Understanding Needs of Transgender Individuals in Treatment
Everyone has unique needs for safe and effective addiction treatment, and transgender individuals often require specific, informed care that focuses on avoiding traumatization, validating identity, and helping patients feel comfortable and safe.
Transgender Identity in Addiction Treatment Centers
Though many people still don’t understand the difference between sex and gender, our culture is shifting to become more considerate and tolerant, as many do begin to make the distinction (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Transgender individuals must be made to feel that their identities are respected by the staff at their treatment center, as this will allow them to connect with their caregivers. It also offers them basic regard, which every person seeking treatment deserves.
This is paramount to the needs of transgender patients in recovery, and as such, is one of the reasons why many individuals choose LGBTQ-affirmative care for their treatment. This way, they will know that the will receive the respect offered to any other patient while seeking help.
Trauma-Informed Care for a Transgender Patient’s Addiction Treatment
Transgender individuals are also among the groups most at risk for violence and assault, especially transgender women of color (Office for Victims of Crime). Trauma, especially when caused by assault and violence, is among one of the most common co-occurring issues associated with addiction for any group, and those who are at a higher risk of these issues, such as women and LGBTQ youth, are at a higher risk of substance abuse as well.
As such, trauma-informed interventions are often necessary when treating transgender individuals addicted to drugs or alcohol. Trauma-informed care focuses on making sure patients are not retraumatized during treatment while also on helping patients work through experiences of trauma while being treated for addiction (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). As with a co-occurring mental illness, when addiction and trauma are treated simultaneously, stronger recoveries are created. It is important for both transgender patients and their caregivers to understand this.
HIV Testing and Treatment for Transgender Patients
Unfortunately, the transgender community also suffers from a high rate of HIV, especially trans women. Between 2009 and 2014, 84 percent of those in the transgender community who were diagnosed with HIV in the US were trans women (1,974 out of 2,351) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). In 2015, HIV testing events found that the percentage of trans people receiving new HIV diagnoses was over 3 times that of the national average.
This is a serious issue that affects the transgender community greatly, and the use of illicit drugs has a severe risk of transmitting HIV. For this reason, addiction treatment for transgender patients should also offer testing, prevention, and management for HIV.
Safety and Security During Recovery
Finally, transgender patients deserve to feel safe, secure, and comfortable during treatment, as this can often help patients stay in treatment longer and experience better outcomes in long-term recovery (NIDA). The ability to feel this way may rely on different aspects of care for different individuals.
The most effective thing caregivers at a specific facility can do is talk to their patients and find out what their needs are as well as what will help them to feel more comfortable while in treatment. Transgender individuals are often put into situations where they are not allowed to feel comfortable (or have been at some point in their lives), and this should not occur in professional addiction treatment where safety and comfort are necessary for an effective recovery.
Addiction Recovery and Treatment for Transgender Individuals
If you are trans and you’re looking for professional addiction treatment, you will want to make sure the facility of your choice takes your needs into account and offers you care that suits those needs. Choosing a treatment center specifically for LGBTQ individuals can be a great way to find care of this type.