Issues To Consider
The following information could be included in a training or educational program.
Barriers to Treatment Access
Barriers to adequate substance abuse treatment for the LGBT community have been touched on in other chapters. In addition to the reasons any prospective client might have, the reasons LGBT individuals may avoid or delay seeking professional care include fear of disclosing their sexual orientation or gender and previous experiences with health care providers who attempted to convert them to heterosexuality, who attributed their substance abuse to their sexual or gender orientation, or who were otherwise judgmental and unsupportive.
Engagement and Retention
LGBT individuals may leave treatment prematurely for the same reasons as non-LGBT clients. But LGBT clients may have additional treatment difficulties if a facility lacks culturally specific services, if it lacks self-identified LGBT practitioners or sensitive counselors, if it has few contacts with the non-substance-abusing LGBT community, or if it fails to engage non-LGBT clients in exploring their prejudices or honoring diversity.
While many programs address relapse prevention, LGBT clients may need additional help to find LGBT-specific resources, which may be scarce outside metropolitan areas. LGBT clients may have difficulty addressing problems with their sexual or gender orientation and may have difficulty with their families of origin, complications related to other addictive behaviors, and issues related to HIV/AIDS, such as grief and loss or medication compliance. Additional counseling referrals for these issues may be required.
Lacking specific and often essential information about the special problems of LGBT clients, professionals may attribute treatment failures to the clientele rather than to the insufficient training and education about LGBT issues that resulted in inappropriate treatment by the providers.