Inclusivity in Treatment for Addiction: Ensuring LGBTQ+ Safe Spaces

Inclusivity in Treatment for Addiction: Ensuring LGBTQ+ Safe Spaces

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

As we continue in the twenty-first century, one of the biggest issues we face in addictions and mental health counseling is inclusivity in treatment. Today, we are grappling with a past that led to the marginalization of minority groups throughout the country.

Under the LGBTQ+ umbrella is a rainbow of terms that describe many different people. This includes people with different sexual orientations and gender identities. Many people in this diverse community are leery of opening up about themselves, fearing that they may be persecuted based on who they are. LGBTQ+ individuals can face an uphill battle in seeking treatment for mental illness and substance use disorder (SUD). Prejudice can keep them from getting the treatment they need.

One of the biggest hurdles faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community regarding inclusivity in treatment is finding safe spaces. Some members of this marginalized community lack adequate family and social support, often due to ostracism. At First Steps Recovery, we believe everyone belongs. We work to create a safe and accepting environment for all individuals.

First Steps Recovery’s Commitment to Inclusivity in Treatment

Providing safe and accepting spaces for clients to find real growth and happiness in treatment is paramount. It is also exactly what we do for all of those who seek services at First Steps Recovery. We know that members of the LGBTQ+ community will find the safe harbor they need inside our doors.

One of the first tenets of care is that we seek to be culturally competent in the care of our clients. Cultural competence means we go beyond the facts of other cultural points of reference and seek to personally understand a person’s cultural influences. This means we understand and address those issues, leading to appropriate inclusivity in treatment.

Though often referred to as a single acronym, the LGBTQ+ community is a diverse array of unique groups on many spectrums. The LGBTQ+ community has adopted a sort of inclusive language. As practitioners who treat this oft-maligned community, we also seek to speak the same language and provide healing to all of its members.

Inclusivity in Treatment: Tailoring Treatment to LGBTQ+ Individuals

Utilizing the terminology of the LGBTQ+ community based on their own culturally specific understanding is important. For example, we use “cisgender” to describe a person who identifies with the sex they are assigned at birth. “Cis” comes from the Latin, meaning “on the same side as.” Conversely, we use the term “transgender” to describe someone who identifies with a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth. “Trans” comes from the Latin as well, and means “on the other side of.”

When we understand and utilize the same terminology and speak the same language as marginalized groups, we practice cultural competence. This in turn helps to create spaces where all people feel safe and supported. A sense of safety is exactly what members of the LGBTQ+ community need when seeking addiction or mental health treatment.

Fostering Inclusivity in Treatment and Greater Belonging

Studies show that when members of the LGBTQ+ community are shown compassion through inclusivity in treatment, they respond well. Cultural competency during the treatment process results in an increased likelihood of successful care. To achieve success, professionals who are members of this community and those who are not must provide culturally competent care.

At First Steps Recovery, we know the importance of our staff being sensitive and knowledgeable regarding all people from all walks of life. We want our home to be our clients’ home, a place that is safe and equitable. When our clients come to our facility, we want them to know that their successful care is our primary concern.

Fostering Safe Environments for Inclusivity in Treatment

Despite all of the advances in LGBTQ+ acceptance in recent years, this community remains marginalized. Many people within this vulnerable section of society still face stigmas and traumas of rejection, stereotyping, and discrimination. All of these prevent individuals in the LGBTQ+ community from seeking treatment for mental health and addictions.

One of the best ways to combat this marginalization is with effective communication. When we openly and equitably communicate, we provide a space for LGBTQ+ individuals to voice their concerns and requirements for well-being.

Opening Up to Family and Found Family: Navigating Support Systems

Another component of the equation is listening. We cannot simply provide a space for LGBTQ+ individuals to speak. This means we must be willing to listen to what they have to say and take action when we can to make spaces more equitable. In doing so, we begin to establish a support system that is accepting of all people.

Many LGBTQ+ people lack a support structure. Some may have found themselves ostracized from their families. There may even be deep wounds within them inflicted by the people they loved.

It is important to help families who desire assistance to understand how to love and support their LGBTQ+ family members. To accomplish this, we have to recognize the concept of “found family” within this community. Regardless of whether a family is by birth or is created, LGBTQ+ individuals facing addiction treatment need the love and support of those around them.

Creating Safe and Sober Environments: In and Out of Treatment

A big reason we need support is to create sober environments when treatment and recovery are over. At First Steps Recovery, we are here to help our clients, their families, and their friends create inclusive environments where they can feel safe.

We do this by setting appropriate boundaries, helping clients and their support groups to understand triggers, and helping individuals find supportive communities. When we align our recovery goals, we create the necessary conditions for LGBTQ+ members’ recovery, well-being, and personal growth.

In the last decade, the inclusivity of members of the LGBTQ+ community in our society has advanced by leaps and bounds. Still, we have a long way to go before we can claim victory for LGBTQ+ rights. As a member of this community, you may still feel unsafe in certain environments. For those who face uphill battles with addiction treatment, finding a care facility for your unique needs can be difficult. At First Steps Recovery, we understand and want to help you find safety in our treatment program. Our goal is to show you that you are safe and protected here as you find help for your struggles. Call us at (844) 489-0836 today.

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