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LGBTQ Options for Drug Rehab

  • It is unlikely that anyone who is LGBTQ will be turned away from a drug rehab program based on sexual preference, though it can happen in certain situations.
  • If you are LGBTQ, it is important to consider the atmosphere you are entering when Are There LGBTQ Specifiyou choose a drug rehab and find one that can support you in your recovery without judgment.
  • Taking the time to ask the right questions is essential to giving you assurances that your rights will be respected during treatment.
  • There are some LGBTQ support options for people in recovery from substance use disorders.
  • Be aware of the signs of underlying bias, covert or overt proselytizing, and any intolerance that could undermine your treatment.

ARE LGBTQ PEOPLE ACCEPTED AT ALL DRUG REHAB PROGRAMS?

It is rare for someone to be told that they will not be accepted to a drug rehab program based on their gender identification or sexual preference, though it is possible. Private drug rehab programs can make choices about their parameters for entry that speak to their philosophy of treatment.

For example, a religious drug rehab program that requires clients to follow religious restrictions may turn away people who are LGBTQ. This is not always the case, but it is a good idea to be open, honest, and ask a lot of questions as you begin the process of connecting with the right drug rehab program so that there are no surprises later.  The good news is that you are more likely to find that drug rehab programs are well-equipped to respond to the needs of the LGBTQ community, both in terms of medical care and mental health treatment. They are often happy to demonstrate all they have in place to provide appropriate support.

WHAT SHOULD I BE AWARE OF WHEN LOOKING INTO REHAB?

hands making a heart with rainbow wristbands on

You deserve more than a program that “tolerates” the LGBTQ population. You need a drug rehab program that understands the challenges that people in the community are facing. The rehab should be prepared to address those challenges proactively. This can come in the form of groups or therapies designed specifically for the gay or trans population or in substance abuse treatment professionals on staff who are trained to assist LGBTQ clients with whatever comes up for them during the detox and addiction treatment process.

For many people in recovery, childhood experiences, trauma, and difficult relationships often play a role in the development of addiction, and that is true as well for LGBTQ clients. You need to feel comfortable talking about what you have experienced and know that the therapists that you work with will be equipped to respond with knowledgeable guidance and support.

HOW DO I VET A DRUG REHAB PROGRAM TO FIND OUT HOW THEY TREAT LGBTQ PEOPLE?

The best way to find out what a program offers in terms of addiction treatment support specifically for LGBTQ clients is to do your research. You can:

  • Research the facility’s program online.
  • Look at the reviews of the drug rehab program.
  • Call the program.
  • Set up a tour, and see it for yourself.

Drug addiction treatment programs recognize that many people in the LGBTQ community need effective and comprehensive care for substance use disorders. As a result, many advertise on their websites that they offer services designed just for this population. However, only about 10 percent of programs notate this distinction on their sites, and about 70 percent of that number actually offer anything that goes beyond the standard offerings provided to all clients who attend.

Why is it important to ascertain what services are provided for LGBTQ clients and whether or not there are staff members trained in supporting you in your recovery based on your non-heterosexual or cisgender identification? Because counselors need to take the time to investigate what it means to treat anyone in the LGBTQ community so that, from the assessment process onward, they are not making heteronormative assumptions that can damage the integrity of the treatment plan.

Additionally, if you do not feel comfortable or accepted in a drug rehab, or worse, if you are the victim of violence as a result of your sexual orientation or gender identification, you will not complete the program. Conversely, if you feel supported and safe, you will be more likely to continue with treatment services and do the work necessary to grow stronger in recovery.

ARE THERE LGBTQ SPECIFIC OPTIONS FOR TREATMENT?

Very few programs are designed specifically for the treatment of substance use disorders in the LGBTQ population. Most people will need to travel long distances to connect with such a program, and they may be on the more expensive side.

There are also treatment services, often in the form of support groups or specific one-off therapies that are designed exclusively for gay and lesbian or trans people in recovery from addiction. These are often found in the community and make up a strong part of aftercare rather than a treatment for addiction in and of themselves.

The most important thing to focus on when choosing a drug rehab, once it is clear that there is support for the LGBTQ experience, is the caliber of mental health treatment services available. There are high rates of co-occurring mental health disorders among gay and lesbian people living with addiction, often based on the trauma that occurs before or during active drug and alcohol use.

It is essential that the mental health treatment professionals on staff at a drug rehab program be able to provide the treatment necessary to make progress and set the foundation for growth in recovery.

ARE LGBTQ-SPECIFIC TREATMENT SERVICES MORE EFFECTIVE THAN GENERAL DRUG REHAB?

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Yes, some programs are designed for gay or bisexual men only, though there are few if any drug rehabs for lesbians specifically, trans persons, or bisexuals.

Some studies have come out that support the notion that these LGBTQ-specific programs are more effective than traditional options for clients who identify as queer. Though these studies are small and do not mean that traditional programs will not work for gay and lesbian clients, they do demonstrate that finding a place where you feel comfortable is an exceptionally important part of the process.

AS AN LGBTQ PERSON, WHAT SHOULD I AVOID IN DRUG TREATMENT PROGRAMS?

It is important to look for red flags in potential drug rehab programs that say they support LGBTQ clients but don’t have anything solid to point to that supports that notion. Going to the rehab center in person is going to help you get a feel for the place and the people, allowing you to notice:

  • Staff members who seem uncomfortable looking at you or talking to you
  • An inability to use language that speaks to your experience or your community when in conversation
  • A seeming lack of knowledge of what basic LGBTQ terms mean
  • An overall feeling that the people and the program are not equipped to provide you with a sense of inclusion

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A DRUG REHAB?

If you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer, consider what it is you need to feel comfortable and safe opening up in recovery. The treatment process can be emotionally raw and requires rigorous honesty. What do you need to have to feel like a drug rehab program can provide you with the stigma-free, supportive experience that you need and deserve?

To learn more about options in drug addiction treatment for all people, reach out now to ask questions, set up a tour, and learn more about all that is available to you.

Sources

(March 2015) A qualitative study of transgender individuals’ experiences in residential addiction treatment settings: stigma and inclusivity. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy. Retrieved April 2019 from from from https://substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13011-015-0015-4

(August 2014) Substance Use and Mental Health Severity Among LGBTQ Individuals Attending Minnesota Model-Based Residential Treatment. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services. Retrieved April 2019 from from from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10538720.2014.924459

Do Specialized Services Exist for LGBT Individuals Seeking Treatment for Substance Misuse? A Study of Available Treatment Programs. Substance Use & Misuse. Retrieved April 2019 from from from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10826080601094207?src=recsys

(2015) Initial Assessment and Screening with LGBTQ Clients: A Critical Perspective. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling. Retrieved April 2019 from from from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15538605.2014.997332?src=recsys

(2013) LGBTQ Persons with Co-occurring Conditions: Perspectives on Treatment. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. Retrieved April 2019 from from from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07347324.2013.831637?src=recsys

(May 2010) Are Specialized LGBT Program Components Helpful for Gay and Bisexual Men in Substance Abuse Treatment? Substance Use and Misuse. Retrieved April 2019 from from from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/10826080903483855?src=recsys

(2012) Substance use in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: An update on empirical research and implications for treatment. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Retrieved April 2019 from from from https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2011-25205-001

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