Addiction is a chronic condition that does not discriminate. It affects people of all ages, genders, sexual orientation, races, social classes, educational backgrounds and family structures. Addiction can affect us all, but according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, risk factors for addiction exist on an individual level as well as an interpersonal relationship, community and societal level.
Culturally appropriate and population-specific addiction treatment takes into account the various factors affecting a group of people. When addiction treatment is specific to an individual’s experience it is much more likely that individuals in the program will experience positive outcomes. When treatment methods are grounded in appropriate and culturally-sensitive approaches that provide a supportive recovery community, it can provide the best possible opportunity to heal.
For example, women are exposed more often to certain types of trauma that can fuel drug abuse. Essential components of treatment can include focused support for working through issues of trauma, violence, child abuse, spousal violence, other forms of trauma, as well as intense pain. Many women feel more comfortable in a treatment setting where treatment is tailored to their unique needs and they can share sensitive feelings and experiences.
The LGBQ+ community suffers from higher rates of substance abuse than the population as a whole. This is due in part to a number of societally imposed obstacles that they face, often on a daily basis. According to the CDC, substance abuse among LGBTQ+ individuals may be a reaction to homophobia, discriminations, or violence they have experienced.
Dealing with substance abuse, alcoholism, or drug addiction is never easy, and it’s even more difficult when you’re also struggling with mental health problems. In co-occurring disorders, both the mental health issue and the drug or alcohol addiction have their own unique symptoms, and to make the situation more complicated, the co-occurring disorders also affect each other. When a mental health problem goes untreated, the substance abuse problem usually gets worse. And, when alcohol or drug abuse increases, mental health problems usually increase, too.
This conference will discuss special populations in addiction – including women, the LGBTQ+ community, and individuals with mental health problems – and the importance of identifying their unique treatment needs.