Rehabs Struggle To Address Higher Addiction Rates & Lower Treatment Success In LGBT Community.

Suffering from addiction is something I do not wish to go through. We all have that friend that masks their addiction as something else, something they can treat on their own, or something that they will take care of eventually. 

I remember one friend that was going to go into treatment once he returned to D.C. since they had better places for gays to go to down there than they had in Maine.  His thoughts were that he would be more welcome in a place with more gays than if he went to a place that had predominantly straight clients.  I kind of laughed that off since his addiction had nothing to do with his homosexuality and he was out to everyone, but maybe he was right.


It’s often said that drug addiction is an equal opportunity disease — but research suggests that’s not entirely true.

Studies have shown that LGBTQ individuals are both more likely to be addicts and more likely to struggle in treatment than their straight and cisgender counterparts.

Molly Gilbert, who works at the PRIDE Institute — a Minneapolis-based addiction treatment program founded in 1986 with a specific focus on treating the LGBTQ community — said that most data shows that somewhere between 28% and 35% of the LGBTQ community has a substance abuse problem.

“This estimate contrasts with an incidence of 10% to 12% for the general population,” she said.

Scott Benjamin, a gay man in recovery, said that did not surprise him.

“There’s kind of a party culture in the LGBT community,” he said.

Gilbert agreed and said that the gay bar scene is often considered a risk factor.

“But,” she said, “these bars have often been the only places where LGBT folks can socialize and feel free from the prevailing oppression that is experienced every day in a strongly heterosexist society.”

Another reason LGBTQ patients may struggle in treatment is simply that it’s difficult being gay.

“The society in which we live marginalizes the LGBT community,” Gilbert said. “Some LGBT individuals self-medicate with drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with or numb feelings associated with heterosexism.”

In addition to a higher incidence of substance abuse, LGBT people have a harder time in treatment, according to some data.

“We saw that our LGBT clients were having to seek more treatment episodes and more detoxes before getting to us,” Buster Ross, the LGBTQ integrated program director at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's Springbrook campus in Oregon, told the Daily News.

A Hazelden Betty Ford study published last year in the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services showed that LGBTQ people had been through nearly twice as many inpatient treatment episodes and three times as many detoxes as their straight counterparts by the time they arrive at the facility.

Gilbert said the findings were no surprise.

“We believe LGBTQ clients struggle more, not only with treatment but recovery in general,” she said. –


Do you agree?  Have you seen this first hand? 

Do LGBT-ers need more rehab and recovery? 

Or is it just the ones that go in there are doubled down with addiction and the difficulty of being gay?


Benjamin said that the first time he tried treatment it didn’t stick and, worse, his counselor accidentally outed him to his father.

Though he’d come out to the rest of his family in his early 30s, Benjamin was reluctant to come out to his father. Then, in 2004 his father was diagnosed with brain cancer and given only a few months to live.

Benjamin was already struggling with a drinking problem and that was the final straw. He checked himself into a psych ward.

“I told the counselor I didn’t want my dad to know,” he said, “but then during a family visit she slipped up and said I was going to LGBT meeting.

“She realized she made a mistake and then she said, ‘Maybe this would be a good time to tell him.’”

So Benjamin came out to his dad.

“The counselor said , ‘Do you still love your son?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I still love my son,’” Benjamin recounted. “That was two months before he passed away.”

In the end, the unintentional outing worked out okay but Benjamin said he thinks that’s a mistake that wouldn’t have happened at a facility more in tune with LGBTQ treatment needs. –


To see how Scott Benjamin did and to read more of the New York Daily News, go over to the full story here.

Was my friend dealing with being gay as well as an addiction?  Hard to tell since I was not him.  If he was good at hiding his addiction to others, maybe he was good at hiding his feelings about being gay from even his friends.  I'm not sure what happened with him since his behavior drove us apart as well as pushed most everyone else out of his life. I do hope he is doing well and finally did seek out the help he needed.



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