Category Archives: Blog

LGBTQ addiction treatment

LGBT Affirming Care Addiction Treatment

LGBTQ addiction treatmentOur nation and the world-at-large continues to be afflicted by the devastating epidemic of the disease of addiction. Those affected are friends, family and loved ones from all walks of life. As is the case with most diseases, it is known that addiction does not discriminate. There are no types of individuals or communities of people that are invulnerable.

The reach of this condition is widespread. It is likely that most everyone knows somebody who has been through addiction treatment, but for those who have not experienced its nuances first-hand, the particulars are unclear. What is the addiction treatment experience like? For those who are LGBT, this question might also be met with an element of curiousity about comfortability and acceptance that is not a guarantee for those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Those who work in the field and those who have been in treatment often come to realize that addiction treatment is not an exact science. There are numerous philosophies and approaches. One aspect that can be agreed upon is that addiction and mental health tend to go hand-in-hand.

Self-Acceptance and Society Acceptance

What exactly is mental health? Understanding the scope of one’s mental health and the incredible numbers of people who live with a mental illness or mental stress can be as murky of waters as an outsider understanding of the world of addiction treatment. For our purposes, it will be sufficient to define mental health as a person’s ability to be content and at peace in their life. The opInspire-Recovery-LGBTQ-Recoveryposite: discontentment and inner turmoil and conflict can lead to the powerful urge to hide and escape.

In our society, we have greater access to alcohol and other substances than therapy, trauma healing, resources such as balanced nutrition and exercise or even peer counseling other than hanging out with friends. Generally speaking, when we are not feeling great mentally or physically we will often resort to alcohol and substances as a coping mechanism. This is one way to clearly define why so many people turn to drugs and alcohol instead of self-help or community-supported opportunities to get well and feel good.

The LGBTQ+ community has a 20-30 percent higher risk of addiction and increased the potential of family rejection, school bullying, lack of positive role models and increased risk of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Again, drugs and alcohol often seem like the way to make our problems seem less heavy and make light of our difficulties. When you look at the root causes of a person’s addiction you can often better understand how their use turned into dependency.

How do we revitalize fit mental health in order to give people the tools and coping skills to walk through life drug and alcohol-free? Where do we find the answer to that age-old question: how do we find happiness? A simple answer is that cultivating self-love and an inclusive encouraging community are good places to start.

An unfortunate truth is that our society has long been in the habit of excluding people, making outcasts of those who are different and pushing them to the fringes and the outskirts. This characteristic of our society inevitably finds its way into addiction rehab.

At Inspire Recovery, our experience was that the LGBT community has frequently had negative experiences in addiction treatment and statistically their stays in treatment have so often been unsuccessful in solving their substance-use disorders. Those who are LGBTQIA+ (an evolving acronym that written this way includes queer, questioning, intersex, asexual and plus other sexual orientations and gender identities) can face the same lack of understanding and the same lack of acceptance that they have always been confronted with in the outside world. This obviously does not lend towards encouraging self-love and cultivating a sense of being a part of a community, those things we have established are integral to fostering happiness and strong mental health.

The Inspire Recovery Affirming Approach

Inspire-Recovery-GoodnessInspire Recovery is an exceptional and special place for LGBTQIA+ individuals who are struggling with addiction to receive the kind of care and attention they need for several key reasons, one of which is the concept of LGBTQIA-affirming care.

Counselors and therapists at Inspire Recovery are proud to celebrate the sexual orientation and gender identity of the clientele and recognize that these are important aspects of personhood. Our staff creates the space needed for people to openly discuss and display their true selves—which are often characteristics many people in our hetero-centric society deem to be “too gay” or “weird” or “freakish.” Not at Inspire, we know there are many colors in the rainbow!

It is essential for people recovering from addiction to reach self-acceptance and to begin to take pride in who they truly are. This is why actively affirming a person’s gender identity and what a person knows their sexual orientation to be is crucial. These aren’t topics to be swept aside or go undiscussed. These are rich components of what makes someone a unique and special person. Exploring these subjects freely in group therapy and individual therapy is what it means to create a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community in recovery from addiction.

Inspire Recovery as an institution and an inclusive community is always evolving. The dedicated staff is ceaselessly working with motivation towards ending homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and heterosexism. Here’s what this looks like in action:

  • Providing in-house training to all staff. We love training our staff and yours! Find out more about our extensive educational packages by contacting: Directors@InspireRecovery.com
  • Update your admissions process, intake forms and housing policies so they are transgender-inclusive. There are a number of key procedures that centers need to incorporate if providing care for trans individuals. Contact us to find out more.
  • Rigorously confronting anti-LGBTQIA+ behavior and comments when we hear it or see it. This includes at our center. Just because someone is LGBT doesn’t mean they are sensitive to everyone in the rainbow club. We are cultivating community through accountability and transparency. Honesty is our policy.
  • If your treatment center is dedicated to creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ clients, be sure the BHTs know how to approach a client who is using derogatory language. Often it is the other clients at a center that make an LGBTQ+ individual want to leave. Be consistent. It’s not just therapists who need to be culturally aware and sensitive.
  • Affirming and using a person’s gender pronouns. At your center, if you have a transgender or non-binary client – introduce yourself and ask them “What pronouns do you use?” If you are trans* or non-binary and needing addiction recovery support – we suggest being upfront with the staff about your gender identity and let them know what name you use and what pronouns you use. This can help people become more familiar with supporting trans* folks in addiction treatment!
  • Addiction professionals – seek education about the LGBTQIA+ community outside of asking clients personal questions about their gender identity or sexuality. If you don’t receive formal training you can educate yourself by getting SAMHSA guides (there are currently three publications they have available about providing care for LGBT individuals in recovery) as well as checking out YouTube, TED Talks, researching articles online – the ocean of information is big and there are many books to support you as well. Email us if you need support.
  • And of course, you can ask questions in a sensitive manner to better understand our clients and who they are, and more. The key is to be cautious and ask IF you can ask them something that is probably quite personal. If it’s super personal you probably don’t need to ask it. When was the last time someone asked you about how you have sex? Keep clear of those questions.
  • You can put up a few signs around the center that colorfully states “Safe Space for All” or “Discrimination will not be tolerated.” This is a subtle way to remind people that bullying of any kind is not allowed.

At Inspire Recovery, our mission is to provide a safe space for the LGBTQ community to recover from addiction and find lasting happiness in their lives. We humble ourselves every day in knowing that some of our greatest teachers are our clients. As the staff of Inspire Recovery, we invite more centers to step up on the inclusively and unequivocally acceptance of LGBTQ folks—especially those who are transgender. Today, trans individuals are facing an enormous amount of discrimination while continuing to break new ground and forging new frontiers every year—teaching us how to live authentically and what gender is diversity is all about.

Together, we can create a solution to the addiction epidemic and we can eliminate the discrimination and exclusion that has pushed so many in the LGBTQIA+ community into its grips over the years. Contact us today to find out how we can support your center in gaining LGBT-affirming knowledge that can save the lives of many!

Trans Experience LGBTQI Focused Addiction Rehab Vogue

“Vogue” – Impoverished Women of Color & Trans Experience – My 1st Glimpse of Me

The basic human need to be watched was once satisfied by God.

In 1990 Madonna released her single “Vogue”. A window into a microcosm was opened for mainstream society peering at a staple and genius solely invented by the LBGTQ community. 1991’s Jennie Livingston’s documentary film “Paris is Burning” was the first time I witnessed a representation of people I found myself in and as a questioning teen it was the first time I found the language for what I was. I don’t know if I would have found the bravery to pursue my authenticity and my true being had I not stumbled upon this work of art in the seventh grade. I find it utterly inspiring and miraculous these impoverished women of color and the trans experience were able to create decadence and their own tribal system in the shadow of the age of Ronald Reagan and the dawn of Donald Trump. Embracing their femininity and awakening their empowerment through movement and dance.

The Trans Experience That Showed Me Who I Am

A universal safe space of celebration and unity was established in the Ball house scene. For people who were forced to live anonymously and in the shadows the Ball scene provided a place of sanctuary and encouragement to be who you are and using your talents and aesthetics that were otherwise rejected and ridiculed to compete and transcend the pains of everyday living experienced by trans and queer people. The goal being to accentuate one’s own femininity or masculinity, based on being able to blend and adapt within outside hetero-normative culture or in over the top lavish displays of  sensuality, sexuality, and sassiness. One of the aspects of humanity I find most fascinating is the undying need and wish to be witnessed. It’s the essence of all the arts and a driving force into finding our purpose here on Earth.

It saddens me that outside of the LBGTQ community this part of history isn’t valued, and these complex multi faceted creative ingenuities have been crunched up spit out and lumped into only being perceived as drag queens. For the first time in the history of media however, Ryan Murphy has produced a television Series titled “Pose” which centers around five trans women played by trans women navigating 1980’s NYC and the ball scene. It’s my hope that this is the first step in reflecting the lives of trans woman to the general public in a way that let’s us be seen as human rather than something to be tokenized and gawked at.

fentanyl

Fentanyl in Florida

As of October 2017 a law has been in effect in Florida that allows for drug dealers to be charged with felony murder if synthetic drugs they sold led to a death by overdose. Over the past decade the trend of either mixing lethal synthetic opioids into heroin or selling the synthetics themselves as heroin has spurred a drastic rise in overdose deaths throughout the U.S.

These synthetic opioids are exponentially more powerful and dangerous than typical opioids. The most common synthetic opioid, fentanyl, is 100 times more potent than morphine. Another synthetic, carfentanil, is 100 times stronger than fentanyl is. At this potency tiny amounts of these drugs can be lethal.

Since the Florida law allowing prosecutors to charge the drug dealers who sell these chemicals to users who overdose with murder roughly 80 people in Miami-Dade County have died of overdoses from synthetic opioids. No dealers have been charged with murder under the new law.

Tying an overdose death to a specific drug dealer can be challenging and dependant on many variables. Are the dealer’s fingerprints on the bag? Are there witnesses? Is there a link of telephone communication between the dealer and the overdose victim? Obtaining evidence can be tricky and it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the synthetic opioids came from.

Fentanyl Everywhere

Today, it may be hard to locate heroin that isn’t laced with fentanyl anywhere. The Mexican drug cartels are now predominantly dealing in heroin mixed with the synthetic opioid because of its far greater potency. It’s referred to as el diablito, the little devil.

Some cartel heroin producers attest almost no one is making pure heroin anymore. The cartel drug producers are obtaining precursor chemicals from China and they’re learning from chemists how to manufacture their own fentanyl. The fentanyl is mixed with heroin and smuggled into the United States.

Law enforcement is also seeing bulk shipments of fentanyl arriving from Mexico, not mixed with heroin. Dealers in the U.S. are starting to sell just the fentanyl as heroin, while in reality the product contains no heroin whatsoever. The fatally potent fentanyl is diluted with caffeine, quinine, powder laxatives, or anything at all. In Florida, fentanyl has also been found to be mixed in with Cocaine. All this is adding more complication to the ongoing drug addiction epidemic now gripping the country.

Do I Drink Too Much Alcohol-LGBTQI

Do I drink too much alcohol?

Perhaps you have found yourself wondering, do I drink too much alcohol? Chances are if you are questioning your drinking habits, there is a problem. Alcohol has ingrained itself in LGBTQ social culture as a mainstay at get-togethers, clubs, and functions. It is easy to develop a problem with alcohol without realizing it before it’s too late.

The Facts

According to a government publication focused on drug and alcohol consumption of members of the LGBTQ community, sexual minorities are more likely to participate in binge drinking consisting of up to and over 5 drinks at once. Studies show that the percentages range anywhere from 20% to 30% higher than in the heterosexual population.

Many factors contribute to these statistics including family and personal relationships and cultural norms. If you feel that you are developing an alcohol problem, know that you are not alone. Alcohol addiction affects a high number of people belonging to the LGBTQ community. Fortunately, there are programs that specialize in treating drug and alcohol addiction affecting people belonging to the LGBTQ community.

The Signs

What are some of the factors that have you asking, do I drink too much alcohol? Beware of some of the following signs of a developing alcohol problem:

  • Drinking Daily
  • Consuming more than 3 drinks at once regularly
  • A need to drink when with friends
  • Binge drinking (5 or more drinks)
  • Loss of memory after drinking

If you have noticed any of these behaviors, it may be time to seek help. Alcohol addiction is a serious problem that can not only affect your health, but it can also create legal issues or even cause a wreck or other injury to you or someone else.

Seek Help

There is a professional facility that specializes in assisting in the recovery process for LGBTQ members. Inspire Recovery has highly trained, caring staff that is sensitive to the needs of our LGBTQ community members, and are committed to your well-being and recovery. Contact us today and look forward to a brighter tomorrow.

West Virginia Opioid Crisis

West Virginia Opioid Crisis

Kermit is a dot on the map. It’s a town in West Virginia with a population of about 400 people. Over a two-year period, one pharmacy in Kermit was flooded with almost 9 million pills of addictive opioid painkillers from wholesale prescription drug distributors. Other small towns in West Virginia have also experienced receiving exorbitant amounts of powerful opioids from wholesale distributors. From 2006 to 2014, the Family Discount Pharmacy in Mount Gay-Shamrock received nearly 12.5 million doses of opioids and the town of Williamson, West Virginia received 10.5 million pills. So let’s take a look at this West Virginia Opioid Crisis.

Prescription Drug Distributing Companies Questioned about their Role in the West Virginia Opioid Crisis

In early May this year, 2018, wholesale drug distributing companies Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and others were called to testify before a House Energy and Commerce committee regarding inquiries into these companies’ involvement in West Virginia towns receiving the massive amounts of addictive opioids. The drug distribution companies expressed condolences about the impact of the West Virginia opioid crisis but skirted responsibility with an official statement from the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, an association that represents them, “we need to be realistic and acknowledge that this epidemic was not caused by distributors who neither prescribe, manufacture nor dispense medicines.” But the drug distribution companies failed to report the suspicious amounts of opioids going into several small West Virginia towns and continued shipping millions of pills to those locations for years.

West Virginia has the country’s highest rate of opioid overdose fatalities, about 900 people a year. The situation with the West Virginia opioid crisis is very grim. Overdoses are killing so many that the state can’t keep up with the cost for funerals and burials for indigents. There’s no denying the obvious correlation between the sheer volume of opioids sent to the state and the reality of the crisis there.

The question was posed at the committee meeting which the drug companies were summoned to if they believe the conduct of their companies has been a contributing factor in the opioid epidemic and the West Virginia opioid crisis. Four out of five of the executives of the companies summoned replied, “No.” Cardinal Health, one of the distributing companies questioned by the committee panel is involved in more than 300 lawsuits with local and state governments having to do with their involvement in irresponsibly distributing painkillers at this time.

Gay Men Crystal Meth Addiction Rehab

Should I go to Rehab for my Crystal Meth Addiction?

Finding a rehab for a crystal meth addiction that will meet your unique needs as a member of the LGBTQ community can help you get clean and sober and stay that way.

I can’t stop doing meth. Should I go to a crystal meth rehab if I’m addicted?

The short answer? Yes. Treatment at a crystal meth rehab can help you kick this dangerous drug and get your life back on track.

Should I seek a recovery program tailored to LGBTQ people?

Again, yes. LGBTQ addiction and relapse rates are higher than those of heterosexuals. Members of the LGBTQ community face challenges like discrimination because of the way society views gender dysphoria, various gender expressions, and same-sex relationships. For these reasons, a crystal meth rehab with an LGBTQ staff can help you address your specific needs in a safe and comfortable therapeutic environment.

Which types of treatment are available in a crystal meth rehab?

A Day/Night program, much like a partial hospitalization (PHP) program, provides a high level of care for people in early recovery. Within the first 30 days, relapse is likely and this type of program will give your mind and body a chance to stabilize and help you avoid engaging in high-risk behaviors. This period of treatment is a time to assess your condition and come up with a treatment plan that will work for you. An LGBTQ rehab will help you to integrate better into a peaceful life long after you leave your treatment facility. The last thing you should be worrying about as you recover is oppression from your counselors and fellow patients.

An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) involves a total of nine or more hours of addiction education and structured counseling services three days a week. IOP includes individual therapy sessions, group therapy with other members of the LGBTQ community who are struggling with addiction, as well as psychiatric care, art therapy, holistic programs and nutritional counseling.

In an Outpatient Program, the amount of individual counseling and group therapy sessions you receive will vary, depending on your individual needs. With a strong foundation of coping skills that have been learning in previous treatment, being involved in the recovery community and a 12-step program or other recovery fellowship can give you the support you need to stay sober. Learning how to live a healthy lifestyle is essential, and an LGBT crystal meth rehab can help you learn how to put what you’ve learned into practice.

Pick up the phone and call our admissions department today to discuss how you can receive help at 561-899-6088.

suboxone maintenance

Medication-Assisted Treatment Debate

By Martel Bird

A relatively new paradigm in the treatment of addiction to opiates has come into vogue known as Medication-Assisted Treatment (M.A.T.). This form of treatment typically hinges on the prescription of a medication called Suboxone. Suboxone is a combination of the drugs buprenorphine, an opioid itself, and naloxone, a drug that, among other things, can block the euphoric high associated with opioids. This combination satisfies the physical craving for opiates, therefore deterring patients prescribed to it from taking street drugs to get high. M.A.T. is a subject of controversy among addiction treatment professionals.

Suboxone Maintenance

More often than not M.A.T. means long-term Suboxone maintenance, which is not dissimilar from methadone maintenance, a much older form of M.A.T. “Maintenance,” in this sense refers to a means of remaining abstinent from addictive opiates like heroin and prescription opioid painkillers by continually taking Suboxone. The main argument for long-term Suboxone maintenance is one of “harm reduction.” The stance is grounded in the idea that opiate addicts are generally unable to recover from their addiction. That being the case, keeping them on a prescribed Suboxone regiment will help them stay away from more dangerous drugs they’d be more likely to overdose on in the event of a relapse.

Some physicians and treatment professionals advocate for a short-term Suboxone treatment model. In this model, Suboxone is used to stabilize addicts in early recovery by avoiding the harsh withdrawal effects associated with opiates. After a short period of time, they can be tapered off Suboxone until they are opiate free. Others believe long-term treatment with Suboxone is more effective.

Statistically, people who remain on Suboxone for longer periods of time are less likely to relapse on heroin or prescription opioids. The trump card in the case for long-term Suboxone maintenance is that the number of deaths from overdoses can be cut nearly in half with recovering addicts who participate in Medication Assisted Treatment. This means a lot in the atmosphere of the nationwide deadly opioid addiction epidemic.

Exactly how long is “long-term?” How long is long enough? How long is too long? It’s difficult to make a blanket statement and the answers to those questions most likely depend on individual case considerations, but it’s disconcerting that some people remain on Suboxone for periods of time longer than ten years in this practice of treating opiate addiction with another opiate.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Suboxone can, in fact, be abused. It can be used to get high if injected, snorted or used in such a way that buprenorphine can be separated from the opioid receptor antagonist, naloxone. Also, Suboxone is often used as a way to simply stave off withdrawal symptoms before addicts can return to using their drug of choice. For people who are not addicted or accustomed to taking opiates, using Suboxone results in an intense high (and it can be a risk for fatal overdose). For these reasons, Suboxone has begun to be trafficked illegally on the street.

The emergence of Cash-Only Suboxone Clinics raises red flags because of the close similarity to the problem of the so-called “pill mill” pain clinics, where opioid pain medications became exceedingly over-prescribed, contributing in a big way to the now nationwide addiction epidemic. Combatants of Suboxone maintenance are wary that Suboxone is being over-prescribed in the same way. By and by, Suboxone is still an addictive substance and there are fortunes of wealth to be made for providers and manufacturers in peddling an addictive drug.

After long-term use, if someone decides they want to come off of Suboxone, the withdrawal period is longer and a markedly worse experience than it is with other opiates. It can last for months. Furthermore, research studies on potential negative health consequences related to long-term Suboxone maintenance are non-existent. There’s no certainty what the long-term effects could be.

Many believe that Suboxone maintenance doesn’t effectively treat the true nature of addiction, which is largely psychological. Regularly taking Suboxone can temporarily alleviate emotional pain, depression and anxiety, but the root causes of those afflictions are left untouched. In this way, Suboxone maintenance is like keeping a band-aid on an infected wound. Further harm may be kept at bay, but the real problem is left to fester just underneath the surface.    

LGBTQ Addiction Help

Is There LGBTQ Addiction Help Available?

Yes, we have LGBTQ addiction help at Inspire Recovery

The LGBTQ community is known for having a heightened level of addition beyond what people outside of the community experience. For more information, you may look at some statistics on the SAMHSA website*. After all, having to live in a world that does not respect you can hurt a lot. Fortunately, LGBTQ addiction help is available and you can get better, no matter how far down the path of addiction you may have fallen.

Getting Out

When you are in an environment that gives you feelings that are hard to deal with, this is when you are at the highest risk of using. Even if you are feeling fine at the moment, the wrong kind of people tend to be in toxic areas. The easy way to fall into active addiction or keep the cycle going is “just this once,” or that it is just “having a little fun.” It never stays fun in a toxic environment.

One problem that the LGBTQ community has in common with cisgendered* hetero-people is that the world is full of well-hidden toxic places. Getting out of one and into a more caring environment is often the first step to recovery.

Being Out

A traditional problem of LGBTQ people is that counseling requires you to be completely honest, and sometimes there is unspoken judgment. Particularly in traditional religious types of recovery centers, you can feel and you may actually be treated like a bad person just because you are part of the LGBTQ community. Coming out to the wrong people can start a whole new cycle of fear, anger and intolerance that can make using seem like the most sane option.

Help is available from counselors who are part of, or allies to, the LGBTQ community. These are people who care and who will not judge you for being who you naturally are. Real acceptance is a major part of healing the pains inside yourself, so the outer manifestation of using does not happen again.

Staying Out

The hardest part of any recovery is that it never endsan addict is an addict for life. However, you can build a better set of habits and beliefs that are more likely to keep you clean and sober for the long haul. It is never too late, no matter how bad things may seem. One place to get help from people who will not judge you is Inspire Recovery. Contact Inspire today, and start getting the help you need to live a life free of your addictions.

A Couple of Terms Used in this Article: 
*SAMHSA is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and they have excellent resources for people supporting LGBTQ clients in addiction treatment centers.

*Cisgender refers to a person whose gender corresponds to their birth sex. Because a person’s sexual anatomy does not always relate to their gender identity, terms like cisgender help to distinguish LGBTQ individuals, no matter what their sexual orientation is. That is to say that not all trans people are gay and not all cisgender people are straight. Gender identity is completely separate from sexual orientation and one does not dictate the other.

LGBTQIA Housing Rehab & Roomates

Who do I Room with if I am an LGBTQIA Addict or Alcoholic?

One might ask how exactly housing accommodations are regulated in an LBGTQIA-specific treatment facility for an LGBTQIA addict or alcoholic. I was lucky enough to have been a resident of Inspire Living for a little over a year and I can say with conviction it was overall the best living quarters I have experienced while attending rehab.

As a trans woman, previous institutions found the solution to my nature in putting me in a solitary room. While this did provide some comfort I believe it was counterproductive because rehab probably should not be comfortable. Being given an opportunity to isolate and not interact with others isn’t exactly a positive health choice in early recovery.

While at Inspire I had several roommates whom also identified as women and many of whom were trans. I’m grateful to have had the comradery and community of not only other women in recovery but women who were also within the trans-experience. I’m still in regular contact with one of my past roommates from Inspire Living, who I consider to be my best friend. I believe the staff geared matching people upon reading a vibe rather than what was between their legs. I truly benefited from this self-affirming Kinsey Scale approach, having been subjected to isolation and living with men in treatment in the past.

Living in treatment or a halfway house can be an emotional roller coaster. People come and go, your personal baggage is dumped out, you laugh, you cry, argue over dishes. In hindsight, I certainly took some of my time for granted. It is really something else when you have a surrogate family of individuals who can relate to not only being desperate and addicted but also oppressed and persecuted. I would say that living in a house with all the contrasting shades of human expression and individuality was certainly never boring and very refreshing.

If you are suffering from drugs and alcohol and part of the LGBTQIA community, I strongly suggest you give Inspire Recovery a call at 561-899-6088.

LGBTQI Focused Addiction Rehab

Why Are LGBTQIA Focused Addiction Rehabs Vital to Recovery?

My war with addiction began when I was 12 years old. After moving to Florida and hitting puberty I was faced with an onslaught of feelings and ailments I didn’t know had a name, let alone how to cope with them in daily life. I now know I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and what is known as Gender Dysphoria. I started taking Xanax to medicate myself and coast through life and didn’t look back for 8 years.

My first experience in an institution, I was 15 years old. I was not living as my authentic self at that time and drifted in and out of the mental health care system and substance abuse programs for years. I felt like a ghost in a shell  and wasn’t able to properly heal myself, not knowing who I was. When I was 21 I entered a treatment facility for the first time identifying as female. After an exasperated quarrel with both the facility and my insurance company they agreed to put me in a private room in the senior facility. The treatment center felt as though staying with my peers would be too high risk for me. I find that notion completely ridiculous. As if staying with a bunch of detoxing baby boomers in an isolated chamber would be a productive safety net? This unfortunately was the only half-assed measure taken to accommodate me as a transgender client. My time in treatment was not actually spent tackling my issues with addiction. I spent so much time explaining myself and who I was in the context of being Trans that I had no energy left and certainly didn’t have the trust needed to divulge any part of my wounded self in therapy. A facilitator even made a sidebar comment on how I could make more of an effort and put on makeup if I wanted to be addressed properly. I was in the midst of detoxing from opiates, benzodiazepines, amphetamines and alcohol. My insides and outsides were falling out and off. Make up wasn’t exactly a priority.

I developed an almost impenetrable set of defense mechanisms to tolerate constantly being pigeon holed and dehumanized. It came as no surprise that I relapsed shortly after being discharged and continued to downward spiral. Luckily I made it back and discovered Inspire Recovery, where I cultivated my longest period of sobriety. An LBGTQI focused environment allowed me to get the breathing space I desperately needed to get my shit together. The sense of community and acceptance was essential in healing. I could actually carry out conversations with people without a raised eyebrow or calling my entire being into question. It was truly a breath of fresh air and a blessing. I came to truly appreciate my experience there a year later after a brief relapse and stint in another facility.

And now, here’s what it was like at another facility. The residency there was enforced by a religious zealot who would lock me out of the bathroom and find other creative ways to degrade and silence me. I became unhinged and reactive. I smashed a dresser in my room. I subsequently was removed and committed to a lock-down psych unit where i was administered haldol without my consent and was taken off my hormone regiment. Thankfully due to the dedication of my family and sober supports I was rescued and sent to another LBGTQI oriented treatment center that could actually help me. This dark period really taught me not to take things for granted, especially my time at Inspire. The importance of education in gender studies and an all inclusive environment is completely vital to treating a case like me and I hope for a future where the marginalized of the marginalized can be less, well marginalized.