Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning (LGBTQ) Addiction

For years now, it has been increasingly acknowledged that substance abuse and addiction incidence is higher among people who self-identify as homosexual, bisexual, transgender, or somewhere else on the gender or sexuality spectrum (LGBTQ). People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) often face social stigma and discrimination.  They also face a greater risk of harassment and violence.  As a result of these and other stressors, sexual minorities are at increased risk for various behavioral health issues. We Level Up’s LGBTQ Addiction Treatment programs have been carefully structured to ensure all clients are receiving excellent care.

Substance Use and Misuse

National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) last 2018 suggests that substance use patterns reported by sexual minority adults are higher written by heterosexual adults.  More than a third of sexual minority adults reported past-year marijuana use, compared to 16.2% reported by the overall adult population. Past year opioid use was also higher, with 9% of sexual minority adults aged 18 or older reporting use compared to 3.8% among the overall adult population.  Additionally, 9% of sexual minority adults aged 26 or older reported past-year misuse of prescription opioids and increased from the 6.4% who said misuse in 2017. However, there was a significant decline in past year prescription opioids.

H survey also shows that since 2015, there were no significant changes in reported alcohol use disorder among sexual minority young adults (ages 18-25), with 12.4% reporting an illness, compared to 10.1% in the overall population misuse among sexual minority adults aged 18-25 with 8.3% reporting use in 2018.

We Level Up Treatment Center Addiction Rehab
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Vaping and Tobacco Products

A recent review on the use of tobacco products by LGBT individuals shows elevated smoking rates and ever e-cigarette use compared to their heterosexual counterparts.  LGB adults, bisexual women report more effective use of ever trying e-cigarettes than heterosexual women and greater dual use of tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes than lesbian and heterosexual women.  In addition, bisexual men were more likely to report ever or current e-cigarette use than heterosexual men.  These findings suggest that that may need targeted health messages.

Discrimination and Addiction in the LGBTQ Community

People who identify as LGBTQ have historically experienced extensive discrimination throughout their lives. Both in their relationships and in the public sphere. American Journal of Public Health [1] shows the toll of this constant bias.  LGBTQ persons who have experienced multiple forms of discrimination are four times more likely to develop substance abuse disorder. Some of the contributing factors can include:

  • Exclusion from social groups and activities
  • Physical abuse by family members or partners
  • Rejection by the family or a spiritual community
  • Job loss, loss of child custody, or other public discrimination
  • Violence is based on sexual orientation or gender identification
  • Sexuality discrimination is combined with other forms of discrimination, such as gender, race, religion, etc.

An LGBTQ person struggling with addiction may have experienced multiple incidences of these or other factors.  In other cases, it may just be the fear of these occurring that could develop an addiction disorder.

LGBTQ Addiction Treatment Options

Recognizing these issues can be especially important for residential treatment. Something as simple as making sure transgender individuals are housed with their self-identified gender can make an essential difference in their treatment.  Also, it is vital being aware of the particular needs of gay men compared to lesbians.  Or the different needs of bisexual individuals or LGBTQ youth.  This can make a difference in providing treatment that can lead to long-term recovery.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provided the outline treatment manual, A Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individuals.[2]  It can help treatment providers to become aware of the particular needs of the LGBTQ community when it comes to rehab to create better programs that are genuinely beneficial to this demographic.  In addition, these adopted guidelines and augmented by the Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Addiction Professionals and Their Allies, an organization that provides resources and advocacy for LGBTQ persons struggling with addiction.

Resources and Support

  • Meeting the Particular Needs of LGBTQ Populations
  • A treatment center that is LGBTQ-friendly will recognize the above factors and implement the concepts in its practices.  Through doing so, these treatment centers may develop more effective protocols to address several LGBTQ-specific issues. This includes the following reported in a research review on LGBTQ substance abuse by the Butler Center for Research.[3]The higher incidence of marijuana and illicit drug abuse and addiction for gay men
  • The prevalence of alcohol addiction and binge drinking for lesbian
  • The isolation that bisexual individuals may feel from both heterosexual and homosexual communities
  • The mistrust of healthcare providers that can run high in the transgender community
  • How to manage the use of hormonal treatments during rehab therapies
  • The emotional and physical challenges faced by younger people who identify as LGBTQ

These are just some of the practical needs that are important for a treatment center to be aware of in treating individuals who identify as LGBTQ.  LGBTQ Addiction treatment is most effective when we can anticipate what those seeking treatment may look for in a rehab program.

We Level Up Treatment Center
All clients are welcomed to We Level Up who have the desire to be sober

Finding LGBTQ-Friendly Treatment Centers

Because of the growing understanding of LGBTQ issues with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, many treatment centers assert their ability to provide treatment that caters to the specific needs of this population.  However, some of these programs may have underlying biases that somewhat counteract their good intentions.  The challenge then becomes finding a facility that truly meets the needs of the individual seeking help with their addiction.

  • Addiction treatment experts recognize that the treatments are more likely to result in long-term recovery for all populations.  This includes medically supported detox and rehab and therapeutic methods and support mechanisms to help individuals manage their comeback in the months and years following healing.
  • LGBTQ individuals seeking treatment and their loved ones.  This priority is balanced with the need to make sure that the program they enter is not only understanding of their particular personal, social, and psychological challenges.  It should also provide the support needed to help overcome other specific issues they may deal with during and after rehab.
    • We are managing responses to discrimination from others
    • Constantly dealing with depression, anxiety, and guilt that stem from sexual orientation or gender identity
    • Handling peer pressure and the club scene
    • We are accepting identity and coming out based on the guidelines

We Level Up LGBTQ Addiction Treatment Benefits

For residential rehab inparticular, it’s essential to ask whether transgender individuals are placed with their self-identified gender.  Treatments that forced clients to reside with their birth gender may perpetuate the stigma and resultant mental and emotional struggles that contributed to the substance abuse to begin with.  Therefore, ensuring individuals show respect and understanding of their identity is vital to their paths to recovery.

Because of the potential for a dual diagnosis, LGBTQ persons who have substance abuse issues are often also dealing with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues – it can be helpful to make sure the treatment program can simultaneously treat these different issues and the substance abuse and addiction issue.  The Treatment Manual can help ensure that individuals have all the tools they need to manage their recovery after rehab.

As emphasized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse,[4] the drug or alcohol rehab program most likely to help an individual achieve long-term recovery is one that is tailored or customized based on that individual’s specific needs.

For that reason, a person who identifies as LGBTQ and who is ready to enter substance abuse treatment must find a program with experience treating those in the LGBTQ community.

At We Level Up Treatment Center, we provide world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope.  We are working as an integrated team to providing LGBTQ Addiction Treatment  and other aspects of treatment.  Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists.  Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.