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How To Create An Lgbtqia+ Safe Detox Environment

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a prevalent issue within the LGBTQIA+ community. Many people struggle in silence because the medical world does not offer them safety.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to state the exact statistics for SUD in the LGBTQIA+ community because the US government only recently added questions to identify this demographic. Even when national surveys did consider LGBTQIA+ folks, they missed the mark by including problematic questions. This created three big issues:

  • They only looked at the sexual attraction, not gender identity
  • They only accounted for genital attraction, not gender attraction
  • They only offered options for gay, straight, lesbian, and bisexual people

This shoddy execution meant most of the LGBTQIA+ population was left out of statistics. Even so, common estimates place LGBTQIA+ rates of SUD at two to three times the national average.

It stands to reason that drug detox programs should make sure to build LGBTQIA+ inclusive spaces and addiction recovery groups.

How To Create an LGBTQIA+ Safe Detox Environment

LGBTQIA+ people often have unique barriers to drug detox treatment.

Addiction Factors for LGBTQIA+ People

Most individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community experience intense emotional distress from the societal stigmas around identifying as a gender, romantic, and/or sexual minority.

LGBTQIA+ youths maintain high rates of homelessness due to being kicked out of their families and homes. Even when they remain in their house, they may be shamed and degraded by family members who do not accept them. Children from religious backgrounds might be pushed through the damaging practice of conversion therapy. This creates lifelong trauma. 

Due to healthcare biases, doctors could deny life-saving care to transgender people. On top of basic healthcare discrimination, trans people face many barriers when medically and socially transitioning. Plus, trans people, especially trans women of color, are attacked and killed at exorbitantly higher rates than other demographic groups. Many people in the community exist in a constant state of fear.

People all across the LGBTQIA+ community face barriers to housing and jobs. While it may not be legal to outwardly discriminate on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity, many states function on “at-will” policies. This makes it easy to still exclude individuals in protected classes solely based on those identity markers. All a person has to do is not provide an explicitly stated reason for application denial or firing.

The stigma, disadvantages, and discrimination create a community with a predisposition toward substance abuse. With all the problems, it is easy to fall into self-medicating to cope. Additionally, LGBTQIA+ individuals experience many stressors that trigger genetic predispositions toward SUDs under the diathesis-stress model of mental illness. 

What Can You Do To Provide An LGBTQIA+ Detox Environment?

With a better understanding of factors that lead to substance abuse in the LGBTQIA+ community, those who operate detox centers or addiction centers can be better equipped to create a safe environment for this demographic.

Modify Hiring Practices

Inclusivity starts from the ground up. Does the current hiring system prioritize diversity in the workplace? If the answer is no, those building the treatment team should consider changing hiring practices. People in the LGBTQIA+ community will feel more secure in a facility that employs queer people. They will feel more willing to show vulnerability if they feel represented in the center.

Additionally, there should be LGBTQIA+ specialized doctors, nurses, and counselors on staff. It may not be feasible to train all staff, but experts in LGBTQIA+ healthcare can provide for members of the community who come through a facility.

Alumni Involvement

Many people in the LGBTQIA+ community do not have a sturdy family support system and may enter detox alone. Support systems help people with SUD thrive in recovery. For LGBTQIA+ individuals to feel like they can make it through treatment, the system must offer social support from within. 

Encourage alumni engagement by setting up alumni events like meet-and-greets, alumni panels, or a penpal system. This will show current clients that success is possible and give them someone to look up to.

Pronouns and Names

LGBTQIA+ people will not feel comfortable in a facility if their identity is not respected. If a facility does not already request pronouns and preferred names on intake forms, it should immediately put this change in motion. The electronic system should pull up clients by their preferred name so they will not have to repeatedly deadname themselves. A person's trans status and deadname should never be disclosed to anyone other than medical professionals. This is private information and dangerous in the wrong hands. Lastly, using only a patient's self-identified name, gender, and pronouns cannot be optional when creating an LGBTQIA+ safe detox environment. 

Payment Assistance Programs

To include LGBTQIA+ people in a detox center, consider their systemic disadvantages. Because of hiring discrimination, people in the LGBTQIA+ community may not have health insurance or access to many financial resources. Detox centers should offer payment assistance programs for people who need them. This can come in the form of no-interest, low-cost payment plans, or grants to decrease the costs of a detox stay. Treatment is expensive, and this should not become a barrier for LGBTQIA+ people who are seeking sobriety. Will Help You Find An LGBTQIA+ Safe Detox Space

To create an LGBTQIA+ safe detox space, you need to take into account the challenges of the community. People of gender, romantic, and sexual minorities face discrimination and societal stigma, creating internal and external shame. To heal, they need an inclusive environment with strong social support. was created to help everyone, regardless of gender or identification, find an effective, professional detox center near them for their needs and budget. With thousands of listings, finding a detox center for you has never been easier.

Avoid the risks of substance abuse: search today!

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