People who identify as LGBT face immense pressure from an early age to be something they are not. Many people in the LGBT community will tell you that they have experienced discrimination, ignorance, bullying, violence, or trauma as a result of their sexual orientation. These challenges can often lead to substance use disorder and mental health issues. Here we will discuss some issues faced by LGBT people regarding addiction, and some resources and steps to take for LGBT sensitive recovery and detox options.
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Sadly these issues affect the LGBT community at disproportionate rates compared to their non-LGBT peers. Isolation. Despair. Loneliness. Depression. Rejection. Fear. These feelings and emotions are unfortunately quite common in the LGBT community. LGBT people aged 12-25 are especially vulnerable. Despite improvements in removing the stigma associated with being LGBT, these problems persist.
According to SAMHSA’s 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, LGBT people are:
When compared to their heterosexual peers.
Additionally, LGBT individuals are “more likely to have suicidal ideation and participate in frequent heavy episodic drinking” than their non-LGBT peers.
It’s important to remember that recovery is possible! Drug withdrawal can be painful, uncomfortable, dangerous, and deadly. For many, the pain of detoxing is more frightening than the pain of addiction.
So how can you tell when someone is going through withdrawal? While it’s not always easy to tell, there are some signs:
Co-occurring mental illness and underlying medical conditions can complicate the detoxification process. Medical detox centers can help manage withdrawal symptoms safely. Mental and physical symptoms will be treated with care. Overall, detox symptoms will vary from person to person, and from drug to drug. The intensity and severity of the symptoms are often based on the history of drug use.
Because members of the LGBT community are at a higher risk for mental illness and mood disorders, it’s important to pay close attention to someone’s behavior and take action when it appears drug withdrawal is occurring. Seeking the help of a detox center can help reduce the overall impact – physically and emotionally of withdrawal.
Here are some common withdrawal symptoms:
Medical staff at drug detox centers will provide prescriptions and medical treatment for these symptoms. Proper medical care during withdrawal can dramatically improve the chances of successful recovery.
There is good news; there are many detox centers that strive to meet the needs of the LGBT community. It’s important to know that not all treatment centers will provide the same programs and amenities. This guide will help you find the right treatment center for you.
LGBT Specific Programs: Look for treatment facilities that offer programs that are specifically tailored to LGBT needs. For example, some programs may offer treatment tracks that are specific to gender identity AND sexual orientation (programs specifically for gay men). Other specialty programs are tailored to transexuals, women only, or LGBT young adults. Being open about your needs at this point can make a difference in the type of care you receive.
Programs that Focus on Trauma: Sadly, many in the LGBT community will experience trauma in their lives. Sometimes this trauma is a direct result of the sexual orientation. There are treatment centers that are uniquely qualified to address this specific need.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment: LGBT people are more likely to have a co-occurring mental illness than their non-LGBT peers. Dual diagnosis treatment can address substance abuse and mental illness together.
Family Programs: Family programs can be extremely beneficial for LGBT people in treatment. The stigma associated with being LGBT can cause rifts in the closest of families. Addiction complicates relationships to an even greater degree. Family programs will provide an opportunity to address the complex issues LGBT people face on a daily basis.
Finding the right drug detox facility for you will be an important part of your recovery. There are different types of medical detox facilities that can be a part of your journey.
Inpatient Detox: Inpatient detox facilities, also known as residential facilities, offer what is often referred to as “community care”, where all aspects of a patient’s stay are focused on recovery. Patients in these facilities will reside at the facility for anywhere between 7-14 days. Inpatient detox is beneficial when a break from the “outside” world is needed. Medical, mental health, and therapy needs will be addressed during the stay.
Outpatient Detox: Sometimes referred to as “Intensive Outpatient Treatment” or “IOP”. These programs will not feature overnight stays. All detox treatments will be offered on a specific schedule, which could last from one to two weeks depending on the patient’s needs. This works well for students or professionals who aren’t able to take the time off necessary for inpatient detox.
Rapid Detox: These types of detox are fairly new, and their effectiveness is still an open topic of discussion in the medical community. These programs often use anesthesia to keep someone unconscious for several hours while they use medications to flush drugs from the body. This is the shortest, although the most expensive, type of detox program available.
You are not alone! No matter what the situation is, there are people and resources who are ready, willing, and able to lend a helping hand. Getting involved and learning about your community can bring you a sense of purpose and gratitude.
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