Love is love. There is nothing unique about the love an LGBTQIA+ couple feels for one another. However, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), LGBTQIA+ individuals struggle with rates of addiction higher than the national average and the LGBTQIA+ communities experience distinct health disparities and inequities in health outcomes.
Social stigma may contribute to these high rates of substance misuse and addiction. This blog post will explore ways to support an LGBTQIA+ partner in rehab. It will elucidate the importance of choosing an affirming environment for members of the LGBTQIA+ community when selecting a rehab facility. With multiple case managers who are LGBTQIA+ themselves, Lantana Recovery offers a variety of programs that provide this affirming environment.
Education About Addiction
The first step to supporting an LGBTQIA+ partner in the throes of addiction is to educate yourself about the disease. Addiction is a serious illness that does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or anything else. For instance, some LGBTQIA+ people, after coming out, experience marginalization and homelessness due to rejection and discrimination from their family and community.
Educate yourself on what it means to be addicted to substances and how this insidious illness affects every facet of life. Next, examine what rehab is and specifics about the withdrawal and detox process, therapy, and what it means to live a sober life.
Stay in Touch
Let your partner know you are there for them by staying in touch with them while they are in rehab. Many rehabs do not allow for the use of electronic devices. However, you can stay in touch over the landline phone they’re allowed to use, and be sure to attend visiting hours. It will be natural for your partner to wonder about the state of your relationship while in rehab. Reassure them that you’re there for the long haul by making every effort to reach out when you can.
Take Care of Yourself
Be sure to look after yourself during this process. You likely have strong emotions surrounding the experience of being in a relationship with someone who is addicted to substances. As a result, you may struggle with a lack of trust, fear for your partner’s safety, or depression over your partner’s condition. Be sure to practice self-care during your partner’s stay in rehab.
Reach Out to Support
You may consider reaching out to your own network for support. There are many LGBTQIA+ community centers across the country that provide a safe environment to discuss these issues. Rely on friends or family to provide counsel and advice. Don’t isolate; your partner needs time to work on themselves and may not be able to fulfill key roles in the relationship.
Are you out to your friends and family?
A partner going to rehab is difficult, but it’s doubly difficult if you’re not “out” about your sexuality. The stress of this secret can contribute to the intensity of addiction.
Know that our society is becoming more accepting of LGBTQIA+ individuals. The recent bipartisan passage of the Respect for Marriage Act is evidence of this.
Internalized and externalized homophobia are very real phenomena that contribute to higher rates of substance abuse in the LGBTQIA+ community. Don’t allow the perceived stigma of being who you are to hijack your life. You are worthy of love and acceptance by all.
Participate in Family Therapy
“Alcohol and drug abuse and dependence are prevalent problems in the U.S. and major public health concerns that affect individuals, families, and communities” (Substance Use in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Populations: An Update on Empirical Research and Implications for Treatment, Gren & Feinstein, 2013 .) Your partner’s rehab facility will likely offer family therapy. Take advantage of it as an opportunity to deepen your relationship with your partner. Be willing to go “all in” during therapy, and leave nothing on the table. Family therapy is your opportunity to discuss deep-seated relational issues that strike at the heart of who you two are as people.
Take this chance to make your relationship even better than it was before by exploring the deepest, darkest depths of your relationship. This is an opportunity you likely would not have had if your partner had not chosen to go to rehab. Take advantage of it, and make the most of your chance to get professional guidance on your relationship’s trajectory.
If allowed at the rehab facility, take walks in nature with your partner. Use these walks as an opportunity to talk and reflect on the life you want when your partner emerges from treatment. The walks can also be a great way to decompress with your partner about the challenges your relationship faces and about the challenges of addiction itself.
Rehab can be a great time to reflect on what you both want out of life. It is a pause and can mark the beginning of an entirely new kind of life together. Use walks to build a deeper, more open relationship with your partner. You may find that rehab is actually beneficial to the state of your relationship.
Codependency can be a common trait among couples, where one partner puts the well-being of the other before their own. It’s important that you and your partner avoid creating a codependent relationship, which can act as its own high in lieu of substance abuse or dependence.
In a codependent relationship, a dependent partner who is addicted to substances is at high risk of relapse if the relationship crumbles. To avoid a codependent relationship, be sure to have proper space between you and your partner. Set boundaries to ensure you both have the opportunity to develop as independent people in the context of your relationship.
Lantana Recovery understands that LGBTQIA+ individuals have love with unique needs. That’s why Lantana Recovery provides a supportive and affirming environment for members of the LBGTQIA+ community. If you are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and your partner is headed to rehab, be sure to learn about your partner’s condition so you can understand how to support them effectively. Be sure to stay in touch with them while in rehab. Rehab can be a great opportunity to revitalize the relationship through family therapy and an overall reexamination of your life’s circumstances.