LGBTQ-friendly drug and alcohol treatment centers work to address the unique needs of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning. As opposed to treating these individuals as outsiders, these treatment facilities offer safe environments which can aid them on their path to recovery from substance abuse or addiction.

Despite sexual orientation being a relatively old social construct, many federally funded research programs are only now being parsed for information related to sexual minorities. Recent research has acknowledged that individuals who identify as LGBTQ are more likely to experience substance abuse and mental health issues, compared to individuals who identify as heterosexual.

One possible explanation for the increased rate of substance abuse among LGBTQ individuals is that they often experience internalized homophobia. To deal with negative emotions associated with internalized homophobia such as self-hatred, some people may use mood-altering substances for temporary relief. Once substance withdrawal begins, it can reinforce self-loathing and lead to further interpersonal damage.

It is important that the standard concerns of addiction treatment be addressed as well as any additional personal concerns which many LGBTs may face.

Why Choose LGBTQ-Friendly Drug And Alcohol Treatment Center?

Although it is possible for members of the LGBTQ community to complete substance abuse treatment at conventional drug and alcohol rehab centers, there are advantages to receiving substance abuse treatment from programs tailored to meet their needs.

Compared to standard drug and alcohol treatment centers, LGBTQ-friendly facilities tend to have staff who are experienced in handling sexual orientation- and sexual expression- related issues that staff from traditional treatment centers may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with.

Individuals in sexual minorities may feel isolated, ostracized or left out of the healing process at standard treatment centers, while LGBTQ-friendly centers work to ensure these individuals feel a sense of belonging while enrolled in treatment.

Counselors should have an understanding of the coming out process, stages of sexual identity development and how to incorporate these tools into the treatment setting. Many mainstream substance abuse treatment facilities typically do not have LGBTQ-identified staff. Some studies have even indicated that almost 50 percent of substance abuse counselors have no formal training with LGBTQ issues or how they relate to substance abuse.


While all addiction treatment maintains the same goal of helping individuals break the cycle of addiction, treatment centers that cater to LGBTQ communities often have more complex goals as well. LGBTQ individuals may need assistance with fundamental identity issues which often relate back to their substance abuse. Some of them may need to explore their sexual orientation to fully understand why they abused drugs or alcohol.

Reputable LGBTQ-friendly drug and alcohol treatment facilities can help individuals manage the complexities of specific LGBTQ issues in addition to substance abuse and addiction.

Potential Barriers To Addiction Recovery For LGBTQ Individuals

Many LGBTQs face discrimination and, at times, outright rejection from society as a whole. As a result, they may be reluctant to disclose their sexual orientation during substance abuse treatment. Unfortunately, various service institutions, such as shelters, social service agencies, and substance abuse treatment centers may discriminate or disapprove of individuals who identify as LGBTQ, making it more difficult for them to receive help.

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Transgender individuals may encounter issues in standard treatment centers which often provide gender-specific treatment and housing. LGBTQs who enroll in religious programs may feel as if their treatment providers are attempting to sway their personal beliefs because they think that they are wrong in some way.

Each of these experiences may make LGBTQ individuals feel more like victims during treatment rather than collaborators in a positive therapeutic experience.

What To Expect From LGBTQ-Friendly Addiction Treatment Programs

Individualized addiction treatment has been shown to be more effective than one-size-fits-all treatment approaches. This is particularly true for LGBTQ individuals who grapple with additional challenges throughout the recovery process.

While all rehab centers provide essential support programs to aid those in recovery, LGBTQ-friendly facilities typically offer more targeted support programs, including:

Accepting environment: Historically, homosexuality has been seen as a negative thing, and some rehab centers still separate or shame their LGBTQ clients in an attempt to “cure” them of their sexual orientation. LGBTQ- friendly rehab centers promote a more accepting environment, which can include a basic understanding and openness to transgender issues concerning names, bathroom facilities and housing, for example.


Dual-diagnosis therapy: LGBTQ drug and alcohol rehab programs often have the knowledge and capacity to diagnose other conditions in addition to addiction itself. It is possible for individuals to be addicted to more than one substance at a time, experience co-occurring mental health disorders or have additional medical considerations such as HIV or hepatitis.

Support from LGBTQ peers: One vital component to addiction treatment is group therapy. LGBTQ-friendly programs are more likely to bring together individuals who share similar life experiences. Instead of feeling like they are on the outside looking in, LGBTQ individuals may feel they are more involved in the group and healing process.

Additional counseling services for partners and families: Traditional family therapy and marriage counseling doesn’t always have the same effect on people in the LGBTQ community. Whether they are single or are involved with a partner, LGBTQ-friendly counselors make an effort to take into account the way an individual’s sexual orientation and its influences on their relationships.

Get Help Finding Individualized LGBTQ-Friendly Addiction Treatment Centers

Finding reputable and experienced drug and alcohol addiction treatment that is also LGBTQ-friendly can seem daunting. Here are some questions to consider when choosing which treatment program to enroll in:

  • What are the individual components of the treatment program, and do they consider LGBTQ issues?
  • What are the program’s success rates?
  • What are the program’s confidentiality agreements? Will they report an individual’s sexual orientation to state officials or employers?
  • Are the counselors experienced in handling LGBTQ concerns and issues?
  • Are LGBTQ individuals segregated in any way from the rest of the participants in the program? If so, why?

Addiction treatment is complex and ever-changing. Typically, individuals will detox from a substance and then proceed to an inpatient program. It is essential to the recovery process that individuals feel comfortable in their surroundings, and LGBTQ-friendly drug and alcohol rehab centers provide the best chance that they will.