Alcohol and drug use in the LGBTQ+ population is very common. Drug use that is considered “far out” by others is often normalized in this community.
As a gay man, I am often asked to do interventions for gay and lesbian individuals. I have lived the exciting lifestyle of a young gay male in New York City and have been on vacation to all the queer hotspots in Miami, Fire Island, Provincetown, Mykonos, and the Hamptons. During an interveniton I can quickly connect with an LBTQ person, we have an understanding and a common lived experience.
Drug use is a part of the culture; dugs are very normalized, people don’t bat an eye when they see people drink heavily or use cocaine or crystal meth. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, roughly 20 to 30% of the LGBTQ+ community abuses substances, compared to 9% percent of the total population.
For members of the LGBTQ+ community, substance use can begin at a young age, often used to suppress painful secrets, and escape stressful, intrusive thoughts, worry about coming out as different in a culture that may teach that this is wrong. As they develop into adulthood, social interaction tends to revolve around partying, drinking, and using, as is common with other unique, social subgroups. Substance use can serve as glue for numerous social networks.
To complicate interventions on LGBTQ individuals, it is common that they use multiple drugs. Gay men often use testosterone or steroids to to build a muscular body. Cocaine and alcohol abuse go hand in-hand. Men that use crystal meth often supplement the high with Adderall and GHB (G) and use benzos such as Xanax to “come down” and help them get to sleep. A very dangerous mix that must be intervened on immediately.
As a member of the gay community, I have been able to quickly build trusting relationships as I often share commonalities with the person of concern, such as experiences, perspectives, or general knowledge. Like most of them, I have used substances to suppress feelings of shame and kept secrets about who I was, but I’ve recovered and want to encourage them to do the same.
Conducting successful interventions with LGBTQ+ individuals requires personal experience with the community. While the interventionist doesn’t need to be gay, they must be empathetic to the sensitive issues surrounding our identities.
When doing an intervention on and creating a treatment plan for a person in the LGBTQ+ community, our most significant concern is where to place them in rehab. For the best results, they need to be in a rehabilitation center that has extensive experience treating (and accepting) queer and trans people.
In an ideal world, we assess the client population in a treatment center and ensure that there are people from similar communities, so that they wouldn’t be isolated. In our research, we have found excellent treatment programs that support LGBTQ+ individuals, some of which treat them specifically.
But, as expected, most of these centers are in the more liberal areas of the country. Therefore, when we do interventions on queer or trans individuals outside of the coasts, we often suggest that they travel to facilities outside of their state for more successful outcomes.
Currently, almost all major cities have support groups for LGBTQ+ individuals recovering from addiction. One of the largest forces behind long-term recovery is a community that comes together to help them rebuild; 12-step meetings are a great place to start and most cities have gay (or gay friendly) AA meetings.
A fantastic resource to find these support groups is GayandSober.org, which provides an extensive list of LGBTQ+ meetings available across the globe. Many LGBTQ+-friendly resource centers host recovery meetings in their facilities as well. Vibrant, gay communities, like New York City, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Fire Island, Providence Town, the Hamptons, and Sag Harbor, are also great locations with numerous AA meetings.
The staff at Suntra have hands on experience with the LGBTQ+ community, as members or allies. We undergo routine sensitivity training to ensure that we are well-equipped to support our clients through all parts of their recovery journey.
At Suntra Modern Recovery, we accept who you are, wherever you are.
An important article about doing interventions on men that use Crystal Meth, can be found here.
About Suntra and Adam Banks
Adam Banks is a certified interventionist and recovery coach at Suntra Modern Recovery. He received an MBA from the University of Chicago and built a company, which United Health Care acquired. He learned his rigor and attention to detail from his career as an airline pilot, holding an ATP, the FAA’s highest license.
Today Adam is dedicated to working with individuals that want to change their relationship to drinking. Adam Banks is often called by families to help untangle crisis situations through a loving and inclusive approach to interventions. Adam often engages in coaching executives, pilots, and physicians in recovery.
Suntra offers a free video course for families considering hosting an intervention for a family member.
Suntra Modern Recovery provides medical treatment for alcohol and opiate addictions via video visit with medical doctors. Suntra’s alcohol and drug intervention services are available locally in New York, Long Island, the Hamptons as well as nationally and internationally. Treatment for alcohol, opiate and heroin addiction, including Suboxone treatment, can start today.