Thankfully, we are now living in a time and culture where LGBTQIA rights and privileges are being a topic of dialogue within the addiction treatment community. The studies related to individuals who identify in the LGBTQIA spectrum actually date back to 30 years ago, however, there has been a criticism of the research design implemented to obtain necessary information. With the acknowledgment, let’s discuss what we actually do know so that we may more deeply understand the plight of these individuals. Within sexual minority groups, there is ample evidence to suggest that these groups suffer from Substance Use Disorder at a markedly higher rate than do heterosexual and cis-gender groups. Even more specifically, gay and bisexual men are reported to have a higher propensity to use methamphetamine than do heterosexual men. In more recent studies, it has been discovered that transgender individuals experience a higher rate of addiction than to cis-gender individuals. According to a 2014 study that took place in San Francisco, transgender individuals are 6 times more likely to seek treatment for methamphetamine addiction than were cis-gender individuals. It can be reasonably assumed that these marginalized groups have a stronger proclivity to engage in drug and alcohol abuse, than do their hetero and cis-gender counterparts, due to the fact that society has not come to a full acceptance of this identity and therefore these individuals continue to suffer from displacement, isolation, and the consequences of disenfranchisement. From a scientific standpoint, this notion seems to be supported as LGBTQIA individuals are more like to have suffered from higher incidences of a stressful childhood, school victimization, neighborhood hate crimes, and family conflict; all of these measures are correlated to a higher risk for substance abuse.
It important to understand the statistics and evidence portraying the grim reality of the myriad of barrier that is faced within the LGBTQIA community, however, the treatment industry needs to play catch-up with their understanding of the nature of these individual’s struggle in order to better serve them as clients. Let’s take a look at some recent progress that was made in this respect. Three major domains have been identified that ought to implemented in order to provide quality service to these populations and they are as follows: First, a separate facility or unit that welcomes sexual minorities. Second, a safe and supportive treatment milieu where the staff is trained to understand sexual minority differences, and lastly, specialized treatment modalities that offer choices with respect to different substances and addictions. Although this is a start, allies of this community have a long road ahead and a lot of work to do in order to keep fighting for equal opportunity for addiction treatment.