Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

Addiction is a serious issue in the LGBTQ community. So many of our loved ones, friends, and family have had to struggle with this medical condition without the support that they need.

Despite that, there are programs out there today that can help LGBTQ individuals with addiction start their recovery.

Here's a basic guide to getting sober in the LGBTQ community.

people sitting on bar chairs while drinking and talking Photo by Victor Clime on Unsplash

Challenges to Getting Sober in the LGBTQ Community

There are plenty of barriers to finding addiction treatment in our society, but the LGBTQ community faces some of the most serious societal barriers. We know this from personal experience, but international research also backs it up.

The Social Barriers to Treatment are Real

The LGBTQ community faces the same systemic barriers as everyone else with added unique challenges. Economic concerns, social barriers, and even the fight against hate crimes come into play when we consider addiction treatment.

Intersectional issues, such as race, class, and gender, also are obstacles to finding addiction treatment.

The good news is that groups are working to help LGBTQ individuals get treatment for substance use disorder.

The Importance of Treatment

Getting treatment for substance use disorder can help with everything from simply improving their quality of life to lowering the chance of life-threatening complications.

Research continues to demonstrate that rates of substance use disorder are higher for LGBTQ individuals than for members of the general population.

One study found that 86.4% of LGBTQ individuals with addiction do not have access to the addiction treatment they need. This is a substantial gap.

One Good Sign

There are some good signs on the horizon for the LGBTQ community. There is research that suggests that LGBTQ individuals are more likely to seek treatment for substance use disorder than their cisgender or heterosexual counterparts.

This is often despite the serious social barriers we've been talking about. Overcoming institutionalized homophobia and transphobia is no small task, but there are members of our LGBTQ community who are helping each other find the treatment they need.

What to Do When it’s Time to Get Sober

If you're reading this blog, then you've already taken the first steps towards recovery and sobriety. Searching for information on how to find treatment means you’ve already begun your journey towards recovery.

Here's some information that can help you understand the basics of getting sober.

Learn the Basic Types of Substance Abuse Disorder Treatment

There are many types of treatment programs for addiction. Successful addiction rehab often combines more than one, so it's important to understand the basic differences of the most popular types of treatment when you start looking for a plan.

All of these plans are designed to help you achieve your goals. Different plans cater to different needs and can help you balance recovery with the other responsibilities in your life.

There are many different treatment methods—behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, 12-step facilitation—but two basic programs:

  • Inpatient treatment: People stay in a residential facility throughout treatment, including eating and sleeping. This lets you focus on your recovery alongside a group of peers who are also working through their substance use disorder.
  • Outpatient treatment: People visit the treatment center several times a week or daily, then go home. People in outpatient treatment usually have less severe addictions or already made progress toward their recovery. Outpatient programs allow individuals to maintain work, school, and social responsibilities while working on their recovery.

Addiction is a treatable, medical, condition that can be successfully managed with the right treatment program.

Getting Sober in a Community

silhouette of person near window glass with rainbow flags in background silhouette of person near window glass Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash

A big part of sobriety is about finding or creating a community where you can safely and successfully practice sobriety. People, places, and situations associated with past substance use can trigger a relapse. Peer support is an important part of the recovery process.

This can be challenging in the LGBTQ community. Finding a group of individuals to understand and accept your identity while also supporting your recovery process can be difficult.

What to Look for in a Drug Rehab Center

There are a few things you should look for in an addiction treatment program.

First, find a program that is certified and accredited by independent organizations. It should also have experienced and certified treatment professionals.

It's important to find a program that offers treatment plans that can help you reach your goals. You also want to find a treatment center that openly stands up for supporting the recovery of individuals in the LGBTQ community.

These are the factors that come together to make the best alcohol rehab center.

Finding LGBTQ Addiction Treatment in Arizona

There are options for addiction treatment throughout Arizona. You can find LGBTQ addiction support groups in Arizona in major cities like Tucson and Phoenix. There are also options for finding a drug rehab center in Arizona that supports the LGBTQ community in more northern communities in the state like Flagstaff.

Reaching out to an alcohol and drug rehab center is your first step in getting the care that you need.

Sources

  1. Ontario.cmha.ca - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Queer identified People and Mental Health
  2. Cdc.gov - Substance Use (Gay and Bisexual Men's Health)
  3. samhsa.gov - 2019 National Survey On Drug Use And Health: Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual (LGB) Adults
  4. Drugabuse.gov - Substance Use and SUDs in LGBTQ Populations
  5. Drugabuse.gov - Types of Treatment Programs: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)
  6. Drugabuse.gov - Treatment and Recovery (Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction)
  7. Samhsa.gov - Recovery and Recovery Support
  8. Sunshinebehavioralhealth.com - Alcohol Rehab Huntington Beach, CA
  9. Gayandsober.org - Meeting Finder Arizona
Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

Michael Feinstein


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Michael Feinstein will commemorate Judy Garland’s life on March 20 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.


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I think it’s fair to say we all want that #fitlife, especially with Spring around the corner — as well as Gaypril on the way. Whether it’s pool season yet or not, everyone would choose to look fit over not looking fit, if they could have it with a snap of their fingers. OK, the vast majority of us would.

If you’ve met me, or have been reading my articles, you know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe fitness; it’s my heart and soul. That being said, I’m here to tell you that the concept of “fitness” is oftentimes tragically misunderstood.

Before you get too aggressive with your goal for pool season, let’s dive a bit deeper into what fitness means on the inside versus what it looks like on the outside, and common misconceptions around this concept.

1. Beware of the cultural pitfalls and misleading information around fitness.

Most of the bodies you see in the media are probably not real, they just look very convincing. As a trainer who also moonlights as a photographer and Photoshop wizard, I’m telling you that it is incredibly easy to alter pictures in materially misleading ways. Once you know the tricks of the trade, the imposters are easily spotted. But that’s not what this is about.

The point is: to the untrained eye, it can be devastatingly defeating to see such impossible standards. It seems as though the cultural pressure to look a certain way, to look perfect, has spread all the way from runway models to fitness novices with the help of smartphone apps.

The truth is that we fitness models look that cut, and that lean for only a couple days at a time. That’s it! In many cases, months or even close to a year of training, dieting and programming all go into looking like that for ONE day. Let that sink in for a second. Day to day, I am less cut, less tan and much flatter muscularly than what you see in some of my pictures. That’s just the nature of the beast. So, when you have a bad day on the scale, in the mirror or in any other scenario, remember that we’re all human and that the most legitimate photos you’re comparing yourself against were from someone’s very best day. That should help to keep things in perspective.

2. Most people want the results, without actually doing the work.

Fitness is not six pack abs, it’s not superficial, it is not temporary and it’s not an isolated phase in your life. Further, fitness is not something you do for someone else, do to spite someone else or even to impress someone else.

Fitness is confidence, toughness, dedication, coordination, power, balance, speed, strength (both literally and figuratively) and persistence in the face of all obstacles. This includes control over your attitude, your mood, your sleep, your schedule, your diet and other aspects of your life. This means getting that workout in when you least feel like it.

It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a grind that has good and bad days. You must show up and keep working on the days you’re tired, stressed, rushed, defeated, doubtful, afraid and so on. The days you actually have to overcome something instead of just checking your workout off your to-do list are the days you have the greatest opportunity to really make progress, push your body and see the most improvement.

3. Fitness is really an internal mindset. The external physique is the fringe benefit.

I’ve said this time and time again, and it might sound strange coming from such an aesthetic-focused trainer, but you are not your body. Your body is a tool, it’s a means to an end, to express your internal mindset, belief system, discipline and dedication to your workout program. Your physique will come and go. Your strength will come and go. Your abilities will wax and wane depending on what you’re training for at the time.

The outside will, and should, be always changing, but the inside is what we’re really after here. Good trainers want to train you to believe in yourself when sh*t gets hard. We want to train you to be resilient in the face of injury, obstacles and other setbacks. We want you to set ambitious goals and shoot for the moon because you can get there with smart programming and relentless will (do yourself a favor and ditch the crash diets and the photo editing software).

So, as you make your spring preparations for swimsuit season, try focusing on developing a sterling, unshakeable internal character and the muscles will come along the way, this I promise you.

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