Training and Education

As lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals become more accepted and visible, they are seeking culturally sensitive, if not culturally specific, substance abuse treatment services. To help develop LGBT-sensitive care, providers can find competent care standards in the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) Technical Assistance Publication #21, Addiction Counseling Competencies: The Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes of Professional Practice (1998b), and in the 1999 CSAT publication, Cultural Issues in Substance Abuse Treatment (1999b).

Training and education programs seek to improve understanding of the complex issues with which LGBT individuals struggle. To support the diverse LGBT population, educators, administrators, substance abuse treatment professionals, nurses, clinical supervisors, students, other professionals, and local communities all should be considered in the educational process.

A holistic approach to treatment is most likely to enable LGBT individuals to effect real change in their lives. Therefore, a multifaceted approach is suggested to improve the present situation, wherein treatment professionals and society have incomplete and inadequate information that often leads to a misunderstanding of LGBT issues and even a denial that LGBT individuals have special needs.

Substance abuse treatment professional training programs, faculties, institutions, administrators, health care “gatekeepers,” and community settings all require education and training. Targeting certain community dimensions is crucial to the success of a training or education program.