gay and sober lgbtqia lifestyle recovery

Gay and Sober Recovery

Are You Looking For:  Gay and LGBTQA Friendly AA Meetings in Orange County, CA?

Substance misuse is not discriminatory; it may afflict people of any background. Even if you had the best possible upbringing and came from a loving, supportive family, you are not immune to the illness of addiction.

Unfortunately, certain groups still do have disproportionately high rates of drug abuse and dependency.

Multiple studies, including a recent one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have shown that those who identify as LGBTQ+ are disproportionately affected by drug and alcohol addiction compared to the overall population. Alcoholism is very prevalent among this group of people.

Why Substance Abuse is Higher in the LGBTQ+ Community

In addition, the CDC found that those who identify as LGBTQ+ were more likely to engage in heavy drinking throughout middle age and beyond. Substance addiction prevalence is high because of these potential dangers.

  • The homophobic behaviors of others might make people in the LGBTQ+ community feel upset and alone.
  • The discriminating slurs or activities of others can lead to trauma and emotional distress.
  • Attacks on the LGBTQ+ community can also have a lingering and negative effect.
  • Feelings of embarrassment or regret often affect the LGBTQ+ demographic.
  • Some gay people experience hostility from close relatives.
  • Abuse and harassment during the early years has ongoing ramifications.
  • The experience of early trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, may have a long-lasting impac.t
  • An uptick in the prevalence of co-occurring disorders, such as alcoholism and HIV or a mental disorder, causes alcoholics in the LGQTQ+ community to self-medicate.

That is why it is important to seek recovery in a community that offers rehab to people of the LGBTQ demographic. This type of support can go a long way in providing the recovering alcoholic what they need in terms of acceptance and emotional and medical intervention.

The Influence of the Online Group, Gay & Sober (GS)

Indeed, this type of backing is helpful, as can been shown by several support groups online, For example, Gay & Sober (GS), which first started as a private Facebook group in 2009, provides a forum for gay men who’ve been through recovery.

The recovery group has since become an international online community that fosters online communications and sponsors in-person sober events for LGBTQ people who have recovered from abusing alcohol and drugs.

Therefore, it’s important to reinforce sober practices after you’ve been through rehab through ongoing group support. When you can communicate in this way, you can feel more confident about your future, which also reduces the chance of a relapse.

Signing up for meetings, for example, at will help keep you focused on staying sober and looking at your situation differently.

Going to an LGBTQ Treatment Program

By becoming part of an LGBTQ rehab center, you can make strides in treating either a dual diagnosis or finding the underlying psychological reasons for your addiction. Having this type of help can give you a new lease on life and help you view life’s challenges with a different perspective.

Discrimination and Substance Abuse

As noted, gay people, or those part of the LGBTQ+ community, experience an increased risk for abusing substances based on discrimination. This discrimination may take the form of employment, housing, legal aid, or healthcare.

The effect of discrimination is felt more keenly among people on the margins of society, whether it is due to social standing, race, ethnicity, or handicap, or gender identification – all which leads to a wide variety of outcomes.

The Results of Prejudice and Homophobia Toward the Gay Community

Having your feeling of security, your capacity to provide for yourself, or confidence in others severely tested are just some of the many negative outcomes of prejudice. Because of this type of bias, the affected individual may turn to drugs or alcohol or develop a psychological problem.

People turn to drugs and alcohol to evade what they’re feeling, to relieve mental pain, or to numb the upsets that relate to discriminatory thoughts or memories.

Facts show that 20% to 30% of transgender and gay people abuse substances, compared to around 9% of the general population.

What is “Internalized Homophobia”

Also, there is the problem with “internalized homophobia,”1 or the struggle to accept your sexual orientation. Societal stigma and being raised in an environment that is hostile to LGBTQ+ people are common causes of homophobia.

This tendency may lead to a sense of inferiority or wrongness, which may be reinforced by others who hold homophobic viewpoints. Internalizing messages that are discriminatory or cruel may have a detrimental impact on mental health and may lead to self-medication as a means of escaping or coping.
Harassment and Physical Attacks

The LGBTQ community is also disproportionately represented among both victims and survivors of violent crime. This manifests into the following problems:

● Harassment and bullying,
● Abusive behavior inside and outside the home
● Early life traumas

Comorbid Mental Health Conditions

Comorbidity defines the co-occurrence of physical and mental health3 disorders within the same individual, regardless of the timing or causal path that connects them. As a result, many people in the LGBQT+ community suffer from a mental health disorder and drug or alcohol abuse. Along with an addiction, members may face mental health illnesses such as:

  • Obsessive-compulsive illness
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Problems with eating and their body image
  • Severe depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Moreover, a person’s efforts to stop using drugs or alcohol may be diminished if their mental condition is not addressed.

As a result, continual substance abuse can lead to a feeling of poor self-worth, despair, suicide, and self-harm. Substance abuse may cause and worsen suicidal ideation as well.

Treatment Challenges for Gay People in Recovery

It often takes numerous stages of care, from detoxification to inpatient care to outpatient therapy, to recover from drug misuse and addiction.Unfortunately, many people who require higher levels of care who are part of the LGBTQ demographic cannot obtain them.

This is particularly true for those without health insurance or those who need specialized treatment for co-existing physical or mental health conditions. LGBTQ individuals may have a variety of barriers for receiving care, which may make the therapeutic process more difficult.
LGBTQ patients often face the following therapy challenges:2

  1. Affordability: With or without insurance, receiving treatment for mental health and drug use issues may be quite expensive. Because of the greater incidence of poverty and homelessness in this group, LGBTQ people may have modest to major financial obstacles to receiving addiction treatment.
  2. Distrust: Numerous LGBTQ persons claim that medical and behavioral health professionals discriminate against them. This may breed mistrust, discourage individuals from getting therapy, and make it difficult for them to participate completely in the healing process.
  3. Lack of Access to Care:Due to expense, transportation limitations, or staff beliefs-unaware about LGBTQ-related concerns–not all drug and alcohol recovery facilities are accessible to LGBTQ patients.

Providing Treatment for the LGBTQ+ Community

Although there may be extra factors to take into account, therapy for substance abuse for the LGBTQ+ group is often the same as for the general population.

To assist address the physical, emotional, mental, and psychological elements of addiction, rehab often entails a broad variety of therapy programs and methods.

Adopting care standards, however, may help guarantee that LGBTQ clients get competent and thorough treatment regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.

To do this rehab centers for LGBTQ clients must be culturally sensitive and conducive to long-term treatment. They must also feature a wide range of therapies so LGBTQ people can find a treatment approach right for them.

Treatment programs should also be designed to accept transgender and nonbinary patients – according to their gender recognition, not their assigned birth sex.

Continuum of Care

In addition, it is helpful that facilities  offer a continuum of care, including:

  • Housing assistance
  • Job help
  • Planning assistance for after discharge from rehab
  • Aftercare follow-up and support (very important for anyone who may have a high risk of relapse)

Collaboration and Comprehensive Care

Collaboration and comprehensive care are also important, as it gives patients a feeling of empowerment – that they have a significant voice in their care. This type of service also addresses all aspects of medical care, including a co-occuring mental disorder, sexual health, or body dysphoria (obsessive thoughts about defects in one’s appearance).

LGBTQ+ Rehab Treatment Programs

LGBTQ+ rehab may be offered as inpatient rehab (which provides medical intervention, detoxification, and behavioral health services), usually for 90 days, or residential treatment, which may cover a 30- to 90-day time frame. Residential treatment programs are similar to inpatient treatment programs but are often more home-like and may or may not offer detoxification.

Outpatient rehab covers 30- to 180-day treatment programs, and some are even longer. The patient, however, visits the facility without staying overnight. Community centers or rehab health clinics may also feature programs, and counseling is available as well, that is specialized for people in the LGBTQ+ community.


You can get the rehab help you need if you’re gay or a part of the LGBTQ community. While you may have to travel to some centers for care, you can battle your addiction and gain the confidence you need to improve your quality of life and overall mental and physical health.

Sober Living Bedroom

Clean living quarters are ‘a must’ in recovery.

What Are the Advantages of Staying in a Sober Living House?

Chances are that when you were using, you hung out with other people who were doing the same thing. The main thing you had in common with these people was an interest in using your drug of choice. Now that you’re on a different path, you need to connect with others who are on the same path as you in order to avoid becoming so lonely and bored that you go back to your old circle of “friends.”

Another reason to live in community with others who are on the same path is accountability. Your new friends and the house itself will hold you accountable to go forward in recovery by working a 12 step program. A good sober living home has rules, including:

  • Not using alcohol or other drugs (and many require regular drug/alcohol screening)
  • Working the 12 steps with a sponsor
  • Going to a set number of 12 step meetings every week
  • Seeking employment if you are able to work
  • Respecting the persons and property of other residents
  • Attending weekly house meetings
  • Doing an assigned household chore

Safety Issues: How Can I Tell if the House is a Safe, Healthy Environment?

You shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that just because a house claims to be for people who are living sober that this is the case. Good sober living houses care just as much about helping people to recover from addiction as they do about making a profit. Some sober livings have another agenda. Signs that a house may not be the safest place to recover include:

  • House managers who are disrespectful of residents
  • No rules at all
  • No regular house meetings
  • Residents who are not maintaining sobriety
  • Lack of any sense of community
  • Residents who do not practice personal hygiene
  • The house itself is not safe and sanitary
  • Very high turnover of residents
  • They ask you to attend their church instead of 12 step meetings

A good sober living home should be safe, stable, well kept and run by managers who care about residents and treat them with respect and dignity.

sober support

A sober support system is crucial!

Relapse Happens, Even in the Best Communities

Even in the healthiest houses, some people will relapse. If you’re close to the recovering addict who has a slip this can be painful. You can view it as an opportunity to experience the anguish you put others through when you were using. A good way to be helpful to the person who has a slip is to try to show compassion while maintaining a healthy distance from the behavior. You can let your friend know that you are sad and worried and that you will be there if he or she chooses to get help.

Clean and Sober Living Means Walking Through Pain

Even in the best of situations, living sober means to experience your feelings instead of using a substance to shut them down. This is how people grow spiritually, and it frequently involves experiencing emotional pain. In his book, New Seeds of Contemplation, Trappist monk and author Thomas Merton wrote that we experience living in a community as the healing of “a body of broken bones.” This metaphor Merton coined is spot-on for the sober living experience.

Living with others is never easy. You are bound to disagree or even dislike some of the residents in a sober living home. This is a wonderful opportunity to practice the 12 step program and grow spiritually if you allow yourself to experience these feelings of discomfort without using. You could talk to your sponsor about how to cope with somebody you cannot get along with at the house. Your sponsor is sure to give you advice that is rich in the opportunity to grow in your recovery, to show tolerance, and to help those around you.

1.Internalized Homophobia and Relationship Quality among Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals, available here.
2.Best Practices for Mental Health Facilities Working With LGBT Clients, available here.
3.Substance Use and SUDs in LGBTQ* Populations, available here.