A big part of modern drug and alcohol rehab is identifying the root causes of any given case so that it can be treated individually. So it’s no surprise that one of America’s foremost names in residential rehab, the Betty Ford Foundation, has launched a brand-new programme aimed at providing rehab services tailored specifically to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, and questioning (LGBTQ) community. The new programme is set to start in June 1 at the foundation’s Coachella Valley residential clinic.

The Betty Ford Foundation is a pioneer in drug and alcohol rehab, largely responsible for developing what is now considered the modern residential rehab environment. It decided to offer this new programme after realising that many people in the LGBT community turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with the negative pressures associated with their lifestyles.

Programme director Buster Ross sees the new rehab as an opportunity to reach a group of people who have had to struggle to find rehab help due to their sexual orientation. What’s more, having to deal with one’s self-identity issues is a big problem in addictions of all kinds. It is an even bigger problem within groups practising alternative lifestyles. The new programme is aimed at helping addicts come to terms with their identity choices so that they can learn to live a productive life without drugs and alcohol.

Surprising Research

Prior to deciding to launch the new programme, the foundation surveyed 258 of their clients scattered at clinics around the US. Among the group there were 143 were heterosexuals; the remainder all fell somewhere within the LGBTQ spectrum. The survey revealed a number of surprising things, including:

  • LGBTQ clients were twice as likely to have endured physical or sexual abuse
  • LGBTQ clients were 14% more likely to have dual diagnosis issues
  • the rates of chemical abuse among LGBTQs are significantly higher than among heterosexuals. 

The research suggested that there was a significant need for rehab recovery programmes targeted directly at the needs of LGBTQ individuals. Moreover, where there is a need, the Betty Ford Foundation is committed to meeting it. The new programme deals not only with the physical and mental aspects of substance abuse, it also helps participants deal with all of the other issues linking to sexual identity to their use of alcohol and drugs.

Changing the Culture

Ross has said a big part of the new programme is to change the culture within the LGBTQ community. He said that heavy partying is a normal part of the lifestyle due to a willingness to openly rebel against societal norms. However, the partying scene is often taken too far, which can lead to all sorts of abuse and eventual addiction. The foundation hopes to change the mindset by changing the culture.

Part of the new programme will be about identifying ways that recovering addicts can plug into their communities in a way that helps them intermingle with all kinds of people outside of their normal community. The programme will also include support groups and 12 step programmes aimed at helping individuals understand themselves as part of a greater community rather than just part of the LGBTQ community. The hope is that once they identify themselves as a part of society at large, they will find their identity in who they are as people, rather than just focusing on sexual identity.

We will have to wait and see how the foundation succeeds in this new venture. If it manages to accomplish its goals, it could set the stage for other new programmes targeted to other groups of people that struggle within the modern culture. Perhaps the lessons learned can be applied to other subcultures, including the Goth, emo, and punk communities.

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