Blog | Addiction Recovery

Addiction Help for the LGBTQ Community

By Becca Owens

Rainbow heart in handsEach person’s experience in life is unique, and how you process your life experiences can greatly affect your success and your stay in an addiction treatment program. If you’re part of the LGBTQ community, recovery can present distinct challenges unless you’ve chosen a treatment center that’s sensitive to your specialized needs.

The good news is, many treatment centers are LGBTQ-friendly and seek to serve those in the LGBTQ community who are struggling with addiction and looking for a fresh and sober start to life.

Why Is Addiction So Common in the LGBTQ Community?

Research shows that addiction rates are higher in the LGBTQ community than the general population. According to a recent study, 40 percent of respondents identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual reported using illicit drugs — including illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin as well as misuse of prescription drugs — within the last year. That’s 23 percent higher than heterosexual respondents.1

Many factors may contribute to this substantial difference in substance abuse rates in the LGBTQ community, such as:

  • Minority and discrimination stress – People in the LGBTQ community often experience higher levels of anxiety and depression as a result of daily discrimination. Discrimination can be formal, like in the workplace or housing market, or informal, as in social settings. Either way, it’s an ongoing reality for LGBTQ individuals. Even if you haven’t experienced discrimination firsthand, the reality is well-known through tragic news stories, and the fear can be just as crippling.
  • Lack of cultural competency – When people don’t know how to appropriately interact with you because of your sexuality, you’re often the one who bears the burden. More importantly, if you’re dealing with mental health or addiction issues and the professionals in those fields aren’t well-versed in LGBTQ culture and the unique challenges you face, you may not get the help you need to sustain a long-term recovery.
  • Targeted marketing – Many companies market their products specifically to LGBTQ people because they know drinking and smoking rates are higher in that community and that bars and nightclubs provide a safe social space for many LGBTQ individuals. These targeted marketing strategies can perpetuate the cycle of substance abuse.2

The Benefits of an LGBTQ Treatment Program

If you already feel ostracized or oppressed, it can be overwhelming to choose an addiction treatment center that feels welcoming. Addiction treatment should be a positive experience that empowers you to pursue a better life apart from drugs and alcohol. That’s why finding the right facility is key.

LGBTQ-friendly treatment centers are staffed with specially trained professionals who have a heartfelt desire to serve the unique needs of LGBTQ patients. You’ll be in recovery alongside other participants who share similar experiences and can identify with the challenges you may face when it comes to work, friendships and family. In specialized programs, there’s an openness to discuss the stress and stigma of LGBTQ culture, as well as a community of support to help you prepare for the challenges of re-entering everyday life while pursuing sobriety.

Help for the LGBTQ Community

If you or someone you love in the LGBTQ community is struggling with addiction, we can help. At Michael’s House, we have helped many people overcome their addictions in a caring, non-judgmental atmosphere.

In one recent example, an article for the Desert Sun highlights the story of Kaitlin Riordan, a former Michael’s House patient who was able to achieve the sobriety she needed in order to complete the transition she had been desiring. She says that her time at Michael’s House saved her life, and now she seeks to help others with similar struggles find freedom and health.3

Please call us anytime, 24 hours a day, to talk with an admissions coordinator about beginning your journey to freedom from addiction. We want to help you heal from your addiction in a caring and understanding environment.


1 Gutierrez-Morfin, N. “Report: Lesbian, Gay and Bi Adults Have Higher Drug Abuse Rates.” NBC News, October 24, 2016.

2 Hunt, J. “Why the Gay and Transgender Population Experiences Higher Rates of Substance Use.” Center for American Progress, March 9, 2012.

3 Anders, A. “Trans life: Lifting the veil on addiction and recovery.” Desert Sun, September 1, 2017.