The underlying reasons behind substance abuse are often different among the LGBT community to those that may trigger similar dysfunctional behaviors in heterosexual people. For this reason, it’s important to consider specific LGBT addiction treatment that addresses each person’s unique psychological causes of self-destructive behaviors. Substance abuse treatments, counseling, therapy, and group support sessions are dedicated to ensuring the psychological triggers behind addictive behaviors are properly addressed.
Studies show that gay men, lesbian women, bisexual and transgender people are far more likely to turn to alcohol and drugs in an effort to escape from or numb painful feelings or emotions. People within the LGBT community are also more likely to experience higher rates of substance abuse.
Many people within the LGBT community struggle with exclusion from various social groups and activities, along with other forms of public discrimination. Some are made to feel wrongful feelings of shame or embarrassment from the judgmental criticism received from family members, friends, colleagues or associates, while others may be subjected to peer ridicule or outright rejection. In an effort to escape from painful feelings or to numb negative emotions, many will turn to drugs or alcohol.
Reports show that a section of the gay community may experience higher than normal rates of methamphetamine abuse, as it’s commonly regarded as a gay party and club drug that allows them to maintain an erection for a longer period of time.
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Many rehab centers use traditional treatment methods and programs that don’t take into account the differing psychological needs of the LGBT community. For example, placing a young homosexual male into an inpatient rehab program with other heterosexual men, also being treated for substance addiction, only increases feelings of isolation and vulnerability for the gay male.
By comparison, LGBT-specific addiction treatment facilities focus on the individual needs of each patient. Treatment programs also incorporate traditional rehab treatments, including administering prescription medications, where necessary, and providing medical supervision and monitoring throughout the medical detox process.
In order for the recovery process to begin, treatment also needs to take into account the highly personal dynamic between the drug and the person abusing it. Counselors strive to address the triggers behind addictive behavior and work to rebuild self-esteem and confidence. Treatment is conducted in a safe, non-judgmental environment.
Aside from one-on-one counseling, patients are also encouraged to participate in group support meetings that help to reduce feelings of isolation. Group therapy offers the opportunity to build supportive new social networks among like-minded people experiencing similar challenges and obstacles on their way to recovery.
There are also numerous alternative therapies incorporated into traditional treatment programs, including art or music therapy, dance therapy, equine therapy, yoga, and meditation. Alternative and holistic therapies are designed to provide natural ways to express emotions and cope with feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression throughout the recovery process.
Completing a rehab treatment program is a big achievement. However, recovery is an ongoing process that requires management.
The risk of relapse is reduced if the person has access to a variety of aftercare programs designed to help them maintain sobriety. Most rehab treatment centers offer a broad range of aftercare programs designed to give the recovering addict access to counseling, alternative therapies, follow-up meetings, and group support sessions.
- Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health. (2016, February 29). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/substance-abuse.htm
- Green, K. E., & Feinstein, B. A. (2012, June). Substance Use in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Populations: An Update on Empirical Research and Implications for Treatment. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3288601/
- McLellan, A. T., PhD, Lewis, D. C., MD, O’Brien, C. P., MD, PhD, & Kleber, H. D., MD. (2000). Drug Dependence, a Chronic Medical Illness Implications for Treatment, Insurance, and Outcomes Evaluation[PDF]. American Medical Association.
Last updated on April 6th, 2017 at 09:35 pm