Fears about not being accepted for who you are can take a heavy toll on your health and well-being. Combine the weight of rejection and social stigma with the increased risk of bullying, harassment, discrimination and physical abuse and you begin to understand why people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex or asexual (LGBTQIA+) are at an increased risk of substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders than people who identify as heterosexual.
Although the data are slim and far more research is needed, scientists report significantly higher overall rates of substance use and substance use disorders among people who identify as lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports the prevalence of substance use disorders in the LGBT community at 20-30% compared with 9% among the population as a whole. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that adults who define themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual were more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to have used an illicit drug in the past year.
SAMHSA also reports that 1.9 million Americans who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual experience co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. For the vast majority, these complex conditions go untreated. According to SAMHSA, 86.8% of LGBTQ people with co-occurring disorders (addiction in combination with depression, anxiety, trauma disorders or another mental health condition) do not receive substance abuse treatment.
Hazelden Betty Ford treatment centers provide special-focus drug addiction programming to address needs specific to LGBT individuals in promoting healthy, lasting recovery, including inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab options. Our addiction treatment experts and mental health services therapists recognize that many in the LGBTQ community have experienced negative interactions with rehab centers or other health care providers and may fear judgment, discrimination or other repercussions. At Hazelden Betty Ford, you will find a safe, affirming, compassionate and understanding counseling staff and an inclusive peer recovery support community. Gender-responsive treatment involves a recognition of how you express your gender and how that relates to providing care that helps you heal and recover.
In addition to core addiction treatment components, our drug rehab programming provides you with:
An individualized substance abuse and mental health treatment plan that includes special LGBT-focused, small-group sessions
A safe, supportive and healing environment for LGBTQIA+ people
Person-centered, culturally competent care provided by dually licensed (addiction and mental health) clinicians
Treatment curriculum and process support groups that address LGBT community topics and issues including gender and sexual identity development, societal stigma and discrimination, religious trauma, healthy relationships, sexual health, chemsex and related concerns for patients who identify as gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, queer, intersex or asexual
Hazelden Betty Ford also offers LGBTQ-integrative programming for co-occurring mental health and trauma issues, which addresses internalized homophobia and shame by creating an environment that supports healing in a predominantly heterosexual milieu. In this way, our LGBTQ patients experience acceptance and validation through care that embraces the wholeness of who you are and treatment that addresses your individual situation, struggles and needs.
Are you looking for more information about addiction issues among LGBTQ individuals, substance abuse treatment approaches, rehab programs and more? Here are three helpful resources:
Hazelden Betty Ford LGBTQIA+ treatment programs and services are offered at our St. Paul, Minnesota drug rehab, our Rancho Mirage, California inpatient rehab, San Diego outpatient rehab and our New York drug rehab center.