A family does not necessarily have to be made up of biologically related individuals. Indeed, many LGBT people ultimately choose their own family – a loving and supportive, strongly bonded group of individuals which will look out for and help each other in the manner of a more traditional ‘family’. Our families, whether biological or chosen, can have an enormous impact in the way in which we view ourselves and live our lives. This is particularly true for LGBT individuals, for whom a lack of familial comprehension and/or acceptance of the person they are has been known to lead to drug abuse. However, in such cases, there is a good chance that family therapy, heightened understanding, and a renewal of family bonds can help a lot with recovery.
Conflicted identity issues, and the feelings of worthlessness connected with them are not uncommon for LGBT individuals. One does not even need to be rejected by one’s family to feel these kinds of emotions – all that needs to happen is for them to not really understand you for who you are. This encourages a sense of isolation from those whom you love and respect the most, and can make one feel terribly alone. Being misunderstood is a painful business, which all too often leads to mental anguish and depression. These things in turn can lead to substance abuse.
However, all is not lost. Family therapy can be a fantastic tool for LGBT individuals who have succumbed to substance abuse disorders – or who are struggling with the emotional burdens which come with familial rejection or misunderstanding. One of the first steps such therapy will take is to – in a calm, rational, non-recriminatory environment – try and enable different family members to get to know each other for who they really are. Once understanding has been fostered, acceptance and love often follow quite naturally, although in some cases understanding and its subsequent empathy may take longer than in others. Once family bonds are restored, a therapist will work with the family to try and re-establish a working dynamic (which may be different to that which has gone before) and heal old wounds. With the agonies caused by familial misunderstanding on their way out, much of the emotional impetus towards substance abuse will fade. To learn more, read this article.