Have you ever sat all alone in the cafeteria? Even if someone came to join you, the conversation likely felt strained and awkward. It isn’t easy to relate when you don’t have much in common with those around you. What if you had to share private, vulnerable details about your life with the people at your table? Would you have felt safe and supported? That’s what it’s like for many recovering addicts stepping into a new sober living facility.
The more marginalized the resident, the more likely they are to struggle to acclimate.
Population-specific sober living facilities allow you to leverage your unique identity. You can create the safe, secure environment for healing you wish you’d had in recovery. We’ve created this guide to help you identify the populations best served by this model.
Read on to learn more about the vulnerable populations that need your support to thrive.
Types of Residents: An Overview
Addiction treatment is challenging enough without feeling like an outsider. If you want to help your residents feel welcome, consider opening a population-specific facility.
Substance abuse and addiction are often linked to trauma. Identity-related trauma can be some of the hardest to overcome. A safe living environment can make all the difference in a resident’s recovery.
Sober living houses primarily serve as a form of community. If residents cannot relate to one another, they can’t serve as a support system. Homogenous populations lead to higher recovery outcomes and better experiences.
We’ve provided an overview of a few of the special populations your facility might serve. We’ve also included considerations for staffing and other resources below.
Recent surveys suggest that 25% of all members of the LGBTQ+ population experience some form of substance addiction. Compare that to the 9% instance of substance abuse among the general population.
It can be challenging to live in a constant state of otherness. Discrimination is a significant factor in developing substance use disorders in marginalized populations. Legal discrimination can impact employment, finances, and marital status, which leads to stress.
Often, sexual minorities struggle to find culturally-competent care when pursuing sobriety. This can lead to higher rates of relapse. Recovery is easier when individuals don’t need to hide any facet of their identities.
Queer-friendly sober living facilities provide marginalized individuals with a built-in community. They offer opportunities to speak openly about sexuality-related struggles. Safe facilities reduce the fear of discrimination or judgment.
Select staff who can help create and maintain a holding environment. Ideally, you’ll hire individuals allied with the LGBTQ+ community. You may wish to offer staff special training in trauma-informed care.
Biology and culture play a role in substance addiction. These differences make women’s struggles unique compared to those of cisgender men.
Drugs and alcohol impact feminine bodies differently. The perception of addiction also varies based on gender roles.
Women may use substances to cope with struggles that rarely impact men. These include fertility, body image, and managing certain types of pain.
There is also a link between substance abuse and sexual violence. Victims of violence are more likely to have used substances before and after the altercation. Those individuals might not feel safe in co-ed sober living facilities.
Historically, research has not included women in drug use and addiction studies. Much of what we know about substance use disorders comes from studies on cisgender men. Professionals are still learning about special considerations for treating women.
Remember that women are more likely to be mothers. You may wish to keep that in mind when creating guidelines for your facility.
Transgender and Gender Minority Populations
Research suggests that transgender and nonbinary individuals experience substance addiction at the same rates as members of the broader queer community. They live with similar concerns related to discrimination and stress. Subsequently, they struggle with access to care, high rates of relapse, and stress.
Transgender individuals are also more likely to fall into a dual-diagnosis category. 44% of trans people live with depression, and 33% live with anxiety. They may require staff with special training during aftercare.
While it is still dangerous to live as a trans individual in America, acceptance is growing. So, too, is the need for trans-friendly sober housing. Your facility can help fill a rising need for the recovery community.
It’s essential to do your research when working with vulnerable and marginalized populations. Policing your entry requirements isn’t enough to create a supportive environment for recovery. In fact, flexibility is critical when serving specific populations.
“Queer” is a multifaceted identity, and gender and sexuality do not always correlate.
Will your facility welcome gender non-conforming individuals? Is there room for trans individuals who do not “pass?” Do you allow residents with complex intersectional identities?
Cultural competence is key. Without it, you may accidentally render your facility unsafe for those you want to help. Pursue connections with organizations in your community. Empathy is critical in this line of work.
Safe and Secure Sober Living
Think back to how challenging it was to open up to the strangers in your process group. Treatment doesn’t end when recovering addicts enter sober living facilities. Population-specific facilities can help vulnerable individuals feel more supported in their temporary home.
Are you opening a supportive, population-specific sober living facility? Taste Recovery allows potential residents to search for quality facilities by state, population, and more. Visit our blog to learn more about starting and listing a facility in our database.