LGBT Addiction RecoveryNew Hope Recovery Center is proud to sponsor this year's Chicago Roundup.  The 2016 Chicago Roundup is next weekend, September 9 - Sept 11, 2016 at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60613.

There is still time to REGISTER.

The Roundup is a weekend long event of LGBTQIA and allies celebrating recovery and for those interested in finding out what a life of recovery has to offer.

This year's Roundup features  thought-provoking panel discussions, engaging speakers, entertainment and fellowship opportunities to enhance spiritual, emotional and sober life,  It is the perfect opportunity to meet other recovering people from all of the world and make some wonderful new friendships in the process,

Chicago Roundup, Inc. is a volunteer-based organization for the celebration of 12-step recovery from alcohol and drug addiction within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community. It produces engaging events in a safe environment, affording participants the opportunity to have a spiritual awakening.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

New Hope Recovery Center is located in Chicago and offers individualized alcohol and drug addiction treatment in a loving supportive environment.  The New Hope with Pride Program focuses on the needs of LGBTQIA individuals.  Contact New Hope Recovery Center at 888-707- 4673 (HOPE).

Jeff Zacharias, New Hope Recovery Center President and Clinical Director, was recently interviewed by Addiction Blog on the subject of LGBT Addiction and Recovery.

You can read the Interview on Addiction Blog.  In the Interview, Jeff discussed addiction treatment possibilities for LGBT individuals, trauma and addiction, and challenges and barriers LGBT people may face when seeking help with addiction.

 

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

New Hope Recovery Center is located in Chicago and offers individualized alcohol and drug addiction treatment in a loving supportive environment.  The New Hope with Pride program focuses on the needs of LGBT individuals.  Contact New Hope Recovery Center at 888-707- 4673 (HOPE).

On behalf of our staff, clients, alumni and friends, we thank the Supreme Court for granting marriage equality to all US citizens.

LGBT addiction and equality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

New Hope Recovery Center is located in Chicago and offers individualized alcohol and drug addiction treatment in a loving supportive environment.   Contact New Hope Recovery Center at 888-707- 4673 (HOPE).

LGBT addiction treatment

LGBT Family Acceptance ProjectRecent work by Caitlin Ryan, PhD, ACSW, Director of the Family Acceptance Project, shows that a family’s behavior and actions have long term impact on LGBT children and teens.  Her work has found that LGBT youth from loving, supportive families have drastically fewer suicide attempts and are much less likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol.  Conversely, LGBT youth who were rejected by family suffer much higher rates of suicide and addiction.

According to the Family Acceptance Project research, there is a staggering difference between the health and wellbeing of LGBT youth who felt supported and those who felt rejected.  Gay and transgender teens who were highly rejected by their parents and caregivers were at very high risk for health and mental health problems when they become young adults (ages 21-25).

Let’s look at some of the findings:

Family Rejection Has Long-Lasting effects

Highly rejected young LGBT people were:

  • More than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide
  • Nearly 6 times as likely to report high levels of depression
  • More than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs, and
  • More than 3 times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases

Suicide Attempts:

Use of Illegal Drugs:

LGBT Addiction and rejection

These two images show the serious impact of high levels of family rejection on gay or transgender young adults.  Their parents tried to change who they were. Their parents or caregivers tried to prevent them from being gay or transgender. Or they showed their disappointment or shame in having a gay or transgender child in other ways.

So if you love your child, it is important that your entire family, friends and larger community (such as churches and schools) not subject your child to rejecting behavior, but instead show acceptance and support.  It is also important to stand up for your child and not allow others to reject, bully or act hostile toward your child.

What Behaviors Should a Family Avoid?

According to Dr. Ryan, families should avoid the following behaviors:

  • Hitting, slapping or physically hurting your child because of their LGBT identity
  • Verbal harassing or name-calling because of your child’s LGBT identity
  • Excluding LGBT youth from family and family activities
  • Blocking access to LGBT friends, events & resources
  • Blaming your child when they are discriminated against, harassed or bullied because of their LGBT identity
  • Pressuring your child to be more (or less) masculine or feminine
  • Telling your child that God will punish them because they are gay
  • Telling your child that you are ashamed of them or that how they look or act will shame the family
  • Making your child keep their LGBT identity a secret in the family and not letting them talk about it

What Behaviors Should a Family Embrace For the Long Term Health of Their LGBT Child?

Dr. Ryan found the following family behaviors enhanced the long term health and wellbeing of LGBT children and young adults:

  • Talking with your child or foster child about their LGBT identity
  • Expressing affection when your child tells you or when you learn that your child is gay or transgender
  • Supporting your child’s LGBT identity even though you may feel uncomfortable
  • Advocating for your child when he or she is mistreated because of their LGBT identity
  • Requiring that other family members respect your LGBT child
  • Bringing your child to LGBT organizations or events
  • Talking with clergy and helping your faith community to support LGBT people
  • Connecting your child with an LGBT adult role model to show them options for the future
  • Welcoming your child’s LGBT friends & partners to your home
  • Supporting your child’s gender expression
  • Believing your child can have a happy future as an LGBT adult
You can make a huge difference in an LGBT person's life, by showing them acceptance and demanding that others in their life do the same! 

Acts of acceptance, caring and support can have an enormous impact on an LGBT individual years after they reach adulthood.  LGBT young adults who felt accepted have a more positive future outlook.

LGBT acceptance and health

Please visit the Family Acceptance Project to learn more and to see how you can help LGBT youth in your life and in your area.  As you can see, the stakes are high with long term consequences.  Whether you are a family member or a concerned adult, showing acceptance and support can truly change someone’s life.   The sad statistics of LGBT homeless youth show that up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBT, even though it is estimated LGBT youth make up less than 10% of the population.  These young children and teens are often thrown out of their family homes and need support and acceptance from other than their families, or they will likely face serious lifelong physical and mental health issues.

Please do what you can to help.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

 

Jeff Zacharias, President and Clinical Director of New Hope Recovery Center, is mentioned in Jamie Marich's new book, Trauma Made Simple.

According to Jamie: "My wish is that one day, every client with unresolved trauma can have the good fortune to work with someone like Jeff.  The reality is that so many trauma survivors in need of such a therapist with a health, optimistic attitude cannot find this connection."

Jamie discusses trauma in the LGBTQI Community: "There are several major issues connected to the LGBTQI community and trauma that we must consider, especially because the shame quotient can be so high for those presenting for services.  According to my colleague Jeff Zacharias, the owner and director of New Hope Treatment Center, an addiction treatment program that specializes in treating the LGBTQI community of Chicago, every client in their care has some sort of trauma.  This trauma can manifest in multiple layers, from dealing with homophobia, to bullying, to HIV infection and diseases, to dealing with unkindness from other gay people....However, the most intense layer of trauma that he [Jeff] tends to see with the LGBTQI population relates to dynamics surrounding family rejection and ostracism."

And Jamie discusses Jeff's advice to therapists:  "Jeff Zacharias, introduced in Chapter 5, believes we must encounter our biases about sexuality and strive to educate ourselves about experiences for which we have no personal frame of reference.  Jeff has declared, 'It's not enough to be tolerant; we have to be fully accepting of who people are if we are serious about helping them with recovery.  You've got to dig in, do your own work, examine your biases, and learn.'"

New Hope Recovery Center and Jeff Zacharias appreciate Jamie and her wonderful book, Trauma Made Simple.  You can order her book now.

LGBT addictionWe previously discussed the first step in the process of coming out, self acceptance.  Once someone accepts that they are in fact LGBTQ, they are then faced with a situation that no other group of people faces…how, when, where and to whom do they disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity?  Most people in our society have a default setting which assumes the people around them are straight.  This is an example of heterosexism and it is the reason an LGBTQ person constantly questions whether and when they should come out to those around them.  Most people have numerous groups of people to come out to.  There are friends to consider, co-workers, fellow students, family members, relatives, friends, and acquaintances and within each group there are subgroups.  This can be overwhelming and stressful to think about.  As we discussed previously, the stress an LGBTQ person faces around coming out can lead to heavy use of alcohol or drugs and addiction.

A person’s identity as LGBTQ begins to form before the decision is made to come out or not.  The more developed someone is in their LGBTQ identity, the more likely they are to disclose themselves to others.  Simply stated, the more comfortable someone is with their authentic self, the easier it is for them to come out to others.

Once someone accepts themselves as LGBTQ, remaining in the closet forces them to live a double life, hiding who they truly are and how they feel from other people.  This secrecy is exhausting, stressful and lonely.  A life of concealment keeps one from truly connecting to others, because no one knows the real you.

Stress and Risks of Coming Out

Feelings of shame often keep the LGBTQ person from sharing their true selves. They often hear that they are bad, or evil or unworthy.  Fortunately, things are changing.  Over 53% of Americans support marriage equality.  But reading and hearing the daily news show that the acceptance is far from universal.

People may withhold the decision to come out to others because of the risk of rejection, fear of physical harm, discrimination, harassment, and a desire to protect loved ones from the stress of coming out.  It is not a coincidence that many of the LGBTQ clients struggling with addiction also struggle with some aspect of coming out.  Either they came out and faced one of the risks listed above, or they are frozen in fear that one of those risks might result if they were to tell others.  It is very common to hear about people struggling with addiction who have compartmentalized their life in an effort to hide certain aspects about themselves from others because of shame.

Some project their own anxiety and shame onto their loved ones as a justification for not coming out to those loved ones.   For example, my fear during my closeted years was always that others could not adjust to my uniqueness but really it was me who never gave myself a chance.  As a result I developed a false self to live up to the perceived expectations of my family and society so I would not hurt myself or let others down.  Yes there is a lot of risk associated with the very brave decision to come out but the other side has unlimited potential.  Giving yourself the opportunity to be your unique, honest, and authentic self is one of the most empowering experiences you can do in your life.  Coming out does not guarantee it but it provides the opportunity and there are people who are willing to help you reach that place of authenticity.

The Coming Out Process Never Ends

There is a myth about the coming out experience: that it is this milestone event and then after that the individual is in the clear.  However, this is not the case and the decision to come out is a lifelong, almost daily process that LGBTQ individuals are faced with.  Social contexts and an individual’s environment are constantly evolving and therefore decision whether or not to disclose one’s identity to others is constantly being made.

Even once one comes out to some people in a certain group, there is the stress of wondering who else in the group has been told.  For example, coming out to close coworkers can lead one to wondering who those coworkers have told.  There becomes an uneasy wondering of “do they know”.  Because a person’s sexuality is only part of who they are, it would seem forced and strange to start every conversation with “By the way, I am gay”.

Pride Month is a time to raise awareness of the issues those in the LGBT community have and reach out to others who feel alone.  Holding onto shame is a lonely place.  Healing occurs from hearing other people’s experiences. New Hope Recovery Center offers the New Hope With Pride Program for those struggling with any aspect of addiction and LGBTQ-related stressors.  For more information please visit our website New Hope Recovery Center, call us at 888-707-4673, or email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

LGBT AddictionDid you know there is an increased risk for substance abuse and addiction for those LGBTQ individuals who are dealing with any stage of the coming out process?

What is Coming Out?

Many people don’t understand what is involved in coming out (disclosing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity).  Most envision it to be like walking through one doorway, a single time.  But it is far from that simple.  Maybe for a few celebrities who can come out in a national publication, it only involves one disclosure or interaction, but for most LGBTQ individuals, coming out is a life-long process repeated again and again. This process can be filled with stress and anxiety as the LGBTQ person contemplates who it is safe to come out to and when.

The decision to come out is one of the defining moments in an LGBTQ person’s life.  Let’s look at what is involved in coming out, how an LGBTQ individual may feel or think during the process and why LGBTQ individuals are susceptible to risks of addiction and substance abuse.

Understanding Oneself Requires Understanding Our Culture

For many LGBTQ people, based on the world they see around them, they only know one way in which it is ok to live, and that is heterosexual.  The dream they have heard since infancy is to fall in love with the opposite sex, get married, have children, and live happily ever after.   But LGBTQ people grow up feeling different.  They know they don’t quite fit in, something seems off and they sense it is them.  They often feel less than others.  They believe, and are often told by those who are close to them, that being straight is how their lives are supposed to be.

Many LGBTQ individuals feel as if they should be like everyone else.  Not fitting in, struggling to fit in and even trying to understand how they think and feel can lead to feelings of deep shame.   Many spend years hiding and denying they are LGBTQ from everyone, including themselves.  Being LGBTQ can be so foreign to them that they don’t have a way to understand who they are.

Our society is very much oriented toward heterosexuality, it is a given.  So young LGBTQ often don’t have a concept of anything other than heterosexuality.  Fortunately TV, movies, books and public discussion about LGBT rights are changing this.  But it is a slow change.  And growing up feeling and thinking differently from everyone else can be lonely.  It can also be tragic.  Suicide among Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual teens is 4 times higher than non-LGBT teens. Bullying (9 out of 10 LGBT teens report being bullied in the past year at school because of sexual orientation), gay-bashing, discrimination (it is legal to discriminate against LGBT individuals in 29 states), violent anti-gay hate crimes (including murder) are still happening around the country.  Is it any wonder LGBTQ individuals struggle with accepting their sexuality or their true gender?

Why Come Out?

For someone who is questioning their sexuality or gender identity, the first person they have to be honest with is themselves.  Not being your true self leaves you susceptible to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide.

So, the first step in coming out is to come out to oneself internally, accepting one’s own sexuality or gender.  Although this may seem to be an easy thing, it is usually not. There are many pressures on LGBTQ individuals to not fully accept themselves as being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.  Bullying, fear of being harmed or killed, fear of being disowned by family and friends and fear of discrimination are all real possibilities for many.  It can often seem easier to deny a part of themselves instead of facing these consequences.  However, denying one’s true self leads to an incredible amount of stress, anxiety and additional fear.  If we are not ourselves, we cannot form real relationships because we know the relationship is not based on our real selves.

The benefits to truly being oneself outweigh all the real and imagined risks of being LGBTQ.  However, when someone is struggling with self-acceptance, the potential risks and consequences of coming out can seem enormous.  For those struggling with sexuality or gender identity, it can be helpful to read what others have experienced.  There are a number of great books on the subject of coming out, including the classic “Coming Out: An Act of Love” by Rob Eichberg.

And one final reason to come out: It Gets Better.  It really does.  Truly being oneself is worth the risks.  Thanks to Dan Savage and Terry Miller for creating the “It Gets Better” videos and book.  They have brought real awareness to the issue of coming out and bullying and have provided inspiration to millions.

It is important to realize that the period of coming out prior to full self-acceptance can be very lonely and very stressful.  Many LGBT individuals turn to drugs or alcohol to ease the pain and suffering they are experiencing.  To help these individuals with their addiction, most find it best to seek an addiction treatment program that understands and caters to the unique needs of LGBTQ persons.  New Hope Recovery Center’s “New Hope With Pride”, is such a program.  You can reach us at 888-707-4673 or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

 

You may also be interested in reading: Addiction Recovery and Self Esteem