Specialized addiction treatment program for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender LGBTQ+ community have evolved over the years as an increasing number of individuals are revealing their sexual orientation and gender identity. Thanks to greater awareness and widespread access to information, LGBT individuals and their families have resources to learn more about each other, and informed practitioners are changing the way they approach substance abuse treatment with individual counseling, family education and client-centered treatment plans.
The movement to remove stigma and discrimination related to LGBTQ+ populations has helped more individuals to come out and identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but since federally funded surveys have only recently begun to include information about the sexual orientation and gender identification of survey participants, little is known about the long-term trends of substance abuse in LGBTQ populations. To date, the most recent data we have comes from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). Results from the national survey show that sexual minorities are more likely to have a mental illness (AMI), a serious mental illness (SMI) and a major depressive episode (MDE) than their sexual majority counterparts.
A major component of New Method Wellness’s LGBTQ treatment program is the inclusion of family members in their family group therapy. Historically, research has shown that the first source of stigma stems from parents and/or caregivers in the way they respond to loved ones who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. In addition to providing individual counseling and peer support to clients, New Method Wellness makes an intentional effort to include the family because of the role they play in a person’s health and well-being. The double stigma of addiction plus identification as LGBT individuals puts sexual minorities at significantly higher risks for substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders than their non-LGBT peers. Our culturally competent addiction therapists help strengthen family ties between clients and their loved ones through LGBT resources and ongoing support throughout the treatment program.
Why is it important to be familiar with terms related to the LGBTQ+ community? Terms and definitions are highly personal to those who identify as a sexual minority; familiarizing oneself with them will show sensitivity and acceptance while diminishing the risk of unintentional microaggressions.
This is the gender one identifies with internally, regardless of the biological identity assigned at birth.
This refers to the gender that is expressed externally (e.g., through clothing, body movements and choice of activities). Gender expression may or may not be consistent with gender identity.
Completely different from gender identity and gender expression, sexual orientation refers to one’s emotional, sexual, and relational attraction to another person. An individual identifies his or her sexual orientation as being heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual (lesbian or gay).
Adjective used most often as an umbrella term, and frequently abbreviated to “trans.” This adjective describes a wide range of identities and experiences of people whose gender identity and/or expression differs from conventional expectations based on their assigned sex at birth. Not all trans people undergo medical transition (surgery or hormones). Some commonly held definitions:
This is a gender identity that matches the sex assigned at birth.
Individuals who identify as genderqueer feel that their gender identity and/or expression cannot be solely expressed as male or female.
In our present society, sexual minorities have a greater need for substance abuse treatment, but they are less likely to seek recovery unless they can find a specialty facility such as New Method Wellness that delivers culturally sensitive, research-based dual diagnosis treatment for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Heterosexist attitudes may be present in addiction counselors who are uninformed about LGBTQ+ issues, which create cultural barriers in dual diagnosis treatment. Only in recent years have researchers begun to increase their awareness for the health care needs of this population.
New Method Wellness transcends cultural barriers with successful interventions and dual diagnosis treatments specific to the needs of the LGBTQ+ community. Our welcoming, open environment invites clients to enter a non-discriminatory treatment program that utilizes evidence-based clinical and holistic methods to treat addiction and co-occurring disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal ideation, generalized anxiety disorder and major depression. Physical and health issues that are unique to the LGBTQ+ community include compulsive sexual behavior, HIV-related anxiety, sexual abuse or assault, and sexual dysfunction. Our culturally competent addiction psychologists help clients address the effects of societal marginalization, which poses additional obstacles for clients seeking treatment, such as the following: