The Intersection between the LGBT+ Community and Recovery

Substance misuse disorders affect everyone, regardless of social status, ethnicity, religious background, or sexual identity. Often, these groups may experience individualized challenges during the recovery process. LGBT+ community members may be coping with higher incidences of mental illness, including substance misuse disorders.  Issues such as homophobia, social anxiety, depression, normalized use of substances to facilitate dating or sex, and trauma sometimes feel like barriers to recovery.  Recovery from substance misuse disorders is available to all, and while there may be unique needs for individuals in the LGBT+ community, with a little effort and understanding on the parts of all involved, long-term success is possible. Many treatment centers now offer specialized LGBT+ treatment programs, from detox to outpatient, designed to cater exclusively to the LGBT+ community, providing a safe and empathetic environment for the first challenging period of recovery.

Sponsorship, fellowship, and interpersonal dynamics

After treatment, it may be complicated or difficult for LGBT+ newcomers to take the suggestions of calling experienced members and finding at least a temporary sponsor (for 12-step fellowships). Deciding whom to select as a sponsor is a deeply personal one. For those in the LGBT+ community, it is important to select a sponsor with which romantic or sexual attraction won’t become a distraction.  Another best practice for socialization is visiting LGBT+ oriented recovery groups to build a network of people who have similar experiences. This doesn’t mean LGBT+ people in recovery should refrain from connecting with anyone at a meeting; no one is unique in recovery and everyone is there to seek as well as offer assistance.  Learning to develop healthy romantic connections without chemical help can be very challenging, so it is important to have a strong platonic network before embarking on a new relationship in recovery.

Healing the whole self

A 12-step or other recovery program is designed to address substance misuse. Many people, LGBT+ or otherwise, come into recovery with other issues, from mental illness to long term health problems, housing concerns, food insecurity, lack of insurance, and issues with employment. It can be helpful to accept professional help when appropriate in order to grow into a healthy, active, LGBT+ person in long-term recovery from a substance misuse disorder.

The Ammon Foundation is proud to offer scholarships for people in recovery seeking to further their education. Check out our blog to learn about previous Ammon Foundation Scholarship Recipients, ways to stay active in your recovery, and information for professionals about the recovery process!