LGBTQ+ is an umbrella-term acronym that represents people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning. The plus sign at the end is an inclusionary symbol to signify those who identify as another sexual identity, such as pansexual, two-spirit, and non-binary. In the face of acceptance amongst each other, the LGBTQ+ community faces many societal challenges. Members have difficulty obtaining adequate healthcare, from gender-affirming therapies to addiction treatment.
Although LGBTQ+ awareness and acceptance have grown immensely in the past decade, there’s still more work to be done to improve critical care standards by ensuring medical providers are educated on the community’s needs to safeguard better outcomes for its members.
LGBTQ+ individuals still deal with the heavy stigma surrounding their gender and sexuality among the general public in spite of recent movements promoting representation and allyship. Still, many are at risk of discrimination, loss of employment, abuse, hate crimes, homelessness, and more. Unfortunately, these stressful circumstances can lead to poor mental health. With a lack of accessibility to healthcare, some members of the LGBTQ+ community seek out coping mechanisms such as substance misuse.
In fact, over 39% of LGBTQ+ adults reported illicit drug use compared to a rate of about 17% of the overall adult population in the US. Among the LGBTQ+ adults misusing substances, nearly 52% grapple with illicit drugs, almost 65% deal with alcohol use, and more than 16% report struggling with both. Studies also show that LGBTQ+ folks tend to have more severe cases of substance use disorders than heterosexuals while facing a 120% increased risk of experiencing homelessness, especially the younger subset.
In order to make addiction recovery programs effective for LGBTQ+ identifying people, the current evidence-based treatment methods must be more specifically tailored to include therapies that focus on the community’s unique issues. Specialized substance use disorder research and treatment planning should consist of medical providers who understand LGBTQ+ patients while providing safe spaces for them to seek individual and group counseling. Because members of this community are at heightened risk of experiencing other health concerns alongside addiction, including overall health and wellness oversight along with treatment is also vital.
Most of all, those aligned with LGBTQ+ tend to crave community and thrive when they feel safe and free to be their true selves. Trust is an important factor when members of the LGBTQ+ community open up and share their past struggles, experiences that often lead them to substance misuse from the start. Discussing and healing this unresolved trauma can immensely help patients heal and strive for better overall health. Creating addiction treatment programs that strictly denounce prejudice against those of non-heteronormative sexualities or cisgenders helps patients feel they can trust their medical providers and counselors.
Middlesex Recovery’s doors are open to anyone who feels they need help with substance misuse, regardless of race, religion, sexuality, or gender. The compassionate medical providers and staff at Middlesex Recovery outpatient offices understand that members of the LGBTQ+ community face more hurdles than most when seeking healthcare and are committed to helping every patient maximize their chances of reaching long-lasting recovery. To speak with an intake coordinator or learn more about substance use disorder treatment programs at Middlesex Recovery, message or call the nearest location today.