Where Should LGBTQ+ People Find Treatment?

People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) often face a greater risk of discrimination, stigma, and violence. As a result, the LGBTQ community is at increased risk for mental health and substance addiction problems. According to the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), 30 percent of the LGBT community struggles with addiction, compared to nine percent among the general population. This means that substance addiction is two to four times higher in the LGBT community than in the general public. 

When it comes to addiction’s co-occurring mental health problems, sexual minorities are more likely to develop comorbid psychiatric disorders. Treating both substance addiction and these mental and behavioral health issues requires a tailored approach that accommodates the many sensitive issues among the LGBT community. In recent years, such treatment is also known as the “queer normative” approach.

What Is a “Queer Normative” Treatment Approach?

Because those in the LGBTQ community who are struggling with addiction may suffer under double stigmatization, it is important for treatment plans to directly deal with the effect of stigma so it does not further complicate addiction recovery. A “queer normative” treatment approach is based on a well-rounded and inclusive understanding of recovery. It includes clinician sensitivity to the additional stigma by creating a person-centered understanding of the human being and wellness. 

Treatment centers that embrace a “queer normative” approach may provide supportive therapies that address common sensitivities to the LGBTQ+ community, including trauma, violence, homophobia, isolation, and dysfunctional family dynamics. In addition to these, there are other clinically proven strategies to serve as tools of empowerment and social support. These include motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and other queer-affirming practices.

Will These Treatments Provide Support for Families?

Because many research studies show that family approval or rejection of an individual identifying with the LGBTQ community can have lasting effects on their addiction and chance of recovery, some treatment centers seek to actively involve families of these LGBTQ individuals in supporting their loved ones towards long-term sobriety. 

Families with teens and young adults who depend on drugs and alcohol while identifying with the LGBTQ community may need to rely on the expertise and experience of professional interventionists for several reasons. First, parents need to work on their own biases and prejudices, if they are not queer-affirming. Otherwise, engaging with a child with queer tendencies may be counter-productive. Second, addiction and its co-occurring mental health concerns in the LGBTQ community are very layered and complicated issues. Parents need to spend a lot of time educating themselves so they can avoid some common mistakes. Lastly, because these young people tend to struggle emotionally at home, it is wiser to bring an experienced outsider to intervene. 

Does Inclusive Treatment Make a Difference?

It is important to help LGBTQ individuals find the right kind of addiction treatment because the quality of care is key. Unfortunately, many health professionals still lack the training, education, and cultural sensitivity to deal with the medical and psychological issues that are unique to the queer community. Some have yet to deal with their own homophobic tendencies. This means “traditional” drug treatment programs might exclude LGBTQ individuals at the risk of worsening their chances of recovery. 

One can only imagine the trauma of an LGBTQ person going through addiction treatment in a non-queer-affirming environment. The core of detox treatment is to detox and de-stress, but LGBT people can experience increased stress in a traditional detox treatment program that uses the same prejudice that traumatized and triggered them to use drugs and alcohol in the first place.

A “queer normative” treatment program examines the dynamic between the nature of substance addiction and the clients themselves, while considering all layers of stigmatization and trauma. In this sense, a queer normative approach is primarily a trauma-informed one. For this approach to work, it is necessary that the clients feel safe and comfortable in revealing and sharing their personal histories. They need to be welcomed to speak about their experiences without the fear of judgment or misunderstanding. Trained staff with clinical sensitivities to the LGBTQ community can provide this level of care which contributes to clients’ well-rounded recovery

Such “queer normative” treatment programs also need to integrate ongoing prevention plans to help clients avoid relapsing once they reach sobriety. Apart from building a recovery community, they also provide an affirming community. In the end, these treatment plans cannot succeed without the families of the recovering individuals. Parents and family members also need to adopt similar practices to aid in their loved one's recovery from the damaging influence of drugs and alcohol.

People from the LGBTQ community face many barriers to receiving quality treatment. Traditional treatment plans that do not consider sexual identity and its cultural sensitivities not only fail to treat them, but may also compound the trauma and stigma. At South Florida Intervention, we help LGBTQ individuals and their families find the best queer-normative or LGBTQ-affirming treatment programs. Our professionally-trained interventionists have helped many teens and young adults in not only recovering from addiction, but also in rebuilding their family relationships. We have also encouraged and coached parents onboard towards this goal. It is our commitment to connect you with trusted health professionals who have plenty of experience in this area. Apart from recovering coaching and parent coaching, we also offer detailed case management. Furthermore, we provide sober escort service for people who are in the early sobriety stage of their recovery. We are here to help, and you can trust our expertise. Call us at (202) 390-2273.