detox is necessary to help clients break the physical hold that substances can have. Detox also reduces the severity of withdrawal as we can help to manage the symptoms.

Withdrawal refers to the difficult and overwhelming symptoms that arise when we stop using substances. Withdrawal is one of the main reasons people relapse. The symptoms can be severe. Addicted individuals sometimes forego their recovery efforts and use substances again to reduce their symptoms.

Detox and withdrawal in our addiction treatment programs are medically supervised according to the  World Health Organization guidelines.

Depending on the substance of addiction, there are different types of treatment available. Our treatment programs use various therapeutic modalities. As such, we provide the most comprehensive care for each client. Therapeutic services offered include individual, group, and family therapy and experiential therapies.

Feelings of fear, shame, and guilt are prevalent among members of the LGBT community in addiction treatment programs. At Detox West Tennessee, we aim to help clients overcome these feelings.

We offer compassionate and unbiased discussions around the topics of sexuality and identity.

In treatment, we also discuss:

  • The importance of identity and community
  • The importance of mental health treatment in marginalized communities
  • The impact of shame and guilt on mental and behavioral health
  • The experience of coming out to friends and family
  • Dealing with sexuality and identity issues in the workplace
  • Dealing with domestic violence in the LGBT community
  • Healthy communication and connection with others
  • Social life and sobriety

Addiction Recovery at Detox West Tennessee

Addiction does not discriminate, and neither do we. Here at Detox West Tennessee, we treat clients of all sexual and gender identities. We offer an LGBT-specific treatment program because we understand this marginalized group’s specific needs regarding receiving adequate health care.

When you or a loved one comes to us for help, we accept you with understanding and compassion. It can be daunting to reach out for help at first. However, once treatment has begun and you gain a sense of hope for the future, you may find yourself relieved.

Recovery from addiction is entirely possible, and you don’t need to tackle it alone.

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction and want to get professional help, contact us today. We are here to provide compassionate support to each client that walks through our doors.

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