Event to showcase need for LGBTQ+ spaces in substance use recovery programs
Authored by Ken Redmile
Recovery Centers of America is hosting an event in Danvers June 15 to knock down the stigma around substance abuse within the LGBTQ+ community.
From 2 to 4 p.m. at RCA’s 75 Lindall St. facility, guest speakers will discuss the importance of specialized mental health and substance use programming for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Tara Rivera is a treatment advocate at RCA in Danvers and one of the event’s coordinators. She said this type of programming is especially important, since these individuals already face discrimination because of their gender or sexual orientation.
“We pick up substances to begin with because we are either uncomfortable in our own skin or we don’t know how to deal with feelings or emotions, etc.,” Rivera said. “That community can be so much more impacted because they’re not only struggling with just fitting in… they’re feeling guilty or they’re struggling with their family not accepting them or a whole range of negative emotions surrounding their sexuality.”
As a result, LGBTQ+ individuals are two times more likely to struggle with substance use disorders than those who are not a part of that community, Rivera said.
Most recovery facilities in America also do not offer specialized programs for LGBTQ+ individuals, even though they are a vital part of the road to recovery, said Jill Robinson, a recovery counselor at RCA in Danvers.
“I am a Lesbian woman,” Robinson said. “I didn’t know I needed some sort of specialized treatment, or just even the acknowledgement of my identity as a Gay woman in treatment until I received it. It wasn’t something I was looking for or thought to ask about because I have never been offered it before.”
Next week’s event falls on the two-year anniversary of Robinson’s recovery. Along with several other members of the LGBTQ+ community who are in recovery, she will speak about her own experiences at RCA during the event.
“It’s a full circle moment for me,” Robinson said.
RCA’s THRIVE program offers services and groups that are specialized for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.
Robinson was a part of the program while she was in recovery, and will now help facilitate it as an employee.
“As somebody who is part of this community, that loves people in the community, or just wants to know more about it — and have conversations that may be difficult — you may be less apt to share in a group with cisgender straight people because you’re afraid of judgment, ridicule or just don’t feel comfortable,” Robinson said.
She encouraged people from all walks of life to come to RCA’s event.
“It will help highlight some of the discrepancies in the treatment of this population, and so we can advocate for more structured specialized treatment for them,” Robinson said.
“Event to showcase need for LGBTQ+ spaces in substance use recovery programs”, salemnews.com, by Caroline Enos, https://www.salemnews.com/news/event-to-showcase-need-for-lgbtq-spaces-in-substance-use-recovery-programs/article_fa672570-e76e-11ec-99f0-1beafa363523.html