Our 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.
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 opposite: 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.
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.
Inspire 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:
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!