Our core mission at Harmony Place is to provide compassion and care to our clients as channels to respect and dignity. Our patient-centered ideology extends to our treatment of LGBT substance abuse to provide members of the LGBTQ community with the best treatment possible. For members of the LGBT community experiencing addiction and substance abuse, this means that our treatment professionals are sensitive to your unique and specific needs.
Currently, research concludes that addiction treatment must address any of the following existing factors in the life of LGBTQ patients such as homophobia, transphobia, familial problems, violence, or social ostracization if treatment is to be effective. With treatment programs that are sympathetic to the needs of the LGBTQ community, we provide you or your loved one with support, guidance, and the very best in expert and clinical care.
Substance Abuse in the LGBTQ Community
There are studies that show a higher rate of substance abuse among members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community. One study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 2.6 million LGBTQ community members, ages 18 and older, had a substance abuse disorder in 2019.
Unfortunately, these numbers are largely attributed to the mental distress that is caused by external factors. To cope with the hardships that are thrown at the community, some members turn to drugs or alcohol. This method of coping is dangerous and can lead to the development of a substance use disorder that has physical and psychological ramifications.
Physical Consequences of LGBTQ Substance Abuse
Mental distress is often a contributing factor in cases of LGBTQ substance abuse. Substances can produce the desired effect of temporarily numbing uncomfortable feelings. Unfortunately, this relief is short-lived. Rather than making life easier to cope with, substance abuse can have many physical repercussions, adding to the stress in one’s daily life. Some of the physical consequences of substance abuse include:
- Various types of cancer
- Loss of routine and hygiene
- Heart attack, stroke, or death
- Injury while under the influence
- Increased risk of cardiovascular issues
Psychological Consequences of Substance Abuse
Substance abuse may also have adverse consequences that lead to a worsening of personal circumstances or mental health. Drug and alcohol abuse can cause a person to lose control of their life. Consequently, this often leads to more substance abuse to deal with the additional duress that addiction causes.
Some of the psychological consequences of substance abuse include:
- Worsening of existing mental illnesses
- Negative effects of psychoactive substances
These consequences are why specialized LGBTQ substance abuse treatment is necessary to address the unique concerns in an individual’s life. Traditional treatments help individuals stay sober during the recovery process, however, the stressors in a person’s life must be addressed. Our holistic approach means that the whole person is taken into consideration. With their specific needs in mind, the best treatment possible can then be provided to produce sustained sobriety.
What Factors are Contributing to LGBT Substance Abuse?
People who are a part of the LGBTQ community often face challenges that heterosexual people do not. Social stigma, discrimination, risks of harassment and violence, and other challenges are some of the stressors that LGBTQ individuals may face daily. These stressors can put community members at risk for various behavioral health issues and substance use disorders.
Some psychological disorders and emotional issues that can result from stressors that the LGBTQ community faces are:
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal ideation
- Major depression
- High levels of stress
- Generalized anxiety disorder
The presence of a co-occurring mental disorder may mean that addiction was a result of attempting to self-medicate. Whether substance abuse stems from a mental disorder or was perpetrated by one, we focus on addressing all possible stressors in an individual’s life to provide the highest chance of sustained sobriety. Other factors that may contribute to an addiction, which we address in personalized therapy include:
Social Stigma and Discrimination
While acceptance of members of the LGBTQ community is growing, there is still a prevalence of homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination in the United States. Discrimination can come from different people in the lives of LGBTQ community members such as family, friends, strangers, and acquaintances. Additionally, there is the threat of harassment in the workplace, bullying at school, or hate crimes while in public.
Many members are forced to live their life “in the closet,” to avoid negative reception of their sexuality or gender expression. This is when a member of the LGBTQ community hides their sexuality or gender identity to avoid discrimination. While this is conducted as an act of self-preservation, living a closeted life produces many negative side effects as keeping one’s true self a secret takes a psychological toll which can worsen mental health.
Lack of Support
When individuals make the choice to come out, there is also the risk of rejection by the people in their life. A lack of support in the lives of community members may contribute to substance abuse. Strained relationships with family, friends, peers at school, or coworkers make life unnecessarily difficult and contribute to debilitating feelings of loneliness or anxiety.
For those who chose not to come out, living life with the fear of being found out is highly stressful. Having to live a double life or living with the fear of rejection can cause LGBTQ community members to use drugs or alcohol to numb their pain. This can cause more problems or widen the rift between the individual and their loved ones as substance abuse contributes to the chance of someone becoming homeless, turning to crime, or destroying their finances.
Exposure to anti-gay stigma can cause someone to hold those beliefs. This happens regardless of the fact that the person is a member of the community that is being stigmatized. This is called internalized homophobia. LGBTQ individuals who experience internalized homophobia self-identify with negative and harmful ideas about themselves and their community. This can lead to self-loathing or a feeling of being uncomfortable in one’s own skin.
To escape the negative thoughts and feelings caused by internal homophobia, LGBTQ individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol for relief. First, individuals may use substances in an attempt to express themselves freely. A community member may feel more emboldened to be themself when under the influence. On the other hand, substances may be used to quiet negative thoughts and numb the pain of their feelings.
It is common for members of the LGBTQ community to suffer from anxiety disorders, clinical depression, or chronic stress. Other psychiatric problems, mood disorders, and eating disorders are also common in addition to LGBT substance abuse. Personal complications regarding family, home life, or relationships can all contribute to the development of a mental illness or perpetuate an existing one.
Mental health disorders play some kind of role in almost half of all drug and alcohol addiction cases. When a patient suffers from a mental disorder and an addiction, dual diagnosis treatment is necessary. This type of treatment works to address both a mental illness and a substance use disorder to ensure an addiction goes into remission.
Why LGBTQ Substance Abuse Requires Specialized Treatment
When a treatment program is sensitive to the needs of the LGBTQ community, it provides therapy that focuses on the underlying issues unique to the individual’s life. Engaging in LGBTQ substance abuse treatment programs is instrumental for recovery. Specialized programs, such as an LGBTQ substance abuse treatment program, can also provide services that traditional programs cannot.
Depending on the severity of an addiction, different types of treatment may be necessary. For example, an intense addiction may require a patient to attend our inpatient treatment program for 24/7 care. Here at Harmony Place, we provide treatment at every level of care including:
- Transitional Living
- Outpatient Treatment
- Residential Treatment
- Aftercare and Alumni Programs
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
Our programs provide a full continuum of care to all of our patients as some patients require multiple types of treatment to become sober and achieve life-long sobriety. For example, a patient may need to first attend detox to safely eliminate drugs or alcohol from their system. Next, they may attend inpatient treatment before transitioning to outpatient. Eventually comes aftercare and alumni programs which work to help patients maintain sobriety.
LGBTQ Substance Abuse Treatment Therapies
Within our clinical programs, we use an evidence-based approach to treatment. Additionally, to meet the needs of our patients, we provide many different modalities. With a wide range of therapies and amenities, the best treatment plan to address LGBT substance abuse can be created for you or a loved one. Some of the therapies and amenities available here at Harmony Place include:
- Group Outings
- 12-Step Facilitation
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Gym and Fitness Training
- Yoga, Reiki, and Meditation
- Community Support Meetings
- Relapse Prevention Education
- Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy
- Individual, Group, and Family Therapy Sessions
- Holistic Therapy, Energy Work, and Mindfulness
- Nutritional Therapy, Art Therapy, and Psychodrama Therapy
- Massage Therapy, Acupuncture Therapy, and Chiropractic Care
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
Specialized Treatment for LGBTQ Substance Abuse from Harmony Place
LGBTQ substance abuse can occur as a result of underlying issues that our treatment professionals understand. As a result, our focus on the elements that have contributed to addiction allows us to provide a better quality of care compared to non-specialized programs.
If you or someone you know is in need of LGBTQ substance abuse treatment, we at Harmony Place are here to help. Our holistic and specialized programs take into consideration the unique factors in your life that contribute to substance abuse or a co-occurring mental illness. Contact us today to begin the journey to a life that is completely free from drug or alcohol abuse. Our compassionate staff is ready and willing to assist you!