LGBTQ+ And Addiction: Providing Trauma-Informed Care
Many members of the LGBTQ+ community have been victims of traumatic experiences stemming from hate crimes, discrimination, and alienation from family. Providing these individuals with trauma-informed care is essential in helping them recover from substance abuse issues.
During Pride Month, people in the LGBTQ+ community celebrate their diversity, uniqueness, and right to be who they are.
It’s also a time to remember the struggles many members of this community have faced. Hate crimes and discrimination continue to be prevalent issues for LGBTQ+ individuals.
This can lead to a wide range of issues, including:
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- substance use disorder (SUD)
- binge drinking disorder
For those who identify as being part of the LGBTQ+ community and have a substance use disorder, regular treatment may not be the best solution.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is characterized by having intense dreams or flashbacks about a particularly stressful event or series of events.
PTSD can also send someone into a state of extreme panic or violence set off by a trigger. The trigger is usually related to the traumatic event.
Similar to those who experienced intense warfare, hate crimes can also cause PTSD. These traumatic experiences contribute heavily to addiction problems in the LGBTQ+ community.
If PTSD goes untreated, it can lead to toxic stress, anxiety, and substance abuse.
What Causes Trauma And Addiction In The LGBTQ+ Community?
Coming out as queer can often cause tension in families, religious groups, and other communities because societal norms dictate that certain ways of life must be upheld.
In extreme cases, being perceived as not being “normal” or going against the grain can even turn violent. In 2020, 20% of single-bias incidents involved sexual orientation.
Hate crimes can include physical, verbal, or sexual abuse. Other forms of discrimination and prejudice may never be reported; thus, these numbers may be higher in reality.
Discrimination can come in the form of:
- bullying in real life and online
- rejection from family members and close friends
- being fired from an occupation
- daily harassment
- domestic violence
- child abuse
For young students in the LGBTQ+ community, adverse childhood experiences such as bullying and judgment from other students may cause trauma.
In order to deal with the effects of trauma, LGBTQ+ people may abuse substances. Other symptoms of trauma can include self-hatred, isolation, and mental illness.
Treatment Options Available for the LGBTQ+ Community
People in the LGBTQ+ community experience many barriers to mental health treatment.
This is because some treatment centers can’t relate to or refuse to recognize certain sexual orientations and genders, or don’t know how to address trauma.
However, there is a specialized treatment that recognizes gender-affirming care is trauma-informed care.
This sort of treatment can greatly help those in the LGBTQ+ community find the right care they need.
The difference between regular treatment and trauma-informed care is that the latter will give trauma-specific treatment that focuses on how a patient’s past affects their present.
Knowing a patient’s whole story, including PTSD from single and ongoing trauma, can provide a treatment center with more information on how to treat someone.
There are several benefits of trauma-informed and affirmative mental health practices with LGBTQ+ patients.
- recognizing the impact of trauma
- knowing the concept of trauma
- realizing symptoms of PTSD in patients
- combining PTSD treatment with substance use disorder treatment to create a more informed recovery process
- avoiding re-traumatizing by recognizing a patient’s self-identified gender and orientation and providing emotional safety
- providing a non-judgemental, trustworthy and safe environment for LGBTQ+ patients
- connecting patients with shared traumatic experiences in order to break isolation, create bonds, and promote trustworthiness
- empowerment techniques such as treating patients as trauma survivors
- promoting specific activities to improve mental health, such as self-care
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Another option for LGBTQ+ individuals with substance use disorders is to enter a rehabilitation center that offers behavioral health services that integrate dual diagnosis treatment.
Dual diagnosis is used to describe patients who have co-occurring mental health disorders. For example, someone with a dual diagnosis can have an alcohol use disorder and depression.
Common mental health disorders that accompany a SUD are:
- anxiety disorder
- panic disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- eating disorders
- attention deficit disorder (ADD)
- bipolar disorder
- borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- antisocial personality disorder (APD)
Dual diagnosis treatment will combine a variety of treatment approaches to help a patient with co-occurring disorders.
Clinicians may employ:
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- integrated group therapy
- exposure therapy
- motivational enhancement therapy
- peer-support groups for those who share a common trauma or are in the LGBTQ+ community
- medication-based treatment
Treatment For Substance Abuse In Massachusetts
If you live in the Massachusetts area, there are several inpatient rehab centers near you that offer trauma-informed care.
Reach out today to talk to one of our behavioral health care providers and begin the healing process.
Recovering Champions Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.