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LGBTQ Rehab and Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a chronic medical condition involving the brain, which is influenced by several factors such as neurobiology, genetics, environment, and life experiences.1 People with addiction continue to misuse substances and/or engage in risky behavior even though they may result in harmful consequences.1 However, if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, it is treatable like other chronic illnesses such as diabetes.1

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that effective treatment should address not only substance misuse, but co-occurring psychological disorders and social issues, including those related to culture, gender, and sexual orientation.2 Some treatment programs offer addiction treatment for people who identify as LGBTQ. Research shows that LGBTQ rehab programs may increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for people who identify as LGBTQ.3

Addiction in LGBTQ Communities

Those who identify as LGBTQ often face stigma, discrimination, biases, and an increased risk of violence and/or harassment.3 Due to these challenges, LGBTQ people are at increased risk for behavioral health issues.3 The following statistics show the different rates of substance use: 3

  • Over one-third of people identifying as LGBTQ reported marijuana use, compared to 16.2% reported by the overall adult population.
  • Opioid use in LGBTQ adults was 9% compared to 3.8% in the general adult population.
  • Those who identify as LGBTQ present with more advanced substance use disorders (SUDs) on average.

Co-Occurring Disorders in LGBTQ Community

Co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnoses, are when a person has a mental health disorder and substance use disorder at the same time.4 Co-occurring disorders are more common among those who identify as LGBTQ than among the general population. This is significant because people with a history of mental health diagnoses may be at higher risk of developing a substance use disorder.3

Research has shown that young adults in the LGBTQ community are more likely to experience both co-occurring depressive disorder symptoms and alcohol use disorders.5

Although the body of research specifically on LGBTQ mental health is limited, there is ample evidence that members of these groups are at increased risk for mental health disorders, especially anxiety and depression.

People who identify as lesbian, gay, and bisexual are twice as likely to experience mental illness.6 People who identify as transgender are almost 4 times more likely than cisgender (gender identity matches that of their birth sex) individuals to suffer a mental health disorder.6

Socioeconomic and cultural factors including discrimination, harassment, civil and human rights violations, or family rejection can also contribute to the development of mental health disorders.3

What Are LGBTQ Rehabs for Drug and Alcohol Addiction?

Addiction treatment centers that specifically serve LGBTQ people may include staff with specific training, and programming designed to support the unique needs of the LGBTQ community. The National Institute on Drug Abuse advises that effective substance abuse treatment should address the whole individual’s background and specific needs, which may include the following: 2, 11

  • Discrimination or community violence
  • Homophobia
  • Experiences of rejection by family members
  • Coming out
  • Symptoms of depression

Types of LGBTQ Addiction Treatment Programs

If you or your loved one are seeking LGBTQ addiction treatment, it’s important to look for LGBTQ rehabs that offer appropriate and individualized treatment. While recovery takes work and relapse sometimes occurs, addiction is treatable.1 There are a variety of rehab treatment facilities offering evidence-based types of treatment such as:

  • Detox: Detoxification is the process of a person ridding their body of substances. Due to the potential for uncomfortable or even dangerous withdrawal symptoms, supervised detox is advisable. Detox can take place in a variety of settings and varying levels of intensity depending on the substance and person’s other needs.7
  • Inpatient or residential treatment: Inpatient rehab treatment is appropriate for people who require higher levels of care where they live in the facility 24/7. Services and amenities can vary and often include therapy, medication management, treatment for co-occurring disorders, mutual support groups, and aftercare planning.9
  • Outpatient rehab: Outpatient treatment can include varying levels of intensity ranging from partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient to lower levels where a person visits a facility for a few hours a week. People do not live at outpatient facilities so they can continue working, going to school, and attending to personal responsibilities while undergoing treatment.8, 9
  • Behavioral therapy: There are several types of behavioral therapy used in treating addiction like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, motivational enhancement, and family therapy. These therapies can help people develop coping skills and thinking patterns about substance misuse to reduce the risk of relapse.12
  • Medication management: Medications may be used to help ease withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, or treat co-occurring physical and/or mental health conditions.13
  • Mutual support groups: Support groups can help people connect with others who understand their struggle with addiction while learning tools to support their recovery. 12-Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are well-known types of mutual support groups. Some 12-Step and mutual support groups are specifically for those who identify as LGBTQ. These programs are based on a set of spiritual principles, outlined in the Big Book of AA.

How to Choose an LGBTQ Rehab Center

If you or someone you love identifies as LGBTQ and are struggling with addiction, an LGBTQ rehab may be a good option. Consider the following factors when looking for rehabs:9

  • The facility addresses all a person’s needs, not just their substance misuse.
  • Counseling and other behavioral therapies are used.
  • Medication management is available if needed.
  • Treatment plans are reviewed often and modified to fit a person’s changing needs.
  • Treatment addresses co-occurring disorders.
  • Detoxification is offered.
  • Aftercare or continuing care planning is offered to plan for the next phase of recovery.
  • Staff is trained and/or certified in supporting those who identify as LGBTQ.

Find an LGBTQ Rehab Near Me

If you identify as LGBTQ, you may want to consider addiction treatment that specializes in treating the LGBTQ community. Recovering alongside others who understand you and your substance misuse may feel more supportive. LGBTQ addiction treatment may have the potential to provide more positive outcomes than traditional rehab models.10

Reaching out for support can be scary, but recovery is possible and American Addiction Centers is here to help. Contact our caring admission navigators via our confidential, free helpline at . We’re available 24/7 to take your call, help you check your insurance coverage, and explain your treatment options so you can find the right rehabs for you.

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