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Study Reveals Smart Recovery Can Help LGBTQ+ Community With Substance And Alcohol Abuse

Substance and alcohol abuse has been around for quite some time and it has resulted in many people losing their lives. While it affects the entire population, there are marginalized communities that are met with increased exposure to addictive products. Since LGBTQ individuals are more vulnerable to struggling with substance abuse, they also happen to be the ones that face the most obstacles when it comes to getting on the road to recovery.

Most people can seek help for their addiction through the 12-step program but a trial held by researchers at the University of Kansas discovered SMART Recovery which is a cognitive-behavioral help group that specially caters to LGBTQ individuals.

Alexander/Pexels | Marginalized groups are finally getting the attention they deserve

Making Efforts

The University of Kansas research team initiated 12 sessions of SMART Recovery online with subjects who identify as members of the LGBTQ Community. Once the sessions were completed, the researchers then held in-depth interviews with the 16 participants to discover more about their experience and response to the trials.

The results showed that the participants had a positive response to online sessions and LGBTQ+ safe spaces. However, the researchers found that there were other factors that contributed to the positive response, mainly the fact that there was emotional regulation and coping with the difficulties faced by the LGBTQ+ Community.

Alex/Pexels | Specific problems require specific solutions and treatment

Briana McGeough, Assistant Professor of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas and the research lead on this project, explained in her study published in ‘Families in Society’ journal that previously many LGBTQ+ individuals resorted to the 12-step program to help them combat addiction but certain barriers such as the religious messaging may lead to discrimination targeting their sexual orientation and identities.

This is why McGeough worked on understanding the issues that are faced by LGBTQ+ individuals and how they navigate through mental health and substance abuse treatment. The study was originally intended to take place physically but due to the 2020 pandemic, the sessions were shifted to an online platform.

Edward/Pexels | The entire world had to be shifted online during the time

However, some participants mentioned that they would rather not want to dive into the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity and focus solely on substance abuse and recovery. The participants also had difficulty remembering the behavioral and cognitive tools that were mentioned during the online sessions. These participants also faced other mental health issues like anxiety, depression, trauma, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

With these findings, the researchers can continue working on SMART Recovery and improve it to increase the effectiveness for the community long-term and provide strategies to make the treatment more efficient. McGeough believes that while there is room for improvement, LGBTQ+ individuals can look toward SMART Recovery to help them battle substance abuse while pairing it with therapy and other mental health resources especially if they are dealing with other mental health issues.

This project has the potential of growing into something that could save people across the world.

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