Inclusivity in Addiction Treatment

Inclusivity in Addiction Treatment

 Addiction, unlike people, does not discriminate. It affects people from all walks of life. Rich and poor, black or white, people of faith and secular alike. Addiction affects us all like a cancer of the spirit, robbing people of their families, careers, social standing, and of their very lives. We cannot afford to heap more obstacles onto the victims of this disease by administering only to a select group of people who fit a societal standard. If addiction does not discriminate, recovery must not be allowed either. 

What is Inclusivity?

Inclusivity is defined as the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. This can include those having physical or mental disabilities or belonging to other minority groups.” 

Ask anybody in recovery. If they’ve suffered from the disease of addiction, they will know how insurmountable the task of merely quitting drugs or alcohol can be. By putting an already vulnerable person in an environment where they feel unsafe, unseen, or not accepted could end up being a death sentence. In the fight for our lives, our humanity must be acknowledged. 

The Numbers Don’t Lie

In 2019 the National Survey on Drug Use and Health released a study confirming that 19.3 million Americans 18 years or older suffered from a substance use disorder. Perusing the numbers further we see that 18.3% of LGB individuals experience a substance use disorder and roughly 2.6 million LGB people who struggled with a substance use disorder, it is estimated 1.9 million also concurrently suffered from a mental illness or mental health disorder. These are harrowing numbers that point to a serious problem within the LGBTQ community. 

Why The Disparity?

Why are people in the LGBTQ community so disproportionately affected? To answer that question, we need to look at the roots of the issue of addiction. We have already established that addiction doesn’t discriminate. Everyone is at risk. Even people who come from loving families and feel safe in their own skin fall victim to this voracious and brutal affliction.  Genetics are a deciding factor in many cases of addiction with experts in the field acknowledging that addiction “runs in the family,” but the issue at hand is more nuanced. 

Nurture Vs. Nature 

Environmental factors are at play. Despite much of the forward progress we’ve made in this country on the frontiers of acceptance and tolerance, the LGBTQ people of this country are still very much in danger of facing discrimination and intolerance today. The stigma of their sexual preference is a stressor with subtle and far-reaching psychological implications. Fear of ostracization, hate, and violence is a fact of life for many. These stressors create the perfect conditions necessary for a blossoming addiction to substances that allow the user to self-medicate, choosing to escape the pressure and pain of being born different in an often unforgiving society.  Who can blame them? 

Acceptance And Physiology

Humans are tribal creatures. It’s hardwired into our genetic memory to stick together for survival. As a species, we needed to stick together to survive the harsh conditions of prehistoric Earth. Before we had drywall and down jackets, we had fires whereby we traded stories, songs, and the dreams of our people. So, it’s no surprise that we retain much of the inherited predisposition to human connection that was the cornerstone of our evolution. 

When we are accepted, a cascade of physiological health benefits ensues. We release healthy levels of hormones that regulate our sleep patterns, heart rate, digestion, and overall well-being, whereas individuals who are not accepted by a community experience the opposite. An irregular oxytocin response caused by social ostracization or bullying has been shown to contribute to various mental illnesses including anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and schizophrenia. 

Inclusivity Is Vital

With all its technological advances and modern adaptations, our lives today are easier to navigate. Our survival is bolstered by our achievements in science and medicine, but now more than ever there is a sharp decline in the state of our mental health as a species. We are increasingly isolated as our physical survival depends less and less upon cooperation with others, allowing us to go it alone, connecting more through electronic devices than face to face. The days of fireside storytelling have given way to meme culture. Suicide and addiction rates have skyrocketed along with our propensity for cyberbullying. 

Now more than ever the necessity for inclusivity is apparent. The science of our neurology points to it. Our ancestry calls for it. We struggle not against the icy winds of prehistoric earth, not against the saber tooth tiger, but a much more nuanced and subtle foe. Addiction preys on all of us. It is ruthless in its destruction of human life. To exclude someone from our Family of Recovery is to deny them a place by our fire to share in the dream of goodwill toward all of mankind. 

Oasis Recovery is proudly committed to that dream. We are North Carolina’s #1 rehab and we are proud to offer our services to all people.


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