• June 2022 •
From Juan Navarro, Executive Director
Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Executive Director’s Message: PRIDE at L.A. CADA
Pride Month in June marks the 1969 Stonewall Uprising where patrons and allies of New York City’s Stonewall Inn stood up in opposition to police harassment and discrimination against people who were Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or otherwise gender non-conforming (LGBTQ+). It began a long process for needed change that is still evolving, including behavioral healthcare equity.
The Center for American Progress estimates that 20-30% of LGBTQ+ adults have substance use problems, as compared to 09% of the general population. Because addiction disproportionately affects the LGBTQ+ community, at Pride Month at L.A. CADA is a time to contemplate the barriers to recovery faced by one of our most vulnerable service groups.
The prevalence of addiction among LGBTQ+ people can best be understood within the framework of minority stress. From a young age, people who are LGBTQ+ live with daily discrimination, and marginalization based on their sexual and gender minority status. Consequently, they face greater risk for traumatic harassment and violence. Non gender-conforming people of color are targets of additional discrimination, racism, and cultural stigma. All of these factors increase the risk for drug and alcohol use disorders, as well as mental health issues.
Many sexual minority people use substances to self-medicate stress, anxiety, or depression. Substance use is also widely used to socialize and celebrate – especially at Pride parties and festivals. In fact, liquor companies love to co-opt PRIDE to sell their rainbow-labeled products. In general, our society tends to paint Pride as mostly about the party, and that’s just not the reality. June is a necessary time to celebrate who you are, the history of the LGBTQ+ community, and your role as a strong, healthy, and productive member.
L.A. CADA wishes you a happy, healthy PRIDE Month 2022! If you’re clean and sober, L.A. CADA urges you to think about ways to celebrate PRIDE without alcohol and drugs:
- Attend a meeting: peer support from LGBTQ+ people in recovery is the best way to start or finish any day.
- Participate in some Pride month events, but not those that may trigger you: Make a plan to maintain your boundaries. If you’re facing triggers, have an exit strategy – go somewhere that you feel safer.
- Host a Sober Pride event: For example, introduce your signature “mocktail” at a sober party or have a competition to judge the best recipe.
- Join an LGBTQ+ Recovery Community: Check out: Queers Without Beers
See how some people Celebrate Sober PRIDE
“Let me tell you that it’s very hard to go into recovery when you’re trans. People like me have lived in that closet for so long, we have been vilified. Now that we can really come out and celebrate for the festivals and parades, you want to do it. With booze, pot, and all the other goodies. PRIDE was my time to let loose and escape my everyday problems. Especially the parties, because the atmosphere is so liberating with everyone being LGBT or an ally – we are all united having so much fun. But after a little problem, I went to jail three years ago. Then I got into treatment to be clean and sober. No parties for me. I couldn’t because I knew I would relapse, right? But at L.A. CADA, I found my tribe. Clean. Sober. And PROUD. In treatment, everyone in the program is LGBT. Last year, we celebrated clean and sober and it actually was really fun. I can celebrate my identity and the LGBT community, and the bonus was being able to support other people new in recovery at the same time. I really had to laugh, Me a “role model”? Who would have thought?”
SPOTLIGHT – THE EVIDENCE IS IN:
LGBTQ+ Patient Best Practices
Successful addiction treatment and recovery strategies for LGBTQ+ people must address a variety of intra- and interpersonal factors affecting this underserved community, including coping skills, consequences of substance use, clients’ practical needs, social support, spiritual beliefs, and engagement in mutual self-help organizations.
Clinical psychologist John Pachankis, an Associate Professor in the Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, sets forth several principles for standard practice when addressing the unique treatment needs of LGBTQ individuals, including the following:
- Normalizing the adverse impact of minority stress to help LGBTQ individuals understand the role of stigma-based stress, as opposed to personal failings in behavioral health.
- Helping LGBTQ patients confront painful minority stressors in a safe environment to reduce “maladaptive forms of cognitive, affective, and behavioral avoidance” and its negative impact on health.
- Empowering assertive communication by teaching LGBTQ individuals that they deserve the same rights and opportunities as others.
- Using cognitive therapy exercises to reduce the impact of minority stress-driven cognitive biases – restructure minority stress cognition to validate the wants, needs, and emotions of LGBTQ individuals to stop internalizing rejection and/or expecting it.
- Validate LGBTQ individuals by understanding and appreciating their unique strengths and experiences .
- Working with LGBTQ patients to develop social support systems comprising family, friends, and communities as a defense against minority stress.
Watch: Taking PRIDE in Recovery