Addictions are a difficult issue to deal with in the personal level. The challenge becomes even greater when it comes to certain special populations, for example members of the LGBT community. This group is vulnerable to addictions, and there are certain considerations to be made in their treatment.
The LGBT group is more prone to addictions than heterosexuals, due to some characteristics they may have. They are more likely to be dealing with other important issues, fact which in turn makes them more likely to use and abuse something and express addictive behaviors. Many members of the group are struggling with issues of personal identity. Being able to recognize and accept their sexual identity and incorporate it in the overall self can often be a challenging process, during which a variety of thoughts, emotions and reactions are exhibited. The experience of each person is unique, but many would argue that the procedure of dealing with their sexuality is not an easy or quick one. Moreover, members of the LGBT community may be facing or may have faced social troubles, such as social exclusion, mockery, homophobia, stigmatization and lack of social support- both in the personal level, and in the cultural sphere. Despite that in the recent years, societies have progressed in their understanding of the LGBT needs, they are still a group that faces social challenges (from being bullied as teenagers by peers, to desiring to marry and have children, which in many countries is prohibited by law) (Cauce, Cochran, 2006). Those can affect not only the process of building a congruent identity, but also everyday living: sometimes the choice of becoming a member of this group is accompanied by a certain way of life. For example, for some, being a homosexual male might mean that they will have to go to night clubs to seek sexual partners, thus engage in a lifestyle that promotes alcohol, nicotine and drug consumption, and that they might have to be under the influence of some substance in order to perform sexually. Lately it has been reported that there is the possibility of drug use related to sexual activities inside the homes of the individuals, while the concept of becoming engaged in more extreme sexual behaviors under the influence has also been reported (Abdulrahim, Bowden- Jones, Moncrieff, Whiteley, 2016, Matthews, Selvidge, 2005) To add up to that, it has been argued that the LGBT group is more prone to certain life issues, such as homelessness, physical abuse and physical illnesses, especially STDs (Cochran, Cauce, 2006).
Having considered the above, it can be noted that there are specific issues to think about when members of the LGBT community come for treatment. They may come to treatment for their addiction but could be also facing simultaneously other core issues. Many of the individuals that experience addictions can have several other issues (ranging from practical life problems, to personal issues and psychopathology), but a LGBT person can be struggling with the core of their identity and selfhood, as well (Cochran, Cauce, 2006). This can alter the process and the outcome of the treatment with a focus on addiction. Moreover, it has to be kept in mind that they may lack social support. This can range from the support of families, to that of communities and the overall culture they live in (Abdulrahim, Bowden- Jones, Moncrieff, Whiteley, 2016). On the contrary, they may not have any of the issues mentioned above. Not all individuals that belong to the LGBT community have sexual identity- related troubles, and not all troubles of a LGBT person should automatically be translated as such. Finally, professionals engaging in the treatment of LGBT individuals should keep in mind that: on the one hand, it has been reported that those who are trained to treat the LGBT can be more helpful, and on the other hand, each should check their own thoughts and feelings towards the group before engaging in treatment. Some professionals may have homophobic sentiments; even if those are neither too intense, nor particularly recognized they may still influence the outcome of the treatment (Matthews, Selvidge, 2005).
Overall, the LGBT group may be more vulnerable to developing an addiction of any kind, and there are certain things to consider in treatment based upon that.
Abdulrahim, D., Bowden- Jones, O., Moncrieff, M., Whiteley, C., (2016). Club drug use among lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people, Novel Psychoactive Treatment UK Network (NEPTUNE), London, UK, 2016
Cauce, A., M., Cochran, B., N., (2006). Characteristics of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals entering substance abuse treatment, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 30, 135-146
Matthews, C., R., Selvidge, M., M., D., (2005). Lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients’ experiences in treatment for addivtion, Journal of Lesbian Studies, 9 (3), 79-90