In 2019, the National Survey On Drug Use And Health (NSDUH) published a survey that showed that 18.3 percent of the LGB population had a substance use disorder. That’s 2.6 million people in the United States aged 18 or older who are struggling with addiction. To provide adequate support to groups like these, it’s absolutely critical that providers prioritize inclusivity in addiction treatment.
In order to get the best treatment possible, LGBTQ people with substance use disorders should look for an inclusive, LGBTQ-affirmative treatment program.
Why Inclusivity Matters
While progress is being made on a legislative level, in many places there is still an unwarranted stigma associated with being LGBTQ. And, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), “[h]alf of all Americans live in states that lack statutory protections for LGBTQ citizens.”
This environment creates a number of stressors for people who identify as LGBTQ. These stressors are what lead many of these people to become addicted, and they can make it more difficult to seek treatment and make a successful recovery.
According to a paper published by the Center for American Progress, “The stress that comes from daily battles with discrimination and stigma is a principle driver of … higher rates of substance use, as gay and transgender people turn to tobacco, alcohol, and other substances as a way to cope with these challenges.” It’s easy to see the obstacles that stand in the way of recovery if an LGBTQ person faces the same discrimination during treatment.
More Benefits to Inclusive Drug Rehab
While that’s the most important reason to prioritize inclusivity, it’s not the only one. According to Glassdoor, most employees want more diversity in their staff. Therefore, it stands to reason that this desire extends to the company’s clientele as well.
In addition to improving results for clients, staff members of inclusive drug rehabs are happier, more productive, and better equipped to do their jobs. By prioritizing inclusion for staff as well as clients, treatment providers are able to offer clients access to staff and employees with a range of different backgrounds, perspectives, and knowledge with which to better perform their jobs and improve treatment outcomes.
How to Find an LGBTQ-Affirmative Environment for Treatment
In order to facilitate the recovery of LGBTQ clients, providers should focus on creating a safe space for people of all sexual orientations and identifications. On the flip side, those looking for drug rehab, whether for themselves or a loved one, should prioritize facilities that prioritize inclusion. This also means making sure that a potential treatment provider truly understands what it means to be inclusive, which is not the same as diversity. Because a provider may serve clients from many different groups, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they offer a safe space where each demographic being served actually feels comfortable being themselves. As a result, the patients' ability to successfully complete the program is compromised.
Fortunately, there are some specific questions you can ask in order to gauge whether a treatment center's clinical practices line up with its marketing efforts.
As Philip T. McCabe, president of the Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Addiction Professionals and Their Allies (NALGAP) recently said, a provider’s claim to be LGBTQ-friendly “does not provide me insight into what type of clinical services are being offered. What accommodations or considerations are offered for someone who is transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming? Going beyond lodging and physical needs, what clinical services are provided to address the needs of LGBTQ clients?”
With that in mind, here are a couple of questions you can ask as you search for an inclusive substance abuse treatment center:
- Do you have clinical services specific to the needs of LGBTQ clients?
- Do you offer accommodations that are specifically geared toward making LGBTQ clients more comfortable?
The National LGBT Health Education Center offers further guidance on what to look for, providing additional questions such as:
- Do your health education and marketing materials show images of same-sex couples or families?
- Does the provider display LGBT-specific signs, stickers, and brochures?
- Do the provider's community bulletin boards include postings and offerings for LGBT people?
- Do the provider's waiting areas offer reading materials that are of particular interest/relevance to LGBT people?
- Does the provider offer restrooms that conform to all genders, including nonbinary??
Recovery Made Harder
LGBTQ individuals face discrimination on a daily basis. And overcoming a substance use disorder is hard enough as it is. When a treatment facility doesn’t show any signs of valuing individuals who are ethnic, sexual, religious, or other types of minorities, individuals in those communities face even more of an uphill battle as they attempt to achieve stable sobriety.
But there are providers intent on delivering high-level, high-quality care to everyone they serve, regardless of race, gender identity, belief, or sexual orientation. As a result, it's crucial that those seeking treatment are able to find recovery centers that are best equipped to help them on the road to recovery.
West Valley Detox is an Inclusive Drug Rehab
West Valley Detox is a Tarzana-based substance abuse treatment facility where inclusion and acceptance are a top priority. From our campus in Los Angeles County, we continue to cultivate a family-like atmosphere for all clients to feel safe as they heal and focus on wellness. With a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, our team of clinicians works with clients to develop an informative and effective treatment plan.
If you or a loved one is in need of a safe space for drug rehab, West Valley Detox is here to help. Call us today to find out what we can do for you or your loved one.