Addiction Resources For LGBTQ

LGBTQ is a bit of an umbrella term that refers to the gay, non-binary, and non-heterosexual community at large. The acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.

The LGB (to use a shortened version of the acronym) is just as likely, if not more likely, to struggle with drug and alcohol addiction as the binary and straight community.

In this page, we’re going to discuss the difficulties that LGB individuals face in regards to addiction. We will also discuss solutions and steps that they can take on the road to recovery.

What Does LGBTQIAPK Mean?

A longer version, LGBTQIAPK, stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual, and kink. It seems that every year new letters are being added to this broad umbrella term.

As of February 2018, the ‘official’ acronym was LGBTQQICAPF2K+, which is a bit of a mouthful. According to The Gay UK magazine, this stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, curious, asexual, agender, ally, pansexual, polysexual, friends and family, 2-spirit, and kink.

Whatever the case, the basic premise is that acronyms beginning with LGB tend to describe a group or individual who does not identify as a typical heterosexual.

LGBTQ Substance Abuse & Addiction Statistics

Sadly, the rates of addiction in LGBTQ communities are generally much higher than they are in other groups and communities. There are many factors that could contribute to this, including:

  • Discrimination
  • Societal pressure
  • Difficulty expressing emotions or having an outlet to express oneself
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Familial pressure

According to the Addiction Center, as many as 30% of all people identified with the LGBTQ community are known to abuse drugs or alcohol. This statistic is shockingly high compared to the population as a whole, out of which only 9% of people tend to abuse substances.

What Kind of Addiction Treatment Is Needed for LGBTQ?

The basics of treatment are going to be the same as they would for non-LGBTQ patients.

After contacting a rehabilitation center, LGBTQ people will undergo an intake and assessment session to identify their needs. During this phase, they will develop a treatment plan that caters to their specific needs.

The main difference here is whether or not the facility will provide treatment, counseling, or an environment that is accommodating to LGBTQ.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has done some research in regards to the needs of LGBTQ individuals struggling with substance abuse. They revealed that specialized treatment programs that cater specifically towards LGBTQ members tend to have much higher success rates than standard programs.

There are a number of specific issues that need to be addressed when LGBTQ are seeking addiction treatment.

One of the most important parts of rehab is identifying and addressing the underlying mental health issues that give rise to addiction in the first place. These issues can range from anxiety to childhood trauma. Uprooting these issues is often the key to overcoming an addiction.
LGBTQ often struggle with these same issues. However, there is often an added layer of depth that they have to struggle through.

Problems specific to LGBTQ may include:

  • Being faced with homophobia or transphobia at home, in the workplace, at school, or even on the streets.
  • Family problems resulting from their sexual orientation or preference.
  • Violence, discrimination, or hateful speech directed at them as a result of their sexual orientation.
  • Social isolation and difficulty forming bonds with people.
  • Internalized homophobia or self-hatred, lack of self-image or self-confidence.
  • Rejection from social groups, family members or employers.

Oftentimes, these issues are the very same issues that lead members of the LGBTQ community to use drugs in the first place.

Many of these issues are unique to the LGBTQ community, and as such, it can be incredibly helpful for them to talk with a counselor or coach who understands these issues. Trying to squeeze through rehab without the aid of a counselor that they can relate to could be extremely difficult for an LGBTQ member.

Sober Living and Pride

There are a number of groups and organizations that are dedicated to advocating sober living and LGBTQ pride. While sober living and Pride are a relatively new combination, people are nonetheless making a point of recognizing LGBTQ members in recovery.

Canada is one of the leading members of the Sober Pride movement, thanks to their Last Door program. Three separate components make up their movement which is known as Clean, Sober, and Proud.

  • The Untoxicated Street Festival, a delightfully flamboyant parade and street party dedicated to those in recovery and sobriety.
  • Clean Sober and Proud Outreach booths for LGBTQ members in recovery to find support.
  • Recovery Pride Floats, for LGBTQ members to flaunt their newfound sobriety and share it with the public.

While this is just one example of the emerging Sober Pride movement, it’s certainly an inspiration. Should more cities follow in suit of Vancouver, the Sober Pride movement will take storm throughout the world.

However, for this to happen, it’s important for treatment centers to offer services catered to LGBTQ members. It’s also important that LGBTQ members let these facilities know what they need to feel heard and understood.

As of 2019, there were only two sober houses for LGBTQ people in the entire United States. However, more and more rehab centers and treatment facilities are offering services for LGBTQ. As the LGBTQ movement continues to thrive and expand, more and more LGBTQ coaches and therapists are becoming established as mental health professionals.

Treatment Options for LGBTQ

Seeking treatment as an LGBTQ can be as simple as looking up a rehab facility in your local area. Most facilities that offer services to LGBTQ members are clear about this in their mission statement.

Once you have found a reliable treatment center, then you can apply for rehab. Inpatient and outpatient rehab are your two options.

  • Inpatient rehab is a more intensive form of rehab during which you’re confined to the facility for the duration of the treatment. It’s important for LGBTQ members to have support during this time, and it can be equally important for them to share a space with other members of the LGBTQ community.
  • Outpatient rehab is less intensive than inpatient rehab. As long as patients attend their scheduled meetings and appointments, they’re able to come and go freely from the treatment center. This is easier for a number of reasons, especially for LGBTQ members.

    This allows LGBTQ members a better opportunity to engage with fellow community members during their treatment. Attending an inpatient treatment program without any other LGBTQ members can make one feel isolated or distant.

    Unfortunately, outpatient rehab also carries with it a number of risks. Since you’re able to come and go from the facility, there’s nobody to stop you from relapsing. For this reason, outpatient rehab is generally recommended only for those with mild-to-moderate addictions.


As time goes on, more and more treatment facilities are catering to the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ people face a unique set of challenges and difficulties that need to be addressed in order for them to successfully manage their addictions.

If you or a loved one are a member of the community and are struggling with drug addiction, don’t hesitate to seek rehab. Reach out to a treatment facility that caters to LGBTQ members and see what they can do for you.

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