LGBT Guide for Drug & Alcohol Rehab

gay drug alcohol rehab

Gay Rehab Center Tips for Substance Abuse

Are you searching for a gay friendly rehab center for drugs or alcohol? If so, you wouldn’t be alone. While the numbers are somewhat scattered, current estimates suggest that over 23 million Americans receive some type of treatment for a substance related problem.

In the LGBT community, research suggests that substance abuse and dependence occur at a higher rate than the general population.

For example, the Pride Institute in Minneapolis, a leading LGBT treatment facility, suggests that up to 45% of the gay community abuses alcohol.

The reasons for these high rates are multi-factorial in nature. According to the research, some of what’s driving these numbers include:

  • Use of substances to cope with depression and anxiety.
  • Lack of social support systems
  • Feelings of loneliness and rejection
  • Socialization norms within the gay community.

substance abuse vs. addiction

Do I Need a Gay Rehab Center?

This article has been created to help you make smart decisions when choosing one of the many gay drug or alcohol rehab centers in the United States.

While we won’t specifically recommend a given facility in this article, we will offer tips for making the best decision for yourself or someone you love.

Before continuing, you may be wondering if you need a gay rehab center at all? Well, the answer to that question largely depends upon knowing the difference between the following three constructs:

  • Substance use
  • Substance abuse
  • Substance addiction (dependence)

Let’s quickly examine the differences between the three. Examples have been provided to help your understanding.

Substance Use

Most people will use a substance at some point in their lives. For example, if you have ever smoked grass or had a glass of wine, you have technically “used” a substance. This, however, does not mean you have “a problem”.

Substance use merely means a person uses a particular substance, often recreationally.

Example: Once or twice a month, James has a glass of wine when going out to dinner with friends. He doesn’t really use alcohol otherwise.

Substance Abuse

In short, substance abuse occurs when drugs or alcohol are used in such a way that can expose you to various social, occupational, financial, legal or medical problems. When someone is thought to have a substance abuse problem, they usually are taking that substance as a means of coping.

The primary way you know that you have a substance abuse issue is by looking at the consequences of your behaviors.

Example: Mark regularly downs two glasses of Vodka before heading out to the bars on weekends. He does this because he feels he needs the liquid courage to emotionally lubricate before meeting people.

One evening on the way to a nightclub, Mark is pulled over by the police on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. He fails his breathalyzer test and as a result, his driver’s license is suspended.

In this example, you can see that Mark’s need to socially lubricate before heading to the bars carried a hefty consequence. Not only did he lose his driver’s license, he now doesn’t have the ability to drive himself to work. This new reality has the unintended consequence of putting his job in jeopardy.

Whenever a person begins to experience escalating negative consequences for continued use of alcohol or drugs, they are thought to have a substance abuse problem.

Many celebrities have gone to rehab for substance abuse issues, including Jesse Metcalfe .


When a person has an addiction in the clinical sense, it means they have become psychologically and physically dependent upon a substance.

A key indicator that an addiction is at play is when you are occupied with an obtaining and using a substance. Additionally, addiction also means continuing to use a substance in spite of knowing about the growing negative consequences.

Example: Dylan smokes crystal meth from a pipe each morning before starting his day. Last week, he lost his job because of his inability to concentrate at work. He is also on the verge of becoming homeless because his boyfriend is ready to throw him out. He has no savings and no place to go.

Clearly, Dylan has reached a point in his drug taking behaviors where his body has become dependent upon the substance (meth) in order to function. What’s more, the negative consequences of his continued use have cost him his job and potentially, his boyfriend.

Understanding that he has a serious methamphetamine problem, Dylan begins searching for a gay drug rehab center.

Gay Rehab Centers - 7 Tips for Choosing
Gay Rehab Centers – 7 Tips for Choosing

Tips for Gay Drug Rehab Center

If you have reached a place where you believe you should check yourself (or someone you love) into a gay drug rehab center because of substance abuse or addiction, you are making one of the smartest decisions of your life.

What follows are 7 tips for choosing a gay rehab center that you should think about before signing the dotted line. Some of these suggestions will be obvious while others may cause you to pause and reflect. Read them all so that you can make the healthiest decision possible.

1. Make Sure They Have a LGBT Specialty

You may be wondering if it really matters or not if the rehab facility works with the LGBT population. After all, addiction is addiction, right?

The hard truth is that choosing to go to a LGBT focused program does matter and it matters a lot. That’s because many of the reasons that drive substance abuse and dependence are culturally related.

The last thing you want to do is check into a program that has no clue about what it means to be gay or any of the associated challenges that are a part of “gay life”.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you start to look around. It’s OK to ask the facility if they have gay therapists on staff or at the very least, LGBT friendly counselors.

2. Check Your Expectations

Many people check into a respective gay rehab program for drug and alcohol use under the belief that they will be “cured” after they get out.

If only this were true.

Substance abuse programs can help you to “get clean” and remain sober but it will be on you to remain substance-free after you are discharged.

For many, this means ongoing counseling with a drug/alcohol therapist and involvement in programs known as IOPs or Intensive Outpatient Programs.

Remember, if you have an addiction, you are never really cured. Instead, you are choosing to live a life of sobriety. This is why many people on the recovery community attend 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Having a qualified, competent and helpful 12-step sponsor is part of the process.

3. Is the Program Short or Long Term?

Many drug and alcohol rehab programs are 28-days in length. This is considered long term. But because of today’s insurance limitations with many health care policies, stays are often much shorter.

It is not uncommon for some drug and alcohol recovery houses to offer 14-18 days of treatment (short term) for this reason. If the program you are considering is “short”, make sure you ask if they offer some type of after care that includes IOP or other supportive services. This leads us to the next point.

4. Verify Options with Your Insurance

The uncomfortable truth about most treatment facilities for substance abuse and dependence is simply this – they aren’t cheap. And to complicate matters, insurance companies don’t always cover the cost of your stay.

This is why it is imperative that you contact your insurance company to find out what substance abuse treatment options may be available with your plan.

Make sure to ask if you are required to pay a deductible. If so, find what will be covered after the deductible has been met.

Some insurance companies require plan participants to receive treatment from specific facilities. Again, it is vital that you verify benefits for signing any paperwork. Don’t hook yourself into thousands of dollars in debt when you can avoid this by taking the time to make inquiries.

5. Find Out Their Treatment Philosophy

If you identify as LGBT, you will want to know the treatment philosophy of the facility you are considering. Believe it or not, some programs are religious based. This goes back to the importance of point #1.

If the rehab center you are looking at suggests that it helps patients reach sobriety through religious means, you may want to look elsewhere for treatment. In many cases, these types of places are not very welcoming to LGBT persons.

FYI: The drug and alcohol treatment industry is 35-billion-dollar industry. Some places will say or do anything just to grab their slice of financial cake. The problem is that once you sign the paperwork, they’ve got you and your money.

Look for a place that treats the whole person and does not subscribe to specific religious doctrine or spiritual belief. The last thing you need is to feel judged for being gay while you are in treatment.

6. Do You Know Their Specialties?

Some gay drug rehab centers are known for specializing in the treatment of certain substances/behaviors. As an example, if you are struggling with a crystal meth addiction that contains a behavioral component (sex addiction), you will want to seek out a facility that has lots of experience with these issues.

Bear in mind that just because a place claims to have strong success in treating a particular addiction doesn’t mean it’s true. This is why looking at online reviews from around the web about a given organization can be extremely helpful.

7. Get Sober for You and Nobody Else

If you are considering a gay rehab program, make sure your desire to become clean is for you and for you only. If you are only doing it to save your relationship or make someone else happy, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Tough words to read perhaps but they also happen to be true. This has to be 100% about you.