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Oregon’s Hazelden Creates First Treatment Model In Nation for LGBTQ Community

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Buster Ross

Buster Ross

The first integrative model in the country to treat addiction specifically tailored for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people has been rolled out in Oregon. 

The new program, directed by Buster Ross, is being implemented by Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nation’s leading addiction treatment provider, at its Springbrook residential facility just 25 miles southwest of the city.

Hazelden started offering LGBTQ services in 2011, progressively increasing and refining its services since that time. Ross’s dedicated role as the program director began in early 2014, while the national launch of the program happened in June.

As much as 30 percent of the LGBTQ community may struggle with substance abuse disorders, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. That compares to estimates of 10 percent of the population as a whole.

Despite those numbers there has been little in traditional treatment that addresses that community. 

Ross and his colleague, Audrey A. Klein, Ph.D., statistically compared LGBTQ patients to heterosexual clients on a number of variables: frequency of pretreatment alcohol and illicit drug use; mental health disorders; and past history of physical or sexual abuse.

From their research Ross and his colleagues have developed a comprehensive treatment that recognizes and addresses all of the significant issues LGBTQ individuals face.

New data

New data indicates addiction for LGBTQ individuals can be especially complex and contain a myriad of issues: rejection, shame, anxiety, depression, trauma, internalized homophobia, and identity conflicts and confusion.

Ross’s research shows that relative to heterosexual clients, LGBTQ clients are:
•    Nearly twice as likely to report physical and emotional abuse;
•    Three times more likely to have a history of sexual abuse;
•    Significantly more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety;
•    More likely to be dependent on more than one substance;
•    More likely to suffer a mental health disorder in addition to substance abuse;
•    Nearly three times more likely to report prior episodes of detoxification and two times as likely to report inpatient treatment prior to admission at Hazelden.

Springbrook  campus

Springbrook campus photo http://www.hazelden.org

Ross’s program has between eight and 15 LGBTQ clients engaging at any time, though he would like to see that number grow to 15 or 20.  

“It’s a community model and I think we continue to see benefits with higher numbers of clients participating.” 

"Bill," a program participant with a history of relapse and significant violence through gay bashing, says, “I’m grateful for the help and support I received during my stay at Hazelden. They were the most productive months of my life so far."

Success rates

As for success rates, Ross says, “We have been doing much of what our program consists of over the last three years, and when we look a those cases we have promising preliminary data.

"LGBTQ clients in our programming appear to stay in treatment longer, more frequently engage in our slower step-down program, discharge atypically at half the rate [i.e. leave treatment against medical/staff advice], and have a higher rate of staff approval for their aftercare plans ... These are significant correlates with better treatment outcomes--including abstinence at six and 12 months after treatment.” 

How do Ross’s professional peers see this report? 

Joe Kort, author of "Gay-Affirmative Therapy for the Straight Clinician" participated in a panel last month as an independent party and supports Ross’s research. 

“I'm confident more will support it once the full article is published and more professionals in the field are introduced to the data.”

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, Q Center, and Sex-Positive World present the Sexual Health Series. Co-sponsored by Basic Rights Oregon. For more information please click here. 


Homepage Photo Credit: -Marlith- via Compfight cc


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