Dear SCS Friends,
Fall is around the corner as we move into September – a season that represents abundance, prosperity, and wealth; September is also the annual National Recovery Month. Now in its 32nd year, Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as we celebrate improvements made by those who are living with and managing other health conditions. Each September, Recovery Month works to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible.
The theme of Recover Month this year is: “RECOVERY IS FOR EVERYONE: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.” Recovery IS for everyone and that includes the LGBTQIA community!
Data from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) suggests that substance use patterns reported by LGBTQIA individuals are higher compared to those reported by heterosexual adults. More than a third (37.6 percent) of sexual minority adults 18 and older reported marijuana use in the last year, compared to 16.2% reported by the overall adult population. Opioid use in the past year (including misuse of prescription opioids or heroin use) was also higher with 9% of sexual minority adults aged 18 or older reporting use compared to 3.8% among the overall adult population. Additionally, 9% of sexual minority adults aged 26 or older reported misuse of prescription opioids within the last year.
Requirements for social-distancing and mandated lockdowns have disproportionately increased alcohol and substance use in the LGBTQIA community. According to Workit Health, in addition to other health risks and a lack of access to resources, LGBTQIA+ individuals also face a higher risk of co-occurring mental health disorders. These include self-harm, suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety, among others. It is estimated that 30 percent of LGBTQIA individuals suffer from some form of addiction, compared to 9 percent of the general population (Recovery Research Institute). Those who identify as LGBQIA often face several stressors, like stigma, discrimination, and a greater risk of violence. These can lead to an increased risk of substance use and behavioral health issues. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons have been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and suicide.
In response to LGBTQIA’s community needs, Seattle Counseling Service (SCS) provides both mental health and substance abuse treatment services. Recovery can seem like an impossible goal. It is a process that require time, commitment, motivation, and support. Our focus on recovery includes partnering with clients and meeting them where they are on their recovery journey. SCS offers individual and couples mental health treatment, substance abuse disorder individual treatment and groups as well peer services. SCS also provides programs such as Project NEON (Needle and Sex Education Outreach Network); it is an HIV-prevention program for LGBTQIA individuals who are affected by crystal methamphetamine. SCS also has the Hepatitis AIDS Substance Abuse Program (HASAP); it is a compassionate harm-reduction and outreach program aimed to serve community members living with hepatitis and AIDS or are at high-risk for the two.
Recovery is a lifelong process where individuals will need ongoing care to maintain overall wellness – just as we need continued preventative care for our dental health and overall health, those in recovery need access to continued support and services. Inherent to a recovery-oriented system of care are values and approaches consistent with the LGBTQIA communities we serve, where services are provided by counselors and peer specialists. Progressively, SCS aspires to enhance our culturally-competent, recovery-oriented model to move beyond the clinical skills of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of individuals to encompass the skills of personal/family reconstruction, as well as community development and building. This feature is key in responding to the extreme isolation experienced by those living with mental health challenges and facing substance use disorder and recovery.
In alignment with this year’s National Recovery Month theme, we at SCS know that recovery IS for everyone. For more than 50 years, SCS has served and supported the LGBTQIA community, and we will continue to do so through our SUD Programs, mental health services, and by creating partnerships with community organizations, partners, and individuals who need to access specialized LGBTQIA culturally-competent recovery support and treatment services. We are here for you!
Join us in this work! By signing up to donate $25 a month, you can help SCS provide support services to LGBTQIA community.