Having an addiction can be difficult and isolating for anyone, but for LGBTQ individuals it can be even more difficult. In addition to discrimination and harassment, LGBTQ people are more likely to suffer from mental health problems like depression and anxiety. As a result, overcoming addiction can be more challenging.
The following tips can help you support an LGBT loved one who may be struggling with addiction.
Educate yourself about addiction.
As a first step, you should educate yourself about addiction. Find out what addictions are, what the symptoms are, and what treatment options are available. By understanding what your loved one is going through, you will be able to offer them the best support possible.
Be supportive and non-judgmental.
Regardless of whether or not you approve of the substance abuse of your loved one, it is important to let them know that you care about them and support them. Be careful not to judge or humiliate them. Rather than judging them, focus on helping them get the support they need.
Additionally, make sure your loved one knows you care for and support them. Regardless of what happens, let them know you are there for them. For LGBTQ people who have experienced rejection from friends and family in the past, this can be especially important.
Encourage your loved one to seek treatment.
The treatment of addiction can include individual therapy, group therapy, and medication-assisted therapy. It's important to help your loved one explore their treatment options and choose a program that will work for them. Studies have shown that LGBTQ-specific programs are more effective in treating substance abuse in these individuals because they address unique issues that traditional programs often overlook.
To put it another way, LGBTQ individuals with substance abuse problems need addiction specialists that understand their social, psychological, and personal needs. As well as treating their addiction, an LGTBQ program should include unique features, such as:
A supportive environment for people experiencing discrimination, prejudice, coming out, family rejection, lack of social support, stigma, minority stress, abuse, and harassment.
Treatment of co-occurring mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
Addressing the mistrust among transgender people towards healthcare providers.
The management of any hormonal treatments during rehab.
The establishment of a separate facility or unit for sexual minorities.
A variety of treatment modalities are available for different addictions and substances.
An environment that is safe and supportive (including LGBTQ-affirming staff).
Be patient and understanding.
It can take a long time and a lot of effort to recover from addiction. It is inevitable that there will be setbacks along the way. Throughout recovery, support your loved one and show them your understanding and patience.
Stop being an enabler.
An enabler is someone who makes it easier for their friend or family member to keep their addiction going. Among the ways they might do this are:
Providing financial assistance
Transporting them to their destinations
Excusing their behavior
There are two types of enabling: outright and subtle. A person's addiction problem is outright enabled by giving them money to buy drugs. It is also enabling behavior when a person calls in sick to work when they are too hungover to go to work.
It is common for family members and friends to enable behaviours when they want to help, but are unaware of the severity of the situation. Addicts who are enabled by loved ones remain trapped in a cycle of dependency and are prevented from seeking help. In addition to putting themselves at risk, enablers may contribute unknowingly to the substance abuse disorder of others.
Take care of yourself.
It can be physically and emotionally draining to support someone with an addiction. You should take care of yourself on a physical and emotional level. Maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. Additionally, you should join a support group so that you can speak to people who understand your situation.
In the event that you have concerns that your LGBT loved one might be addicted, you should seek help. If you or your loved one are struggling with recovery, there are many resources available to help.
You may also find the following substance abuse resources helpful:
The National LGBT Health Education Center: https://www.lgbthealtheducation.org/
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline
The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
How can I talk to my loved one about their addiction?
Direct and honest communication is the best way to deal with someone's addiction. Tell them how much you care about their health and well-being, and how you'd like to help them receive the treatment they need. If they have any questions, be ready to answer them. As well as being patient and understanding, you should also be understanding that it may take some time for your loved one to seek help.
What can I do to support?
In order to be supportive, you can do the following:
Listen without judgment. Be there for your loved one and listen without judgment to what they have to say.
Offer practical help. For example, you could assist them with chores, run errands for them, or take care of their children.
Encourage them to seek professional help. It is not possible to solve addiction on one's own. A therapist or counselor who specializes in addiction treatment can be of great help to your loved one.
Be patient. The recovery process takes time. Keep your loved one in your thoughts and don't give up on them.
What are some of the challenges that LGBT people with addiction face?
Addiction may pose a number of challenges to LGBT individuals, including:
Treatment discrimination by healthcare providers.
It is difficult to find treatment providers who are culturally competent.
The stigma and shame associated with addiction.
The fear of coming out to their families and friends.
What are some tips for finding an LGBTQ-friendly treatment center?
To find a treatment center that is LGBTQ-friendly, consider these tips:
Check with your loved one if he or she knows of any LGBTQ-friendly treatment centers.
Find out if your area has treatment centers that are LGBTQ-friendly online.
Those seeking LGBTQ-friendly treatment can contact NAMI or SAMHSA, which provides a list of institutions.
A treatment center should be able to tell you how they work with LGBTQ clients if you call them.
Recovery is a unique journey for each person. The best way to support an LGBT family member who has an addiction isn't one size fits all. Regardless of how they need support, the most important thing is to be there for them.