Alcoholism is a disease affecting people of all races, nationalities, social strata, and sexual orientations. Though sometimes viewed historically as a self-indulgence, a lack of personal control or other character weakness, our modern understanding of alcoholism as a disease has opened the door to a wide range of options for those seeking recovery and sobriety.
Alcoholics seeking to overcome their addiction and get sober often soon learn that interpersonal support is an important part of their recovery process. Having others with whom one can share experiences, and from whom one can learn what approaches work best, increases the likelihood of success. Rather than trying to stay sober alone, contact with others in similar circumstances can provide much-needed reassurance and encouragement during the recovery process. The more prevalent support options include group meetings, working one-on-one with others facing similar challenges, obtaining medical, psychological or professional counselling services, and participation in treatment centers that specialize in alcohol addiction.
It is at this point of recovery that gay men and lesbians can often benefit from support mechanisms more tailored to the needs of their community.
Alcoholic Recovery in the Gay & Lesbian Community
While alcoholism crosses all sexual orientations, gay and lesbian alcoholics in recovery often face unique challenges. Professional assistance may be sometimes tainted by the prejudices of those providing it, or at a minimum be limited by the caregivers’ lack of knowledge of those aspects of gay society that distinguish it from the larger straight community. These limitations may become more pronounced when one seeks assistance from mainstream sobriety self-help groups, where prejudices and lack of knowledge can be more glaring in lay men and women who, though sober, lack professional helping skills.
For those living outside of metropolitan areas where there is a large gay and lesbian population, the feelings of isolation and lack of social acceptance that many gay people experience can be intensified. These feelings can be worsened by the further isolation of dealing with addiction to alcohol, and getting sober itself can be hampered by imposing a social barrier to the interpersonal support that is widely regarded as so important to recovery. For these reasons having the means to make and maintain contact with sober gay men and sober lesbians can be vital to those seeking recovery.