One thing that holds across the world of addiction treatment is that no one individual is the same, and as such, their treatment should reflect that. That being the case, many obstacles stand in the way of one’s recovery.
Some desire to live their lives free from scrutiny and hatred, but sometimes hate is louder than love. In the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community, substance abuse rates are incredibly high, but why is this?
The Hardships and Reality of Living as an LGBTQ Individual
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Sadly, there are many hardships that members of the LGBTQ community face, some of which include the following:
- Hate Crimes
- Emotional Abuse
- Physical Abuse
There are a lot of hardships that LGBTQ people face daily. Statistically speaking, the LGBTQ community suffers more from substance use disorder than any other demographic, and this is not by coincidence.
For example, according to some studies, LGBTQ adults are more than twice as likely than heterosexual adults to suffer from substance abuse. Not only that, but transgender students are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to use cocaine, meth, and prescription opioids/benzos.
How Trauma Affects Substance Abuse
Those who deal with trauma tend to be more likely to self medicate with drugs and alcohol as coping methods. This is the case in the LGBTQ community as well as many others. So why is this done?
Usually drugs and alcohol influence a feeling of euphoria or numbness, and as a result, real-life issues either become easier to deal with or are forgotten about entirely. This thought process leads many to become addicted to substances.
Due to the negative stigma surrounding transgender or homosexual people, many of them feel lonely or as though they are undeserving of love, which no human should ever have to experience. As mentioned above, this could lead to using and becoming addicted to substances.
LGBTQ and Depression
From the years upon years where gay marriage was illegal in the US, to the discrimination they face from some local businesses, there’s no question that LGBTQ life is difficult. Ever since the dawn of man, there has been collective hatred towards diversity of any sort.
Cultures have gone to war with each other over such indifference. Even in the 21st century, many hate others that are different from themselves and fail to embrace the beauty of uniqueness.
This has been the same story throughout all of human history. Most of the time this is because individuals are scared that their way of life will be threatened as a result of someone living theirs. As a result, many within the gay community have been impacted in a negative way psychologically.
When others feel as though they aren’t being treated fairly as equals, it is a sad reality to face. As a result, uncertainty and fear plague them. Naturally, this leads many to become depressed or anxious. Sometimes these mental health disorders already existed as a result of a chemical deficit.
Nonetheless, substance abuse could be pursued as a means of numbing the hurt. This is why research and understanding are imperative. A dual diagnosis may exist where someone never thought it did.
What is Dual Diagnosis?
Dual diagnosis, as alluded to above, is when someone suffers from a mental health disorder at the same time that they are suffering from a substance use disorder. This does not mean one must happen for the other to occur as well, but more so that they are happening at the same time. This is imperative to understand if one is to treat a dual diagnosis properly.
There is a massive difference between dual diagnosis and sequential disorders. If one is to treat another properly, this is imperative to understand. If not, a healthcare professional would misunderstand someone’s needs. Just because two diseases are occurring at the same time does not mean that one has influenced the other. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know definitively as to which one came first.
At FreeByTheSea, there are treatment options available for those who suffer from a dual diagnosis. Both mental health and substance abuse rehab go hand in hand for us here, and if you believe yourself or a loved one may be suffering, it may be time to get help. Our goal is to meet our patients wherever they are so that they recover to their full potential.
What Treatment Options are Available for LGBTQ People?
Treating substance use and mental health disorders are imperative to us at FreeByTheSea, and while some may benefit from dual diagnosis treatment, others may need something different.
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment method, and we believe that wholeheartedly. Many people who walk through our doors are unique individuals with different backgrounds. The treatment we offer should never try to change where a person came through, so individualized rehab is what we hold firmly to.
For example, some people suffer from more severe cases of addiction than others. In these circumstances, an inpatient treatment plan may be the best option for someone as opposed to outpatient treatment.
Alternatively, in regards to therapy, some work better in intimate environments while others progress further in a group setting. There’s no right or wrong method, there are just a plethora of options that work best for some individuals.
Inpatient residential treatment, meant for those who suffer from more severe cases of addiction, provides patients with 24/7 access to medical personnel. This method of care could last anywhere between 28 days to six months depending on the severity of one’s addiction. Those who participate in residential treatment options have weekly access to professional therapists and psychiatrists.
Lasting anywhere between six months to over a year, outpatient treatment methods are often used to treat milder cases of addiction. Not only that but sometimes outpatient treatment is often used for those who aren’t quite ready to make the jump to the world outside treatment.
This rehab method provides minimal disruption to one’s everyday life. This form of rehab offers individuals anywhere between 10-12 hours of weekly access to professional therapists and psychiatrists.
To become less dependent on a drug, someone needs to learn how to live without it, which can be difficult due to the withdrawal process. Withdrawal is a very real and difficult part of recovery, but there are ways to manage it. Medically assisted treatment (MAT) is used to help individuals come off of drugs gradually and comfortably by providing them with medicine that curbs the feelings of withdrawal.
Therapy in LGBTQ Treatment
Therapy is when qualified medical and psychological personnel help someone heal from whatever has been detrimental to them psychologically or physically.
There are many different kinds of therapy, such as individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. There is also cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) which is a kind of CBT. This kind of therapy aims to narrow down the processes by which people make their decisions and relate them to how they view themselves and the world around them.
Those who suffer from substance abuse in the LGBTQ community have known immense difficulty and discrimination in their lifetime. There have been many times they’ve questioned their lifestyle. Being told who to love is not something that someone can just brush off. There’s so much dynamically that goes into attraction and love.
When the majority of individuals’ relationships look different and some alienate those who are attracted to members of the opposite sex, coming out can be terrifying. As a result of all of this, there is trauma and heartache that yearns to be resolved. For this, therapy is a great start to healing.
Why Do Some Neglect Treatment?
There could be a plethora of reasons as to why an individual may not end up seeking help for their substance use disorder, some of which have to do with mental health disorders that affect motivation such as depression.
Sometimes people neglect treatment because they’re fearful of the stigma of shame. Other times, they aren’t so sure the idea of treatment even works for everyone.
At Free by the Sea, individuals can rest assured knowing that we offer individualized care as opposed to trying to force someone into a mold. Members of the LGBTQ community have spent too much time being told they have to reach a particular standard in terms of their lifestyle. Instead of having them fit our mold, we will fit theirs so that they are treated with the utmost dignity and respect.
Free by the Sea is Here for You
At Free By the Sea, we believe that every individual that walks through our doors is unique, and we want to celebrate those uniquenesses rather than shame them. We offer addiction treatment for different race, sexuality and age. Diversity is beautiful, and we are here to embrace it.
We want to empower individuals so that they can move far ahead of where they are and take pride in the person they’ll become, even if that person is gay or trans. If you or a loved one feel as though you’re alone, you’re not. There is a loving and understanding team here that will support you and celebrate you while treating you. If you’d like to find out more, you can contact us here.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.