Does your sexuality or gender identity affect your ability to overcome alcoholism? No. But it does influence how and why you drink and the resources you’ll need to get sober.As a lesbian, you face unique challenges. The attitudes of others influence how you experience life. You may have to deal with very real barriers to employment, healthcare and legal rights. You may have to deal with isolation, feelings of shame or mental health issues. You may try to manage or mask your thoughts and feelings with alcohol. If you do, you’re not alone.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports: “When compared with the general population, LGBT people are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, have higher rates of substance abuse, are less likely to abstain from use, and are more likely to continue heavy drinking into later life. Some studies have found that approximately 30 percent of all lesbians have an alcohol abuse problem.”1
When you reach out for help with alcohol use, you’ll find you’re in good company. You will find like-minded peers who understand who you are and where you’re coming from. You’ll find caring, compassionate professionals who can help you address your individual concerns and needs. When your treatment providers and peers understand the unique challenges you face as a lesbian in recovery, you have the opportunity to heal.
Isolation and Alcoholism
Learning why you drink helps you understand why rehab is so important. Addiction is a big problem for lesbian women. As mentioned before, this may be the result of social and cultural isolation, stigma or misunderstanding. Treatment helps you find compassion and community. It helps you learn you aren’t alone. While in rehab you will get the chance to learn and practice healthy coping skills. These skills help you manage stress and react to outside influences in healthy ways.
Mental Health and Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol and drug abuse are also connected to mental health. The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that “sexual minorities with SUDs (Substance Use Disorders) are more likely to have additional (comorbid or co-occurring) psychiatric disorders. For example, gay and bisexual men and lesbian and bisexual women report greater odds of frequent mental distress and depression than their heterosexual counterparts…Thus it is particularly important that LGBT people in SUD treatment be screened for other psychiatric problems (as well as vice versa) and all identifiable conditions should be treated concurrently.”2
Issues like depression and anxiety may predate your alcohol use, or they may be caused or worsened by it. No matter which is the cause and which is the effect, you need treatment for both to find lasting health. Integrated treatment addresses all aspects of health at once. It helps you do so much more than temporarily stop drinking. It provides a way to find a healthy, happy life for good.
Finding Lesbian Alcohol Rehab
When you’ve had enough of alcohol’s influence on your life, it’s time to take the next step. Choose an alcohol rehab program that offers treatment tailored for lesbians. Look for culturally competent care that understands the needs of the LGBT community. This type of treatment does exist, and it does work. NBC News reported “a silver lining for the LGBTQ community,” in that “lesbian, gay and bisexual adults were more likely than their sexual majority counterparts to receive any substance use treatment.”3 You are in a great position to speak up, step forward and take action.
Here at Michael’s House, we offer a comprehensive and evidence-based treatment program. We understand the unique needs of the LGBT community. Our professional treatment team is compassionate, experienced and ready to create a customized treatment plan just for you. Call, and learn how you can begin your recovery today.
1A Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individuals. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2012.
2 “Substance Use and SUDs in LGBT Populations.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Sep. 2017.
3 Gutierrez-Morfin, Noel. “Report: Lesbian, Gay and Bi Adults Have Higher Drug Abuse Rates.” NBC News. 24 Oct. 2016.
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