Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
What are substance abuse factors for lgbtq+ individuals?
Substance abuse among LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and others) individuals is influenced by a range of factors. These factors often intersect and can compound the risk for developing substance use disorders. Some of the primary factors include:
- Minority Stress: Minority stress refers to the additional stressors experienced by marginalized groups, such as LGBTQ+ individuals. This includes experiences of discrimination, stigma, harassment, and violence due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. This chronic stress can contribute to increased substance use as a coping mechanism.
- Mental Health: LGBTQ+ individuals are at a higher risk for certain mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These mental health conditions can increase the risk of substance use and substance use disorders.
- Social Isolation and Rejection: The process of coming out to family and friends can sometimes result in rejection or loss of social support. This isolation and rejection can increase feelings of loneliness and despair, which may contribute to substance use.
- Internalized Homophobia or Transphobia: Internalized homophobia or transphobia refers to negative feelings, beliefs, and biases about one's own sexual orientation or gender identity. This internalized stigma can lead to lower self-esteem and increased risk of substance abuse.
- Lack of Access to Culturally Competent Healthcare: Many healthcare providers lack training in LGBTQ+ health issues, including substance use disorders, leading to barriers in access to effective, culturally competent treatment.
- Social Environments and Norms: Certain LGBTQ+ social settings, such as bars or clubs, often center around alcohol or other substance use, which may normalize and facilitate substance abuse.
- Trauma: LGBTQ+ individuals experience higher rates of certain types of trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, hate crimes, or bullying, which can increase the risk of substance use disorders.
Why do drug abusers live in denial?
"Denial is a common characteristic of many people struggling with substance abuse. It involves refusing to accept the reality of their addiction and its damaging consequences. There are several reasons why this denial occurs:
Fear: Admitting a problem means confronting the reality of addiction, including the perceived pain of withdrawal, the work of recovery, and potential stigma. Fear of these challenges can drive a person to deny their problem.
Guilt and Shame: Addiction often brings feelings of guilt and shame. Denial serves as a defense mechanism to avoid these difficult emotions.
Cognitive Impairment: Substance abuse can physically alter brain function, impairing judgment, memory, and self-awareness, making it harder for individuals to recognize or admit they have a problem.
Perception of Normality: If substance use is a daily occurrence, it can seem normal to the person doing it. They may think everyone else is doing the same or that their usage is acceptable or controlled.
Rationalization and Minimization: Individuals with substance use disorders often rationalize their behavior ("I only use on weekends") or minimize the consequences ("I still have my job, so it's not a problem").
Avoidance of Responsibility: Acknowledging the addiction implies a responsibility to change. Denial helps avoid this responsibility.
What is smart recovery?
SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is a global community of mutual-support groups that provide a structured, scientifically grounded program to help people manage their recovery from any type of addictive behavior, including substance abuse and behavioral addictions.
SMART Recovery's approach is different from other recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, which are based on the 12-step model. Instead of focusing on the concept of "powerlessness" over addiction, SMART Recovery emphasizes self-empowerment and self-reliance. It promotes the ability of individuals to change their own thoughts and behaviors to overcome addiction.
The SMART Recovery program is based on principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing. It is designed around a 4-point program:
- Building and maintaining motivation: This helps individuals to build their motivation to change and avoid relapsing.
- Coping with urges: This gives individuals the skills to deal with urges or cravings as they arise.
- Managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors: This is about developing healthy thoughts, emotions, and actions in place of the destructive ones that can lead to addictive behaviors.
- Living a balanced life: This involves individuals identifying what they truly value in life and building their lives around those values, leading to satisfaction and fulfillment beyond their addiction.
SMART Recovery meetings, both in-person and online, are facilitated by trained volunteers and are free to attend, though donations are appreciated. The program also offers a variety of tools and techniques for self-empowerment and self-directed change, available in various formats such as handbooks, worksheets, and online resources.