One of the most important elements of successful rehab is finding a safe and comfortable place for your treatment. This can be a major challenge for LGBTX folks, who all too often face everything from unconscious prejudice to outright hostility in their daily lives. While rehab facilities generally strive to be judgment-free spaces, programs that are not specifically designed for LGBTX patients frequently fall into the trap of being as heteronormative and cisgender-normative as society in general tends to be.
Finding a comfortable and supportive space is important for all patients in rehab, but it may be particularly critical for LGBTX patients. Not only are the rates of alcohol and drug abuse higher among these populations but research suggests that the psychological toll that results from instances of discrimination and feelings of isolation significantly contribute to these higher rates of substance use disorders, as well as higher rates of mental illness.
Encountering the same kinds of discrimination or lack of understanding in rehab can make it extremely difficult to enter a stable process of recovery. When drugs or alcohol have become a means of dealing with the pain of judgment, insensitivity and hostility, facing these challenges in rehab not only destroys the trust necessary for successful treatment, but can also reinforce the very underlying issues that are fueling an addiction.
Transgender patients in particular remain very likely to encounter discrimination during rehab, where they are often misgendered and frequently segregated according to their birth-assigned gender rather than their actual gender. The failure of many facilities to adequately accommodate transgender patients is particularly disturbing when you consider that the rate of substance abuse in the transgender community is more than three times that of the general population: 30 percent compared to 9 percent.
LGBTX-Oriented Treatment in a Discrimination-Free Environment
Fear of encountering discrimination from their treatment providers or fellow patients discourages some LGBTX individuals from seeking help in the first place. The prospect of an LGBTX-oriented rehab program may help to give members of this group the confidence to make the call and walk in the door.
Facilities that are not exclusive to members of the LGBTX community may work hard to ensure that everyone is welcomed, accommodated and supported as much as possible. Nevertheless, they are at a disadvantage when it comes to inspiring the same level of comfort and confidence that an LGBTX-specific program can offer. Patients may continue to have heightened concerns about encountering discrimination during the treatment process and may also feel isolated from and different than their fellow patients.
LGBTX-specific treatment programs address problems that are unique to this community. Such programs focus on helping you to achieve greater acceptance of your own sexual orientation and gender identity, and to develop strategies other than drugs or alcohol to help you cope with the stressors you may encounter because of your orientation or gender.
Treatment providers in LGBTX-oriented programs are well-versed in the challenges that members of this community frequently face and in the strategies that can help them to improve their levels of self-acceptance. This helps to provide patients with the necessary tools to remain clean and sober once they leave rehab and once again encounter the kind of discrimination and misunderstanding that contributed to their addictions.
A Uniquely Supportive Rehab Environment
Not all LGBTX people who enter rehab will choose an LGBTX-only community. Some may place higher value on the services and facilities that other programs make available, while others may feel more comfortable in women-only or men-only programs. However, for many individuals in this community who are suffering from addiction, LGBTX-only programs offer a feeling of safety and support that they cannot find anywhere else.
These recovery programs do more than just pay lip-service to the challenges that you face as a non-heterosexual and/or non-cisgender person in our world today. Not only will you have access to treatment providers who refrain from careless assumptions and micro-aggressions regarding your gender identity and sexual orientation, but you will find that others in recovery with you have shared many of your experiences and challenges. For people who too often feel isolated and different, realizing that you are not alone during this extremely difficult and demanding time can be absolutely priceless.