A Guide to LGBTQIAPK Addiction Treatment

3 min read · 4 sections
As understandings of human sexuality and gender identity have grown, so too has the knowledge of substance use and mental health disorders facing gay, transgender, and alternative communities. This guide to LGBTQIAPK addiction treatment explains the intersection of drug and alcohol misuse as well as the kaleidoscope of sexual and gender expression.

Your Guide to LGBTQIAPK Addiction Treatment

The Growth of LGBTQ+ Identity

The abbreviation LGBTQIAPK stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit, asexual, and ally.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the term “gay” itself came from the underground slang used to refer to both male and female homosexuals. As time went on, lesbians objected to the word “gay” because it was used almost exclusively to refer to male homosexuals. During the feminist movement of the 1960s, the term “lesbian” was adopted to differentiate female homosexuals from the popular understanding of gay being used to talk about men and to draw more attention to the issues facing women in the same-sex community. By the 1970s, the terms “gay” and “lesbian” came to refer to all same-sex people.1

For decades, bisexual and transgender individuals fought being referred to as “gay” or “lesbian,” primarily because bisexual people were neither gay nor lesbian, and “transgender” is a definition of gender identity, not sexual orientation. In the early 2000s, organizations that welcomed and advocated same-sex people changed their terminologies to the inclusive GLBT community.2

In the years that followed, the abbreviation was changed again to LGBT to give lesbians more visibility in a rapidly growing movement. The constant evolution is a sign that people will always need new terms to define their human sexuality and gender identities.

What Does LGBTQIAPK Mean?

For this guide, LGBTQIAPK refers to:

  • Lesbian: Women who have emotional and/or sexual attraction to other women.
  • Gay: Men who have emotional and/or sexual attraction to other men.
  • Bisexual: A person who is emotionally and/or sexually attracted to both men and women
  • Transgender: A person whose personal and gender identity does not correspond to the gender they were assigned at birth.
  • Queer or questioning: The term “queer” has been traditionally used as a slur against same-sex people, but some have reclaimed the term as an issue of pride; others prefer the Q to mean “questioning,” people who are unsure of their sexual orientation and/or their gender identity, and who are in the process of exploring and discerning their respective sexuality/identity.
  • Intersex: A person born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit the typical understanding of a particular gender. (Their physical, hormonal, and even chromosomal characteristics are neither all male, nor all female.)
  • Asexual: A person who does not feel sexual attraction toward people of any gender, though emotional attraction is still possible.
  • Pansexual: A person who feels attraction without regard to gender identity.
  • Kink: From the term “kinky,” “kink” is used for those who find comfort in expressing their sexuality in alternative and countercultural ways.

Many other abbreviations exist, a testament to the ever-growing expansion of the complete canvas of how human beings identify and express their sexuality.3

LGBTQIAPK Substance Use and Addiction Statistics

The LGBTQIAPK community has made remarkable strides over the last few decades, but the stress and discrimination that individuals, who identify as part of the LGBTQIAPK community, face remains high. The Center for American Progress found that upwards of 43% of LGBTQIAPK individuals have been the victim of workplace discrimination, and as many as 90% of transgender members of the American workforce say they have been harassed and mistreated at work.4

This has led to remarkably high rates of substance misuse in the larger LGBTQIAPK community. Unfortunately, many private and state healthcare systems do not have the resources or training to address LGBTQIAPK-specific challenges or concerns, which serves as a barrier to treatment for many. In some cases, LGBTQIAPK patients experience hostility and prejudice at healthcare facilities, which further compounds the stress that may have contributed to their substance misuse in the first place.

One study that examined data from the 2015-2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that gay and bisexual men and women experienced past year alcohol use disorder or substance use disorders at higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts in all age groups 18-49, suggesting a need for treatment that addresses the unique experiences of sexual minorities.5

LGBTQIAPK Addiction Treatment

It’s crucial that members of the LGBTQIAPK community find the best addiction treatment to suit all of their specific needs. Some healthcare professionals lack the necessary training and education to treat the medical and psychological issues unique to members of the LGBTQIAPK community. An addiction treatment program for LGBTQIAPK individuals must consider the unique issues that each of the individuals in this diverse community may face.

For example, research suggests that transgender individuals may be left out of treatment programs and services or grouped with other sexual minority groups, and thus, do not receive specialized care that specifically addresses their needs and concerns. One study found that transgender people, who were on the receiving end of social rejection and violence, often left addiction treatment early due to conflicts and feelings of isolation.6

On the other hand, studies indicate that members of the LGBTQIAPK community seek treatment at a significantly higher rate than their heterosexual counterparts.7

A specialized addiction treatment program for LGBTQIAPK individuals must make patients feel safe and comfortable. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) providers that offer these specialized addiction treatment programs for LGBTQIAPK individuals must address the issues unique to LGBTQIAPK patients.7

If you or someone you love, who identifies as a member of the LGBTQIAPK community struggles with substance misuse or addiction, reach out to American Addiction Centers (AAC) at . We have a number of facilities nationwide offering specialized LGBTQIAPK programs to address the unique set of challenges these individuals face in recovery. Specific topics covered include healthy relationships, family dynamics, coming out, stigmas and stereotypes, and transgender issues, among others.

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