LGBTQ Drug & Alcohol Rehab Centers
People who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction often benefit from treatment to help them stop substance abuse and start the path to recovery. Specialized rehab programs for certain populations, such as first responders, people in grief, and those in the LGBTQ community, can be helpful not only for addressing the substance abuse, but also addressing issues that are unique or important to members of these communities and populations.
According to statistics provided by the Movement Enhancement Project, there are more than 145,000 Nevadans over the age of 13 who identify with the LGBTQ community.1 A 2018 needs assessment conducted by the Nevada Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Agency reported that the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which is a study of risk behaviors among Nevada’s youth, showed that LGBTQ adolescents were more likely to use substances than their heterosexual peers. Furthermore, people who identify as LGBTQ appeared to have a 3-times higher risk of experiencing a mental health disorder, such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder, which can lead to substance abuse and other serious issues.2
If you or someone you care about is a member of the LGBTQ community, live in Nevada, and struggle with substance abuse, you should know that specialized LGBTQ recovery help is available to assist you, not just with addiction, but with the mental health issues that may be impacting your health, well-being, and functioning. Keep reading to find out more about LGBTQ drug and alcohol rehab in Las Vegas and how you can get help to recover from addiction.
How Are LGBTQ Rehab Centers Different?
Unlike a traditional rehab center, LGBTQ drug rehab is designed to specifically address LGBTQ issues often related to addiction, which have generally been unrecognized. A study published in the “Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling” pointed out that substance abuse and addictive disorders are usually not discussed openly within LGBTQ communities; in the same vein, there has been limited discussion traditionally about LGBTQ issues among addiction treatment providers and researchers.3 2nd paragraph
Avoiding the problem and not having the opportunity for open and honest discussion can leave you feeling isolated and alone, which can exacerbate addiction as well as compound mental health concerns. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that members of the LGBTQ community experience increased social stigma, discrimination, harassment, and other challenges not faced by members of the general population. 4 All of these issues can contribute to the development of a substance abuse issue.
Some people self-medicate their psychological and emotional pain with substances as a way to cope with or mask the problem, which can provide temporary relief but eventually result in serious mental and physical health problems. In addition to internal psychological or emotional issues playing a role in substance abuse, sociocultural issues are also a contributing factor to addiction among members of the LGBTQ community. A study published in the journal “Psychiatric Services,” examined the experiences of LGBTQ young adults through structured interviews to further understand the development of substance use disorders in this population. Participants explained that substance abuse was often a way of coping with minority stress (such as self-stigma and expectations of rejection) and interpersonal and structural (e.g., institutional) discrimination. Participants also explained that substances are easily found and commonly used in LGBTQ settings, which can also factor into the higher rate of substance use disorders in this population.5
In addition to mental health issues like depression and anxiety, some other factors that can cause LGBTQ members to cope through substance use can include the stress of coming out, homophobia, abuse, and discrimination.6 abstract How people cope with these issues varies because, while some LGBTQ members develop substance use issues, many others do not. The reasons for this are complex, but the “Psychiatric Services” study explained that stressors that come into play during identity development (early adolescence) may affect the likelihood of developing substance use disorders in young adulthood. The stressors that most study participants identified as issues during adolescence (which can impact later substance use) were mainly internal and included internalized stigma, concealment of identity, fear of identity disclosure, and fear of rejection. Stressors that came into play in later adolescence and early adulthood tended to be more externalized, such as environmental factors, interpersonal issues, and societal stressors.5
The level of family or parental acceptance of identity can play a protective or harmful role when it comes to the development of substance use disorders in LGBTQ members. A study in the “Journal of Child and Adolescent Nursing” examined how LGBTQ adolescents perceived parental reactions to their coming out and were asked whether they felt they received acceptance, rejection, or a neutral response from their parents. Rejection was reported to have a positive correlation with substance use, but acceptance did not necessarily directly reduce substance use.7
The Need for LGBTQ Rehab Centers
A study in the “Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment” pointed out that many LGBTQ members experience more severe substance abuse problems, greater psychopathology, and greater medical service utilization when compared with heterosexual clients.8 Research has shown that LGBTQ members are likely to reach out for help though; a paper published in “BMC Psychiatry” reported that 48.5% of lesbian/gay/bisexual individuals reported receiving mental health or substance abuse treatment in the past year, compared to 22.5% of heterosexuals.9
The need for specialized programs to treat substance use in the LGBTQ community is clear. Unfortunately, not many rehabs offer such services; for example, one study found that only 7.4% of programs offered specialized services for LGBT patients.4
A study in “Substance Abuse Rehabilitation” confirmed that specialized substance abuse treatment programs serving LGBTQ individuals have higher levels of effectiveness. Why are LGBTQ alcohol rehab and substance abuse programs successful at promoting understanding and healing from addiction as compared to rehabs for the general population? The reasons may be multifaceted and can be attributed to several factors, such as:6
- The ability of these programs to provide a nonjudgmental approach that is inclusive of sexual orientation. LGBTQ programs and their counselors need to be sensitive to the unique needs of people in this community. During the assessment process, counselors are aware of and ask about issues that could have played a role in the development of the addiction, such as the coming-out process, that do not impact the general population. This helps providers to create a more effective and functional treatment plan for their specific needs.
- Counselors in LGBTQ programs know they should avoid making assumptions about their clients, such as assuming that pregnancy and parenting issues aren’t important in treatment, or that certain health risks aren’t applicable (such as the idea that HIV only affects men).
- Treatment is informed by the specific needs of the person. For example, treatment providers understand that they should ask and refer to people by their pronoun of choice. This consideration can also be important when using treatment materials and textbooks, which typically show and discuss heterosexual examples.
- The issues that are faced by LGBTQ members are directly named and discussed. Issues like stigma, family rejection, and abuse need to be openly addressed for treatment to be effective. In addition, appropriate aftercare (such as community-based support groups) specifically designed for LGBTQ concerns needs to be available to provide support and help prevent relapse.
Things to Consider When Choosing an LGBTQ Rehab Center
When selecting an LGBTQ rehab center, it’s important to consider all your unique physical, mental, financial, and social health needs. You may wish to inquire about general issues, such as location, cost, payment options, and insurance coverage. However, you may also wish to factor in issues such as:4
- The training provided to staff members on LGBTQ issues.
- The aspects of the LGBTQ community that are represented at the rehab.
- The treatments and therapies that are offered. Different treatment approaches can be particularly helpful for LGBTQ members, including motivational interviewing, social support therapy, contingency management, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Treatment should be culturally tailored, sensitive, and adapted to address the specific issues affecting LGBTQ communities that can influence substance use. You may wish to inquire about the types of therapies offered in individual counseling sessions, group therapy, and whether the facility offers and encourages participation in 12-step or non-12-step support groups.
- Whether you will require detox, which is typically the first step in the recovery process. Detox is an intervention designed to help you stop using drugs or alcohol and become medically stable so that you can continue on to formal treatment.
- Whether treatment is inpatient or outpatient. If LGBTQ inpatient rehab is the best option for your needs, you may want to inquire whether they offer gender-inclusive housing.
- The overall treatment philosophy of the program.
Should I Travel for an LGBTQ Rehab Center
As previously mentioned, there are unfortunately not many treatment facilities that specifically cater to the LGBTQ population. If you are interested in this type of treatment, it may mean that you have a smaller pool of facilities to choose from, and you may need to consider whether you want to travel for rehab to another town or state to be able to access specialty treatment available at an LGBTQ rehab center.
If traveling is not an option, you could also consider looking into treatment facilities that may not offer specialty treatment—but do offer LGBTQ support groups. This can be a beneficial option when coupled with additional treatment offerings available at most rehabs, such as individual therapy, where you can work one-on-one with a counselor who is sensitive to LGBTQ issues. If you require treatment for a co-occurring mental health disorder, you should also ensure that the treatment facility is able to accommodate your mental health needs and concerns.
Finding an LGBTQ Rehab Center
American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of detox as well as inpatient and outpatient rehab in Nevada and nationwide. We welcome members of the LGBTQ community and offer specialized, customized treatment for both substance use disorders and any co-occurring mental health disorders you may struggle with. If you’re ready to reach out for help, please call our free, confidential 24/7 helpline to speak to a treatment advisor about the recovery options that are best for your needs.
We can be reached at 702-800-2682.
- Movement Enhancement Project. Nevada’s equality profile.
- Nevada Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Agency. (2018). Substance use, mental health, and suicide in Nevada.
- Chaney, M. & Brubaker, M. (2012). Addiction in LGBTQ communities: Influences, treatment, and prevention. Journal of LGBTQ Issues in Counseling, 6(4), 234-236.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. Substance Use and SUDs in LGBTQ* Populations.
- Felner, J. K., Wisdom, J. P., Williams, T., Katuska, L., Haley, S. J…& Corliss, H. L. (2020). Stress, coping, and context: Examining substance use among LGBTQ young adults with probable substance use disorders. Psychiatric Services, 71(2), 112–120.
- Stevens, S. (2012). Meeting the substance abuse treatment needs of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women: implications from research to practice. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 3(Suppl 1), 27–36.
- Ryan, C., Russell, S. T., Huebner, D., Diaz, R., & Sanchez, J. (2010). Family acceptance in adolescence and the health of LGBT young adults. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 23(4), 205–213.
- Cochran, B. N., & Cauce, A. M. (2006). Characteristics of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals entering substance abuse treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 30(2), 135–146.
- Grella, C. E., Greenwell, L., Mays, V. M., & Cochran, S. D. (2009). Influence of gender, sexual orientation, and need on treatment utilization for substance use and mental disorders: findings from the California Quality of Life Survey. BMC Psychiatry, 9, 52.
- Mericle, A. A., de Guzman, R., Hemberg, J., Yette, E., Drabble, L., & Trocki, K. (2018). Delivering LGBT-sensitive substance use treatment to sexual minority women. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 30(4), 393–408.
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