As anyone who works in addiction treatment can attest, addiction doesn’t discriminate. For those who already face ongoing discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, seeking addiction treatment can be particularly daunting. If you are LGBTQ+ and are ready to reclaim your life, you’re probably unsure about where to turn for help. One thing’s for sure: You have options. Increasingly, rehab facilities around the country are going to great lengths to be inclusive to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Ocean Hills Recovery is one of them. Read on to find out why inclusive addiction treatment is so important.
Staggering Rates of Addiction Among the LGBTQ+ Community
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 20 to 30 percent of LGBTQ+ individuals suffer from a substance use disorder. Among the general population, the rate is around 8.4 percent. In a survey, 39.1 percent of LGBTQ+ admitted to using illicit drugs in the past year versus just 17.1 percent of the general population. Per these statistics, then, rates of addiction are anywhere from two to three times higher among the LGBTQ+ population than the regular population—but why?
Why Are Members of the LGBTQ+ Community at Higher Risk for Addiction?
Given that members of the LGBTQ+ community already suffer unfairly from bias, homophobia, prejudice and even violence, it seems especially unfair that they are also more susceptible to developing substance use disorders. However, many factors contribute to this increased risk. By understanding these factors, it is easier to see why choosing an addiction treatment center can be so overwhelming:
Sure, all of us have to deal with stress from time to time. However, LGBTQ+ individuals often carry around a lot more of it due to rampant stigma and prejudice in today’s society. Although the community has made impressive strides toward equality, it is still perfectly okay in many places to be openly discriminatory and prejudiced toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. LGBTQ+ individuals with addictions often cite the stress that they endure from discrimination as a major trigger for turning to drugs or alcohol.
Facing discrimination for being LGBTQ+ is bad enough. What’s worse is that many gay and lesbian individuals absorb society’s cruel messages and internalize them. Without even realizing it consciously, they may loathe themselves for being who they are. Self-loathing is a very common trigger for wanting to escape through the use of mind-altering substances. Such individuals may even convince themselves that they deserve to be miserable and addicted. This is especially likely when the very people who are supposed to love and care about them reject them.
Indeed, members of the LGBTQ+ community often face the rejection of their closest friends and relatives. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 40 percent of today’s homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. Sadly, many of them end up on the streets after being rejected by their families. Whether a person is snubbed and treated poorly by loved ones or is actually kicked out of their home, feelings of rejection are difficult to cope with. For many, drugs and alcohol offer a tempting escape from those difficult feelings—and from the overall lack of support that they receive from the people who are supposed to love them unconditionally.
Finally, as we will discuss below, a significant percentage of LGBTQ+ individuals suffer from mood disorders, eating disorders and other forms of mental illness. Regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, someone who suffers from such illnesses often looks for relief wherever they can. All too often, this takes the form of substance abuse. When compounded by the stress of being discriminated against for being LGBTQ+, it is easy to see why members of this population are so much likelier to develop addictions.
Co-Occurring Conditions and Substance Abuse Among LGBTQ+ Individuals
Co-occurring conditions, or dual diagnoses, are common among those who suffer from substance use disorders. They are even more common still among members of the LGBTQ+ community. According to the Hazeldon Betty Ford Foundation, in fact, 92 percent of LGBTQ+ patients in treatment had co-occurring conditions versus just 78 percent of non-LGBTQ+ patients. For these individuals, it is especially crucial to find treatment that addresses not just their addiction but their co-occurring conditions as well.
Benefits of Inclusive Addiction Treatment for LGBTQ+
If you live in California, are LGBTQ+ and need addiction treatment, it is wise to seek out an LGBTQ+ rehab California. In other words, you should select a facility that explicitly states its inclusivity to members of the LGBTQ+ community. As always, words aren’t enough, so look for evidence that the facility takes extra steps to address the special needs of LGBTQ+ individuals. For example, such a facility will offer traditional group therapy as well as group therapy that is specific to LGBTQ+ people. A facility that goes out of its way to make LGBTQ+ patients feel welcome is likelier to have caring, understanding personnel who have even been trained to more effectively address the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals.
Call Today for Help
Are you seeking an LGBTQ+ rehab California? Ocean Hills Recovery is here to help. Our facility and personnel are opening and supportive of all clients, and we are proud to offer strong support for members of the LGBTQ+ community. For help, give us a call today.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.