As millions celebrate Pride Month this June, it’s an ideal time to consider the effects of substance abuse on the LGBTQ community. While oppression continues to close doors for people identifying as LGBTQ worldwide, the question is: how can recovery centers provide greater support for people in recovery who just happen to be LGBTQ or have a family or friend who identifies as such? The answers reside in changing our culture to be more accepting of people regardless of whom they love.
Of all people, the President of the United States tweeted in support of such acceptance, asking for a unified approach: “As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made to our great Nation, let us also stand in solidarity with the many LGBT people who live in dozens of countries worldwide that punish, imprison, or even execute individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. My Administration has launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality and invite all nations to join us in this effort!”
If Trump is capable of publicly supporting (or at least posting lip service toward) Pride Month, surely the recovery community is ready to offer more attentive services to friends and family of LGBT seeking addiction rehabilitation. One key component that recovery services are considering is support for LGBTQ couples in recovery. A recent article addresses this issue due to the slow-changing culture that has tended to ignore and under-acknowledge spouses when it comes to LGBT addiction and recovery.
The article sets the scene with a clear thesis: “Sexual minorities may have a higher risk of substance abuse behaviors in comparison to heterosexuals. This can, at least in part, be contributed to sexual minorities’ battles pertaining to discrimination, recognition, legal rights, and life in a world in which the majority is non-LGBTQ.” Again, even though Trump trumpets the US as leading the world in regard to LGBTQ, the US has yet to allow for legal rights that extend to partners, with has especially impacted couples when only one needs hospitalization.
Even if a particular recovery center provides attentive services during an individual’s stay in treatment, the article hopes “to address the needs of sexual minorities in same-sex couples that are rebuilding their relationship post-addiction.” To do this, recovery culture, rehab communities and mental health professionals will need to take a look at their services and consider this: are we really meeting the needs of humans in the LGBTQ community? Yes, the President tweets words indicating support: but the time for action is here: acknowledging the whole person should extend to everyone, regardless of whom they love. Enjoy Pride Month!
Thompson, S. (2019). The Effects of Substance Abuse on the LGBTQ Partner of the Substance Abuser: A Support Group for Couples in Recovery (Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Northridge).