Research over the last decade reports that members of the LGBTQ+ community show rates of opioid use, prescription drug abuse, and marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco usage that are all higher than the rates for the overall population. As a demographic at higher risk of addiction and overdose, it’s especially important for LGBTQ+ patients to have access to dedicated treatment which takes into account the specific circumstantial factors that can play a large role in their recovery.
People in the LGBTQ+ community can also benefit from treatment in other ways. Studies indicate that receiving treatment for addiction also leads to lower chances of engaging in risky sexual behavior, reduced transmission of HIV, and fewer instances of interpersonal violence. Long-term treatment that also addresses comorbidities like depression can also lead to longer life expectancy and lower rates of self-harm and suicide.
Beyond the elevated of rates of substance use across the entire LGBTQ+ community, gay men are even more likely than average to use some drugs, including crystal meth and certain stimulants. Over the past few decades, gay club culture has seen a rise in the prevalence of party drugs, making this form of addiction a highly social disease.
Gay men and the LGBTQ+ community as a also whole face higher rates of comorbidities–that is, co-occurring disorders which can play into to one another. People in the sexual minority who struggle with addiction are at increased risk of also struggling with depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide. These combined problems can snowball in a person’s mind until they seem completely overwhelming, making the prospect of getting help feel impossible.
Because members of the LGBTQ+ community often face discrimination, harassment, marginalization, and social stigma on interpersonal and institutional levels, it’s not uncommon for a mindset of isolation and desperation to develop. Mental isolation is a common precursor to dangerous behaviors, including substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, self-harm, and suicidal ideation.
Anyone struggling with addiction can feel ashamed of their condition, preventing them from reaching out to get help; when multiplied by the already-present stigmas a person may face from the outside world, compounded shame can make it especially challenging to get help, even if you admit you have a problem.
Like for anyone struggling with addiction, studies show that members of the LGBTQ+ community benefit from receiving swift, comprehensive treatment for their disorders. Because of the shame and stigma that you may have experienced for years on end, this can be a challenging bridge to cross. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community are all-too-well aware of the prevalence of electroshock therapy and other forms of barbaric “treatment” meant to “cure” people of their sexual orientation or identity. As such, it may be hard to trust the idea of turning yourself over to medical professionals to address your mental problems.
Research has shown that substance abuse treatment designed specifically for members of the LGBTQ+ community leads to higher success rates in overcoming addiction and staying clean, although treatment facilities that offer such programs are still in the relative minority in the United States. New options become available every year and thanks to the connectivity of the internet, it’s easier than ever to explore treatment paths that fit your unique circumstances.
In response to the mental isolation and social stigma that can distance members of the LGBTQ+ community from the people around them, the most effective forms of treatment for this demographic tends to incorporate large amounts of social support and interpersonal therapy. Treatment should incorporate the creation of a trustworthy support system, connecting with peers in recovery for both encouragement and accountability, and the development of crucial non-judgmental relationships, such as with a sponsor.
Because those identifying as LGBTQ+ have higher rates of co-occurring psychiatric conditions, it’s important for treatment to help them to address both addiction and other intertwined disorders, like depression, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder. These disorders tend to respond well to a combination of long-term therapy, prescribed medication, an influx in intentional social connectivity, and individualized life guidance from a trusted source over time.
In addition, a comprehensive treatment plan will involve addressing the external sources of extreme stress and negativity in a patient’s life. LGBTQ+ youth are at much higher risk of familial abuse, unstable living situations, violence, harassment, bullying, isolation, and suicide. To fully treat addiction, these factors must be taken into consideration. Otherwise, curing addiction only removes one outlet for feelings of intense negativity which will nevertheless continue to grow.
Because of the complexity and intensity of multiple disorders and problems that frequently present alongside addiction in LGBTQ+ patients, one of the most effective forms of treatment is residential recovery in a location designed to keep patients safe, socially engaged, and proactive in working towards healing. Inpatient treatment centers specializing in LGBTQ+ recovery are increasing in number across the country and can be one of the most comprehensive options for someone who needs help navigating through a difficult life situation on multiple fronts.
Even if a treatment center isn’t designated as primarily for LGBTQ+ patients, many facilities offer specific staff relationships for people in the sexual minority whose unique identities often play a role in the root of formed addiction. To treat these addictions, find a recovery center that displays an understanding of your needs and can provide dedicated treatment plans accordingly. Warner Park Recovery offers personalized care by empathetic professionals who know the importance of treating your full range of experiences. We believe in working with our clients to give you a quality experience that will foster lasting stability and recovery.
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