With Pride Month in full swing, Spectrum Health Systems honors the LGBTQ+ community and acknowledges the difficulties encountered by its members. The disadvantages, discrimination, and other challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community create an increased risk of behavioral health issues such as substance use disorder, self-harm, depression, and anxiety.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) found that 41.3% of sexual minority adults reported using marijuana in the past year, compared to 18.7% of the overall population. Sexual minority adults also reported opioid misuse and alcohol use disorder at roughly double the rate of the overall population.
Democratizing the Recovery Space
In their research, the NIH also found that despite the elevated rate of substance misuse among sexual minority adults, only 7.4% of addiction treatment programs offer specialized treatment services for LGBTQ+ clients. The lack of individualized services for these populations creates a stark illustration of the need for inclusivity in the treatment space.
Struggling with addiction as an LGBTQ+ individual can bring increased stigma, which persists despite widespread cultural change. Members of the LGBTQ+ community in search of substance use treatment face a range of added hurdles and challenges to finding the care they need. It’s important that the recovery community continues to make addiction treatment an individualized and inclusive experience.
Spectrum’s Commitment to Inclusivity
To ensure Spectrum’s programing is supportive of a wide range of sexual orientations and gender identities, the Spectrum Gender Responsiveness Committee was formed in 2017. This group assesses Spectrum’s services across all divisions to maintain an organizational focus on creating LGBTQ+ affirming environments for employees and clients alike.
Spectrum is also proud to work with organizations like Safe Homes, which provide resources for at-risk LGBTQ+ youth and their allies, including meals, hygiene products, and one-on-one counseling. Ensuring that LGBTQ+ individuals have the resources they need to safely navigate recovery is crucial to Spectrum’s mission as an organization.
Attending Pride Events in Substance Use Recovery
With parades, concerts, festivals, and many other events occurring, Pride Month can be an ideal time to get out and celebrate. However, the atmosphere of some Pride events may also present recovery challenges. When attending Pride events in recovery, it can be helpful to know the nature of the event beforehand to avoid exposure to any unwanted triggers.
Although some people in recovery are fine with attending events where others are drinking or possibly using substances, some people—especially those in early recovery—may prefer to attend a sober Pride event instead. Going to events with a recovery friend and having an exit plan ready in case an event is too overwhelming are also important options to consider when attending Pride events in recovery.
For members of the LGBTQ+ community who are in recovery from addiction, Pride Month is a time to celebrate not only identity, but personal milestones as well. Having the courage and love to express oneself and overcoming challenges to prioritize one’s recovery are all things to be exceptionally proud of.
LGBTQ+ individuals and allies can find support and local resources though Safe Homes (safehomesma.org).
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction or substance use disorder, call Spectrum Health Systems today at 1-877-MyRehab.