June 13, 2019
It’s National Pride Month; a time in which we celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQ community and all of the hard-fought progress we have made towards equality. However, there are still ongoing challenges. The LGBTQ Community historically has experienced significantly higher rates of mental illness and increased barriers to quality healthcare including appropriate placement and encountering violence in residential treatment programs (Allen & Mowbray, 2016). It is imperative to increase access to specialized treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) to ensure better health outcomes for the LGBTQ community.
The barriers to obtaining treatment are often overlooked and range from challenges in settings. Imagine finally reaching a place of readiness to enroll in treatment and being denied because of your sexual orientation or gender identity. Or being accepted into a program and being subject to violence from other clients. It is imperative that all individuals seeking treatment are provided with the environment and resources needed to achieve the recovery they seek.
Sobriety is a time when many individuals explore and acknowledge truths about themselves that they were hiding, confused about or repressing when they were using alcohol and drugs. Those who have struggled with their sexual orientation and/or gender identity may begin to process their emotions and/or trauma around these aspects of themselves. While sobriety may be a positive choice, it may lead to many challenges for the LGBTQ community. This requires specialized clinical and social support that general addiction care may not be qualified to address.
By Sarah Allen Benton, LMHC, LPC and Sara Kaiser, MS Ed, LPN
Allen, J. L., & Mowbray, O. (2016). Sexual orientation, treatment utilization, and barriers for alcohol related problems: Findings from a nationally representative sample. Drug and Alcohol Dependence,161, 323-330. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.02.025