In any situation where your health (especially your mental health) is directly involved, you should be seeking professionals who are devoted to an ethos of holistic care. Holistic care takes into account all aspects of a patient’s life: spirituality, gender, cultural traditions, and individual beliefs as well as clinical markers of health. It is important that your care plan reflects and respects your whole self, including your gender presentation and identity; given the statistics and levels of causation between anti-LGBTQ stigma and addiction, a sensitive treatment plan is especially important for you.
Anti-LGBTQ Stigma and Mental Health
The stress of existing as a member of the LGBTQ community can be a contributing factor to poorer health outcomes over time, in the forms of both psychological and physical stressors. You may find yourself coping with multiple microaggressions each day in mass media and interpersonal interactions. Constantly absorbing attacks on your identity and self-esteem is an emotionally exhausting task that cumulatively builds over time and is a common burden among members of the LGBTQ community (many of whom suffer from depression and anxiety as a result of this stigma). For some members of the LGBTQ community, this stigma results in direct acts of violence, such as physical assault, sexual assault, or being rejected from home or family support.
As a result of these acts of discrimination, many LGBTQ people report struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues at some point in their lives. There is a vicious cycle of emotional distress, substance abuse, and societal discrimination in the lives of many LGBTQ people; you or a loved one may have found yourself in the midst of this cycle before or currently. We encourage you to seek help as soon as possible, as this cycle is fatal for many people in the LGBTQ community. For LGBTQ people, especially those who also identify as people of color, this cycle includes higher rates of:
- tobacco use
- “hard” drug use
- dangerous drinking
Transgender-Specific Care Matters
As a transgender person, you may experience gender dysphoria – emotional distress in regards to your gender identity – and feel the need to cope with this distress as well. Working with an explicitly LGBTQ-oriented care team and treatment program accounts for the specific stressors present in a transgender person’s life, and helps provide specific healthy strategies that you can implement. Without ensuring that your treatment program is LGBTQ-oriented, you run the risk of being subjected to more discrimination and microaggressions from a team that is supposed to help you achieve a better quality of life. Even if the program or care team is not explicitly violent or offensive, their strategies may not be tailored to diverse clientele and may not work for you. Selecting the right program for your needs often means selecting a team of professionals who are sensitive to your situation and who you feel comfortable being your honest, authentic self with.
If you find that you participate in dangerous behaviors such as excessive drinking or drug use to cope, you are not alone. There are health professionals and support networks who are dedicated to providing members of the LGBTQ community with sensitive, holistic care – many of whom are members of the LGBTQ community themselves. If the care facility does not make it clear that they have LGBTQ-specific programs, it is your right and responsibility to ask during a tour or interview prior to admittance. The best programs are out and proud of their commitment to providing the best care possible for transgender people!
We believe in the diversity of the multifaceted LGBTQ community, and that this diversity is what makes it so beautiful and vibrant. Transgender people deserve the utmost love and respect, especially in spaces dedicated to healing and recovery. When seeking out treatment for yourself or a loved one who identifies as transgender, seek out treatment programs that love and respect transgender people as much as you do and explicitly incorporate their identity into their care plan. Doing so creates the best possible opportunity for a safe recovery and a healthy life after treatment. Call us today at 772-266-5320.