Avoid the 13th Step
It’s important to keep in mind that recovery is an ongoing process of self-discovery, one that requires dedication and the minimization of distractions. Addiction treatment is based on the principles of self-care and reflection, re-establishing a semblance of structure and normalcy, and reassuming control of your urges and life. Simply put, a recovering addict is not in a mental state to pursue a romantic relationship regardless of their orientation or gender and no respectable recovery professional would ever recommend dating in rehab or during the start of aftercare, let alone dating another individual starting recovery from addiction.
If you date too soon, you may also be using the relationship as a way to quell the urges in early recovery. It is common for addicts to seek instant gratification and experience a transfer of addictions, particularly in the earlier phases. Take time in sobriety to reset those dopamine receptors. Be aware that diving into a new relationship can trigger the same receptors. Ask yourself if you are really ready to share your time with a significant other, or if you are using relationships as a distraction. If you are already dating someone, it is a good idea to discuss with your partner the pace of the relationship. Try to avoid making any big decisions within your first year, like moving in together, marriage or children.
For those reasons, most recovery environments tend to view sexual orientation and gender identification as a secondary concern.
Unique Problems Call for Unique Help
There are specialty treatment programs and facility programs designed to meet the unique and sensitive needs of the LGBT community. While no evidence-based program would ever treat someone for being gay or transgendered, those individuals may face societal, cultural, religious, or familial stresses that their heterosexual or cis identifying counterparts do not – environmental stresses that may have contributed to the underlying cause of their addiction, or stresses that must be addressed to minimize the threat of relapse. For example, a LGBT oriented program may help participants learn how to overcome job discrimination, rejection from family, or how to handle the stress of being misgendered or transitioning without turning to alcohol, drugs or other destructive behavior.
Factors to Consider
It’s important to remember when looking at drug and rehabilitation programs that there are many options to choose from and that they’re not all built the same. Some recovery programs are more religious oriented, some executive programs are more luxurious and exclusive, and those that tailor specifically to the LGBT community do not all do so in the same manner or concentrate on the same issues. Remember, there are a number of programs that counter to LGBT issues and you don’t have to pick one that you don’t feel entirely comfortable with. Here just a few things to consider when considering a program or facility.
- What treatment programs are available? Remember, you’re seeking treatment to get sober. Being LGBT-oriented shouldn’t be your primary concern. Be careful not to get distracted or dazzled by LGBT claims, and ensure that the program services will meet your specific and individual recovery needs.
- What is the focus of the program? Do they specialize in treating a particular dynamic LGBT community? Some programs focus exclusively on transitioning individuals, while others are woman only, catering only to lesbians – and some cater to everyone across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum.
- What kind of LGBT training has the staff received? There’s a difference between being accepting and knowledgeable. Is the staff experienced with helping LGBT patients? Some facilities only hire LGBT staff while others don’t discriminate.
- What is the program’s success rate? No program is perfect and what works for someone else may not work for you, but a good program should still have a fairly high success rate.
- How much does the program cost? And will your insurance cover it? Like many specialty or private programs, in addition to paying for treatment, many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rehab centers require you to pay for your own room and board. If you have special medical needs — for instance, if you are HIV-positive — you may also have to pay extra for medicine and medical treatment you receive during your inpatient stay.