LGBTQ rehab centers treat alcohol and substance use disorders while focusing on the unique struggles of the LGTQIA+ community. Historically, this community has faced discrimination from various facets of society and the medical community.1,2 This, in turn, can be demotivating when seeking treatment for your addiction. However, treatment options exist that are centered around LGBTQ+ community needs.3,4,5
In this article:
- The Need for LGBTQ Rehab
- How LGBTQ Rehab Centers Help
- The Benefits of LGBTQ Drug Rehab
- What to Expect at LGBTQ Rehab Centers
The Need for LGBTQ Rehab
The incidence of addiction and substance misuse is higher among the LGBTQ+ community due to the stigma and discrimination that they face.1 Previous discriminatory treatment can compound, and you may be discouraged when seeking treatment for your alcohol and/or substance misuse. Fortunately, several facilities now offer services or specialize in meeting your needs as a member of the LGTBQ+ community.2,3
You deserve the opportunity to get healthcare at an LGBTQ drug rehab or alcohol rehab without bias or judgment.3,4 There is a shift in perceptions, attitudes, and options that have helped lower barriers for LGBTQ individuals getting the treatment they need in an affirming facility.5,6
How LGBTQ Rehab Centers Help
Other benefits of rehab centers geared toward the LGBTQ+ community would be that they address your history and are aware of the struggles you may have faced. Treatment professionals are familiar with such struggles, including any or all of the following: 1,2,3,4,5
- Rejection by family of origin
- Physical abuse by family members, partners, and others
- Exclusion from activities and social groups
- Rejection by your spiritual community
- Job loss due to discrimination
- Public discrimination and ridicule
- Judgment from your peer group
- Losing custody of a child
- Disqualification from a spouse’s insurance plan
- Violence based on gender identification and/or sexual orientation
While all treatment centers that are properly credentialed will have staff trained in substance misuse and alcohol treatment, those that acknowledge and specialize in providing LGBTQ+ treatment will have staff trained to address these areas alongside treatment for recovery .3,4
Research indicates that the ability to build rapport and a therapeutic bond with your treatment providers, staff at the treatment center, and fellow members of recovery who are in treatment with you increases recovery rates.1,3,4 Building rapport contributes to a sense of emotional safety and provides components to physical safety; as such, it is highly encouraged to seek treatment in an environment that resonates with you. However, please be mindful that recovery takes concerted effort and willingness on your part.
The Benefits of LGBTQ Drug Rehab
Stigma against the LGBTQ+ community partly contributes to the increased prevalence of substance misuse within the community. Therefore, your treatment is unlikely to be successful if the program with which you seek treatment perpetuates discrimination or misunderstanding.3
Members of the LGBTQ+ community have historically experienced heavy discrimination. This could be on a personal level with relationships such as family and loved ones or in the public arena such as occupation or schooling. You should find treatment that meets your needs and where you are not faced with continued discrimination and prejudice.2,3,4,5
Recovery from substance use disorder has its own challenges and facing that stigma alone can make it difficult to seek treatment. LGBTQ rehab centers can provide a stigma-free environment that eases your fear of entering treatment . Being able to receive equitable treatment has also been shown to improve recovery rates.5,6
Openness and Acceptance of Your Identity
Research also shows that if you can accept your identity and sexuality, it can lead to better treatment outcomes. LGBTQ rehab centers will typically provide an atmosphere conducive to self-acceptance.1,3,4
LGBTQ+ recovery facilities can support your decisions and discretion regarding your identity. While this is not the case with all, you can address this with your treatment facility staff and support system. Is it appropriate for you to come out? Would that positively impact your recovery? Research shows that if you can embrace and express your identity, there is a positive effect on recovery. Yet, only you would know when it is physically and emotionally safe to come out, whether partially or completely.1,2,3,4
An LGBTQ rehab center will also be equipped to work with you on your level of acceptance of your identity. Acceptance is an integral component of a healthy recovery. This not only pertains to outside circumstances that are not in your control but also to yourself. Often, an underlying reason for addiction is a lack of acceptance of yourself and things out of your control. Finding an LGBTQ drug rehab would allow you the opportunity to work with a credentialed professional on self-acceptance of your identity and all facets of your life that affect your substance use disorder.1,2,3,4
What to Expect at LGBTQ Rehab Centers
One example of how LGBTQ+ rehabs can address your specific needs is that if you identify as transgender, the facility can provide housing consistent with your self-identified gender. This can make a difference in the successful outcome of your treatment.3
Also, if you are transgender and/or are going through transition, an LGBTQ+ treatment center will have trained professionals on managing hormonal treatments during rehab services, such as detox.3,5
There may be other sources of emotional pain you may face as an LGBTQ+ member due to being misunderstood or judged.3By allowing a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community to process feelings around past trauma and seek treatment in a supportive environment, patients are able to focus on creating a foundation to build upon toward a solid, long-term recovery. 2,5,6
Approaches such as these are supported by research to be effective and positively affect recovery outcomes for you as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. 2,3,5
Furthermore, treatment centers that identify as LGBTQ+ friendly have a higher chance of developing more effective treatment plans with you that fully take into account your specific situation and needs.3,5
These programs will also consider the following: 2,3,5
- The high prevalence of co-occurring mental health symptoms among LGBTQIA+ individuals
- Correct terminology and understanding of LGBTQ+ issues
- A history of mistrust by those who identify as transgender of healthcare providers
- The emotional and physical challenges faced by younger people who identify as LGBTQ+
LGBTQ+ treatment facilities and programs will prioritize your needs on a personal, psychological, social, and historical level while providing a safe, emotional, safe space to receive treatment. There will be trained staff in addiction treatment specific to LGBTQ needs. It will be a balance between addiction treatment with a focus on your specific circumstances and practical needs.,4,5
Making sure that you are treated with respect and understanding of your identity is vital to your recovery.
Long-term recovery is most successful when you also address the behaviors and environment that led you to use substances in the first place.1 Your treatment team will assess your needs at the beginning of rehab and build a plan around those needs, which may include behavioral therapies or peer support groups with other LGBTQ+ individuals. Your treatment plan may include:3,4,6
- Learning to manage your response to discrimination
- Acceptance of your identity
- If relevant, coming out to your loved ones and eventually to the public
- Coping with peer pressure and social norms (or being in an outgroup of social norms)
- Addressing feelings and emotions
All of these circumstances and conditions make it important for you to find a treatment program with experience treating those in the LGBTQ+ community. If you or a loved one feels treatment is the right fit, or you’re unsure of where to start, contact a treatment specialist at 800-662-4357 to consider your options.
- Green, K. E., & Feinstein, B. A. (2012). Substance Use in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Populations: An Update on Empirical Research and Implications For Treatment. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 26(2), 265-278.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (n.d.). A Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individuals.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). Top Health Issues for LGBTQ Populations Information & Resource Kit.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.) Substance Use and SUDS in LGBTQ Populations.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual (LGB) Adults.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition) Principles of Effective Treatment.