Tips for Being An LGBTQ+ Ally in Recovery and Everyday Life

You may have more power than you think in supporting your LGBTQ+ loved one in addiction recovery.

Supporting an LGBTQ+ Loved One

The term “ally” when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community is used more and more lately, but what does it really mean? The unfortunate reality is that the word is misapplied, and even commoditized, during PRIDE but once the month is over, institutional and personal advocacy often vanish right along with it.

In the meantime, LGBTQ+ individuals are significantly more likely to experience:

These are just a few of the issues that impact the LGBTQ+ community, and factors in which genuine allyship can make a real difference.

Another issue that disproportionately impacts LGBTQ+ adults is substance use disorder. This community is twice as likely to experience problems with drugs or alcohol than those who identify in the sexual/gender majority.

While this reality is often related to the factors listed above, it can require a deeper level of advocacy and alignment, particularly when a person is trying to begin and sustain addiction recovery.

How to Be a True LGBTQ+ Ally

It’s important to realize that while they share collective struggles and obstacles, the LGBTQ+ community is, by no means, a monolith. Each member of this population has their own unique battles to fight and it’s important to be an ally to the person, not just the identity. Having said that, here are some things you can do to be a better ally overall.

Get Informed

Knowledge is power for you and for your LGBTQ+ loved one. Make an effort to understand the size, scope, diversity, and cultural influence of the community, as well as the unique types of adversity they encounter on a daily basis. Take some time to read some articles, learn some statistics, and get informed. This signals that you are invested in and willing to understand their struggles. Knowing the vocabulary, identity designations, and diversity of membership is important for inclusivity and respect.

Send “Safe” Signals

If you signal to your loved one that you’re in their corner, they’re much more likely to open up to you. This can be something as direct as a declaration of support or something more understated like talking sensitively, compassionately, and intuitively about LGBTQ+ issues, whether it’s new legislation, healthcare issues, notable members of the community, or anything else.

You can also tell your loved one, in no uncertain terms, that you’re there for them and that you’re a safe person they can go to if they’re threatened, stressed out, or marginalized.

Be Willing to Have the Hard Conversations

This means with your loved one as well as with yourself. Be honest about what you don’t know and recognize your implicit biases and how they impact your behavior, even subconsciously. Willingness to work on your lack of understanding can open up new avenues of awareness and better enable you to have to tough conversations with other people about these issues.

The Human Rights Council has also provided some comprehensive resources on being an being LGBTQ+ ally in general.

Being An Ally to an LGBTQ+ Person in Recovery

Allyship with the LGBTQ+ recovery community also requires understanding the unique adversity they face, but specifically how it can lead to self-medication with alcohol and drugs. Offer yourself as a member of their support system, be mindful of your drinking and substance use around them, be sensitive to their daily and long-term struggles, and make an effort to celebrate their triumphs and milestones in recovery.

Just as you have acquainted yourself with the issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community writ large, get educated on the disease of addiction and what your loved one will need from you in their long-term recovery. Check in with them periodically, and just let them know you’re there.

Recovery Unplugged Is An LGBTQ+ Ally and Inclusive Treatment Provider

Recovery Unplugged is fully mindful of the unique issues that LGBTQ+ individuals face, and how they can lead to alcohol or drug use. We offer specialized addiction treatment that includes gender-affirming housing, compassionate and intuitive therapy, and LGBTQ+-friendly clinicians.

Contact Recovery Unplugged today at 800 55-REHAB if you or your loved one are a member of the LGBTQ+ community in need of help for alcohol or drug addiction. You don’t have to fight this battle alone. We’re in network with most insurance companies and offer locations across the country.

Do you have any insights to add on being an effective LGBTQ+ ally? We're always looking to learn more! Let us know your suggestions for strengthening support and advocacy!