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Focusing on LGBTQIA+ People for the Recovery Community



Earlier this week VOCAL, a peer advocacy group, hosted their “Creating Safer Spaces” training. This event series is meant to educate people who work in behavioral health services on best practices in creating affirming space for the LGBTQIA+ community who might use their programs.

At SAARA, we focus on ending the stigma surrounding addiction and ensuring recovery is accessible to everyone. Through advocacy, education, and support, SAARA aims to target the most at-risk communities to combat substance use disorder (SUD). In fact, according to a SAMHSA survey, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have higher rates of substance misuse and addiction than straight or cisgender people. Focusing on the LGBTQIA+ community is essential to our mission.

The LGBTQIA+ community is more susceptible to SUD and faces additional barriers to seeking and maintaining recovery:

  • Experience trauma at higher levels

  • Increased rates of homelessness

  • Higher risk of a co-occurring mental illness

  • Lack of access to adequate health care

Research has shown that one-size-fits-all recovery programs are not the most effective treatment options for the LGBTQIA+ community. Training and resources explicitly designed with this community in mind that consider the additional barriers and stressors they face have proven to be overwhelmingly more successful in long-term recovery. Unfortunately, accessible recovery housing and compassionate care are often harder for LGBTQIA+ people to find.

Fortunately, a new recovery house in Richmond has done just that. Peter’s Place RVA is the first recovery house that provides support, resources, and housing, specifically for LGBTQIA+ people seeking recovery. You can support Peter’s Place here.

Widespread adoption of intentional inclusivity in the recovery community is imperative. Peers need to be prepared to support members of the LGBTQIA+ community. This can be done through education, outreach, and a reassessment of current practices. One simple change suggested in the VOCAL training is that peers could create opportunities for members to share their pronouns. Using gender-affirming language in support groups, training, and other events are essential in setting individuals up for success in recovery.

For more information on future “Creating Safer Spaces” training, please contact VOCAL.