Gay Alcohol Rehab

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Substance abuse is prominent among the LGBTQ community [1]. One of the reasons is because substance abuse presents a means of escape.

Members of the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ experience issues such as stigma, family rejection, and discrimination. 

There's extensive research that confirms the prevalence of substance abuse among the LGBTQ+ community [2].

A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2019 also reported treatment gaps as most LGBTQ+ members struggling with mental health issues and substance use disorder did not pursue treatment. 

There are gay rehab centres that address the special needs of the gay community.

These exclusive alcohol rehab centres have compassionate and professional clinicians’ staff who are focused in helping each individual succeed in recovery regardless of their sexual orientation.  

A good gay rehab facility offers: 

  1. An environment that respects its clients' diversity, sexual orientation, and personal choices. 
  2. An atmosphere that promotes honesty. Such rehab centres provide a place where people can be honest about their sexual orientation plus the challenges they've faced because of their identity. 
  3. Support from LGBTQ+ peers. Group therapy plays an integral part in rehab. A gay-friendly rehab helps their clients engage with other recovering addicts and share life experiences. Instead of feeling like they don't belong, clients feel at the core of the recovery process. 
  4. Counselling services for partners and families. A gay rehab consists of counsellors who can help clients work out their relationship challenges in a judgment-free environment. 
  5. A place for addressing mental health issues. There are multiple studies that confirm substance addiction does co-occur with mental health issues. Facilities that offer substance abuse treatment for LGBTQ+ individuals have licensed therapists to help their patients overcome the any co-occurring mental disorder.  

Historically, members of the LGBTQ+ have had challenges in getting the healthcare they need in a judgement or bias-free facility. This is also the case in substance abuse treatment.  

But in the last few decades, there has been a change in attitude and perceptions towards people who identify as LGBTQ+. This change made it easier for them to access the treatment they need. 

Gay alcoholism 

Gay alcoholism is a prevalent issue. A study by the Stonewall Organization reported that one in six people in LGBTQ+ communities drank alcohol almost every day over the last year [3]. 

The study also showed that the frequency of alcohol consumption increases with age, with a third of LGBTQ+ people aged 65+ admitting that they drank almost every day. 

The Gay community is strongly affected by alcoholism due to several reasons. They include: 

  • People who are LGBTQ+ have a history of experiencing discrimination throughout their lives-be it in personal relationships or the social space. 
  • LGBTQ members have experienced exclusion from social groups and activities 
  • Abuse from partners or family members 
  • Rejection by family members or spiritual community 
  • Public discrimination, e.g., job loss 
  • Violence based on sexual orientation or gender identification 
  • LGBTQ youths face rejection and peer ridicule 

An LGBTQ person may have experienced either one or several of these issues. In some cases, the fear of experiencing these issues could lead the person to alcohol or drug addiction. 

In another study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), researchers observed that other factors that increase the risk of substance abuse are [4]: 

  • Heredity or genetic factors 
  • Early exposure to substance use from parents or other family members 
  • Having a mental disorder that's co-occurring with substance abuse 
  • Peer pressure 
  • Coming from a background of poverty 

Biasness against the LGBTQ is one of the factors that contribute to a higher prevalence of substance abuse.

As such, any treatment that perpetuates discrimination or biasness is likely to fail at effectively treating members of this group. 

Additionally, substance addiction is deeply ingrained among guys, particularly gay men. For a long time, the one place LGBTQ people could be open about their sexuality was in gay bars.

Drinking became a means for facilitating social interactions in the community. Key historical events in the LGBTQ community, such as the Stonewall Riots, which led to the launch of the LGBTQ rights movement, is closely connected with gay bars [5]. 

There's also the concern of focused advertising by alcohol companies. Alcohol companies exploit gay and transgender individuals who flock to public drinking spaces for socialisation. 

Some companies make alcohol easily accessible, which can be dangerous for LGBTQ members going through the abovementioned issues [6]. 

Many individuals in the gay and lesbian community do not have access to the same support as their heterosexual counterparts. Many are barred from faith-based addiction treatment centres.

Unless they hide their sexuality, they may not get support in faith-based treatment options. Many LGBTQ ends up being kicked out by their families because of coming out as gay.

Some treatment programmes may be open to treatment members of LGBTQ community.

But, some of these programmes may not necessarily escape bias when it comes to some of the LGBTQ members, for instance, the transgendered individuals [7].  

Although there have been significant improvements in society over the years, the LGBTQ continue to face harassment and dissemination. Some continue to live a 'closeted' life for fear of rejection or discrimination.

Keeping their sexual identity, a secret and living a double life makes these members turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. 

Gay alcoholism could lead to other issues such as: 

  • HIV 
  • Hepatitis  

Multiple studies show that LGBTQ members involved in drug and alcohol addiction have a greater risk of becoming infected with HIV or Hepatitis.

Some of the factors leading to this are poor hygiene practices and sharing of needles.

LGBTQ+ alcohol treatment programmes 

LGBTQ alcohol and drug addiction treatment centres provide a safe and affirming environment for individuals struggling with alcohol abuse.

Some rehab centres have programmes that address the specific needs of a certain population to ensure they obtain holistic services that help them beat their addiction.  

LGBTQ rehab centres have treatment options specifically designed for members in the LGBTQ community.

For example, they can have a programme for the bisexual community, meaning that that programme is specifically designed for that group.  

Gay alcohol treatment facilities offer services such as: 

  • Group therapy sessions and 12 step meetings designed for LGBTQ 
  • Personalized, intensive counselling  
  • Treatment for co-occurring disorders like depression or bipolar  
  • Specialized aftercare services for the LGBTQ community  

The staff involved in such programmes understand the challenges and stressors that LGBTQ members face because of their sexual orientation.

Staff members get specialty training to better equip them to assist LGBTQ members. What makes such rehab centres effective is that they know the staff and the other patients will accept them.  

Understand the options for alcohol addiction help at Abbeycare, here.

LGBTQ treatment providers are equipped to help their clients cope with:  

  • Rejection  
  • Coming out  
  • Homophobia  
  • Depression  
  • Rejection from loved ones  

The programme helps LGBTQ community members learn how to handle issues that lead them to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. The programme also helps members accept their sexual orientations and gender identity.

A lack of self-acceptance can worsen the psychological difficulties such members face.  

Similar to most drug or alcohol addiction treatment programmes, treatment begins with the detoxification phase. This phase helps the individual manage the withdrawal symptoms.

Next, the individual goes through therapy. The aim of the therapy is to help them develop the coping skills they need to maintain sobriety.  

Gay individuals struggling with alcohol or substance abuse can choose between inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Outpatient treatment centres mean that the individual comes for treatment but does not reside in the facility. 

There are also inpatient treatment options in which the individual is under professional supervision 24 hours a day.

LGBTQ-specific substance use treatment programs might also vary depending on the duration of treatment and based on their ability to administer medications (to ease anxiety or stabilize mood).  

After detox and therapy comes aftercare services. The aim of this programme is to reintroduce the individual to real world situations.

Most LGBTQ rehab centres offer programmes that ensure their clients have social support and living arrangements when they leave the facility.

There are LGBTQ safe houses that act as a transition phase before releasing the individual to the real world.  

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has played a role in outlining standard of care for addiction treatment centres for the LGBT community.  

You can access their free publication titled A Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Individuals from their website [8].

The publication contains information that helps clinicians and treatment providers meet the needs of the LGBTQ community.  

You can access an LGBTQ drug rehab centre by reaching out to the LGBTQ foundation (UK) [9]. This foundation works in partnership with CGL (Change, Grow, Live) as part of the Manchester Drug and Alcohol Service (MIDAS).

You can also call the Antidote organization that offers drugs and alcohol treatment support to members of LGBTQ [9].  

LGBTQ rehab centres help LGBTQ persons overcome their addiction and other challenges in a gay-friendly treatment centre.

Such facilities have licensed therapists who ensure that LGBTQ individuals receive effective treatment that helps them achieve long term recovery.  


LGBTQ drug and alcohol rehab: Factors to Consider 

1. What treatment programmes are available? 

A rehab centre may state that they offer LGBTQ services. But it's up to you to find out exactly what treatment plan is available. 

2. What aspects of the LGBTQ community are represented? 

Some rehab centres reach out to all LGBTQ members, whereas others targeted treatment for a specific segment. For instance, you may find a drug and alcohol rehab centre that caters explicitly to bisexual women. 

3. What is the qualification of staff members? 

Some addiction and behavioural treatment facilities accept members of the LGBTQ community, but their staff is not trained.

You should ensure that the staff is accepting of your orientation and have experience in dealing with the challenges that members of the LGBT community face. 

4. Do they offer aftercare? 

You will need extra support once you complete a rehab programme. Most facilities offer aftercare services, but others will connect you to an appropriate aftercare support group. 

5. What is the success rate of the alcohol addiction treatment programme? 

Opt for a programme with a relatively high success rate. Although no one programme works for everyone, you should opt for one that has a good record of helping their clients maintain long term recovery. 

6. How much does the programme cost? 

You should contact the treatment centre to get the details of the cost upfront. There are many ways to pay for treatment. If you have medical insurance, it may cover some costs. 

LGBTQ Youth 

LGBTQ youths also have high rates of substance abuse [10]. Feelings of loneliness and isolation due to having to hide their identity may lead them to a life of drugs and alcohol.

However, the good news is that there are drug addiction treatment programmes designed to help LGBTQ youths. 

You can reach out to organizations such as Stonewall U.K. to help you find the right programme suitable for you [11]. 

You can also check out the "Be You" project, which partners with the NHS to help you find the right addiction treatment services [12]. 

Other organizations that can assist you in finding treatment centres near you are: 

  • London Friend 
  • Pink Therapy 
  • Gendered Intelligence 

You can also speak to your G.P. to know what help is available to you locally. Your G.P. can also help you decide which addiction treatment option is suitable for you. 

Alcohol rehab for women

There are alcohol rehab facilities for women. These facilities have an advantage over regular facilities. 

It can be challenging for women to talk about issues such as emotional pain or traumatic experiences that they've faced in a group with men. 

Treatment centres specifically designed for women provide a safe and comfortable setting where women in recovery can open up about their feelings and experiences. 

Some of the benefits of addiction treatment facilities for women are: 

  • A judgment-free, non-confrontational environment 
  • Sharing in a female-only group provides a sense of safety. 
  • Mutual support for members 
  • Such rehab centres provide an opportunity to address issues such as marital problems, motherhood, stigma, intimate partner abuse. 

Some of the leading substance abuse and alcohol treatment facilities specifically for women include the Abbeycare group private residential rehab [13].

Organizations like the Portofcall can help you locate the nearest addiction treatment centre for women that's nearest to you [14]. 


Regular rehab facilities lack the staff training and capacity to deal with LGBTQ issues. 

What’s more, the possibility of homophobia and biasness that may be encountered in such treatment centres makes them ineffective at handling alcohol and drug-taking among the gay population. 

In response to the prevalence of substance abuse among LGBTQ persons, rehab facilities are designed to cater to this population specifically.

Such programmes are effective as they ensure members of the LGBTQ community receive targeted treatment. 

The rehab centres offer a judgment-free environment where a person's sense of sexuality is accommodated.

If you or your loved one need treatment, then you can contact your G.P. or the U.K. rehab hotline to find the nearest treatment provider. 

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: October 31, 2023