63: The Pot of Recovery at the End of the LGBTQ Rainbow (Sort Of)

12/27/20 We have Matt on the show to talk about recovery and how it relates to the intersection of the community of LGBTQ persons. We explore what little is being done research wise to determine if this population needs something specific in their recovery programs, what risk factors are greater for the LGBTQ population, the statistics around being LGBTQ and what that means for your chance at substance use disorder, and much more. Thank you to Jenny for the suggestion of the topic and Matt for coming on the show.  Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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Transcript:

recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery and addiction topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the views expressed here are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason i’m a guy in long-term recovery and i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery as well and today we’re going to talk about the lgbtq community to some extent i mean obviously we cannot speak of each individualized piece of that we have to take it in a general concept because we only have around an hour but we will have matt come on in a little while to talk about that just to recap some things autumn let us know that our 12-step episode was kind of beneficial for her she had just lost a loved one recently to suicide and it’s been affecting her and she works with people who deal with depression and suicidal ideation on a regular basis and she said that she kind of felt like she wanted to give up after she lost her family member but she was really appreciated that we talked a little bit about that at the end of that episode and you know i mentioned some personal experience with my daughter going on and she said it gave her a little bit of hope and so that was nice i like i said i i always hope we’re beneficial i know it’s beneficial to us but that’s just it’s always tough to hear too somebody lost someone yeah and one of the benefits i think of doing this is that we can share that recovery doesn’t just fix all the problems in the world you know it doesn’t fix or at least in our lives you know we still got to live and face challenges and problems and hardships like everyone else yeah also we got a message from julie her message said i know it’s really for addicts or from an addict’s perspective but the principles really apply to everyone i’m starting to think that the attributes of addicts are no different than the an earthlings attributes just that the attic takes them to an absolute extreme and in a more physically harmful and risky manner than a non-addict the rest of us have to learn all the same things we just hopefully learn them sooner and with less collateral damage because we’re not chasing the drug as a solution i learned something useful from pretty much every episode and i thought that was incredible yeah that’s exactly what i kind of say all the time like is it as addicts we’re just either overly sensitive or overblown in our self-centeredness in the way that we think things affect us or how we feel or how we think the world’s supposed to be but yeah they’re all normal person emotions just way overblown i guess i always hope we find a way to translate to the average individual like i love that we help people who struggle with addiction but i also hope that we’re able to say it or do it in a way that is universal and other people can listen and get something out of it so that’s really cool for me to hear yeah and indirectly i mean i have a interest in helping break down stigma just letting people see like we’re just normal people we make jokes we have fun we can laugh at ourselves you know and and not sort of be all heavy about recovery all the time like it’s about just staying clean and living life and being normal people yeah no i think that’s extremely relevant that’s a good point we also got another message from ashley through our new website it was crazy the website’s been up like two weeks or three weeks or something and i had only put the contact form up there like two days before i got this message i was like damn people are on that it says hey guys i just wanted to say that i just came across your podcast about a month ago on spotify and it’s become my new favorite podcast thank you and then she talked about some topic about the coronavirus and she wasn’t sure if we’d addressed that yet but we might actually need to and i let ashley know this we did address it a couple of times but it hasn’t been since may yes we’ve kind of just like ignored it since then and i wouldn’t i got some current feelings about recovery during during rona yeah it’s interesting to see how things have played out over this last several months yeah and it’s i mean it’s affected me in some ways just over the long term you know the less and less there are in person meetings or they come back or they leave so yeah i think we’re going to do that soon so thanks for the idea and she was just talking about being from canada and saying she loved the podcast she thinks we have great voices i don’t know why she put the little asterisks around the great and maybe that was a joke maybe it’s ironically we don’t have great voices but keep up the good work and she’s thankful for the recovery resource so incredible to get all that feedback thank you so much i really appreciate that i’m sure billy does as well yes thank you very much yeah feels good it feels nice to think that we don’t just show up here and do this i mean we do do it for our own fun but but it also is useful too like that it benefits others that’s about all i got for the intro i’m ready to bring on matt you got anything you need to talk about uh no this should be interesting when i think of the lgbtq in recovery like everyone i think recovery is the same for everybody like it’s always hard for me to understand that different people have different experiences in recovery i think it’s just universally the same as mine right and and you know i had some of those same questions and i actually just for school had to write a research paper and one of the topics was this and i was like perfect it fits right in with what i’m doing for my podcast i’ll do that and so it was interesting to go into it kind of with that mindset of i really don’t understand what we need to do different for people in that community and to learn from that mindset you know to think outside the box and i’m actually interested if matt has any input for us as well to even further that for me yeah it should be pretty interesting awesome so we’ll bring mata and we’ll be right back

okay so we’re here with matt and matt is agreed to come on today and talk about this topic with us the lgbtq community obviously you know as matt so graciously expressed us a few moments ago he doesn’t speak for all as you know none of us ever do we can only speak for ourselves for sure but we do appreciate you know having a representative to help us explore the topic so that we can get a better understanding so welcome matt hi nice to be here thanks for having me do you want to start off just by telling us some five to eight minute version of your life history i know that’s you know just cram it all in yeah what can i say yes i identify as being an alcoholic in recovery and i yeah i guess early on i always felt kind of different and i couldn’t quite put my finger on why i think other people may have decided for me because there was a lot of talk about me being quite effeminate and you know girly and all this sort of thing and not like in football which over here is like a no-no you know i didn’t really get that though you know it’s to me it was it’s just intrinsic part of who i am really and then suddenly in my teenage years starting to realize that perhaps my infatuation with this young man over here is is a little bit more than just wanting to be like them you know and that’s when i sort of started to discover that i was gay and it was difficult because i was in a catholic education system and uh irish catholic family you’re brought up to think that this is not right you shouldn’t be like this you know and i had to kind of deal with that kind of secretly in my own head and what i did know for sure was that it was intrinsic it wasn’t a choice and therefore i couldn’t feel that it was wrong i was being told it was but i didn’t feel it was because it was perfectly natural to me you know so that was kind of where i sat really and i thought well in 1980s britain when we had there’s a law over here called section 28 which was about not promoting homosexuality in schools basically it was very homophobic law you know so it was very much frowned upon homosexuality so i just kept quiet about it really and kind of got on with it and then i guess i was about 16 17 when i discovered drink and what this did to me was amazing all of the fear i had around my sexuality all the shame just disappeared when i drank you know i could be who i naturally was i felt confident i felt outgoing and just less fearful really and so at first alcohol worked as a solution to my problem if you like and i felt freed by it and very very quickly it got hold of me and i was kind of out of control i think within a couple of years of starting to drink i’d pass my driving test and lost my license you know and i was i hadn’t lost any jobs but i was having to move around before i did it was that sort of thing it spiraled very very quickly and i tried really really hard at that stage to kind of get hold of it and it became my mission really to control my drinking one that took me 20 years of trial and error and then led me to a mental health breakdown it was at that point or just that just after that point that i was able to see it for what it was not a solution but a problem and thank god i found aaa at that point and managed to get sober and that’s where i am 20 months later now awesome congratulations that’s amazing so i want to caution everyone here because this is the point where normally i would say oh my god that’s my story right i felt different i felt not manly enough i felt very you know i was bullied by whether it was my father or people in the neighborhood i was a [ __ ] i was too weak i wasn’t tough i wasn’t any of these things and then drugs provided me this freedom and it’s great to identify in but i’ve used that so many times in my life to say oh well that means that people in the lgbtq community don’t need anything different they can obviously use what worked for me because we have the same story and what i’m learning more and more is that while we have a lot of the same story to relate to there are other pieces to it right and i’ve used this to almost justify in my head discrimination or oppression because i’ve said oh well black people didn’t really deal with any other hardship than me they just described their hardship to being black whereas i ascribe mine to being some other thing whatever that may be and the fact is people do have it different no matter how much we relate and it’s great that we can relate but there’s still some extra piece that’s a little different for other people and so i just don’t want people to fall into that trap i fell into it for so long and it’s so easy to disguise that but what i do is i ignore the minority voice then and i don’t hear that there’s something else that’s being needed and i miss out on opportunities to help so just wanted to interject that yeah yeah no i get i get what you’re saying i mean we were talking before we uh started recording about it’s an area of learning for me too you know because you talk about sweeping things under the carpet i swept my own difficulties with accepting my sexuality under the carpet for years and now i’m sober i’ve got to face it you know there it is staring me right in the face dead center and i’ve got to do something about it so you know it’s early doors for me too right right you know you’re learning i’m learning alongside you so we’re no different really have you found since you’ve been in aaa have you gone to any of these the specialty meetings that are geared towards the lgbtq community and there was one here in bristol where i’m based in the uk which unfortunately folded during the beginning of the pandemic and no i didn’t go to it because i think i’ve always had a suspicion of anything with the label lgbt because i am in that community but very suspicious of that community i never felt accepted by it i never felt a part of it i didn’t feel a part of any community really i sort of felt on the outside of everything and as i said to you earlier that those are my own issues the fact of the matter is i had grown up with the same prejudice that most of the community grow up with about gay people because it’s there you know my parents they were very liberal but i grew up in the catholic church i was educating the catholic education system i grew up in the 80s you know where the things that were said about homosexuals the attitudes towards them about them living these promiscuous lives but not being moral right i had all those attitudes too you know just the fact that i was happen to be one myself didn’t change that for me i wasn’t like them i’m a moral person you know the judgment was strong yeah i had a interesting experience as a as a child i had a cousin that we were really close to and i mean before any of us reached any sort of sexuality age we were seven eight nine years old she would always hang out with all the boys she never played with dolls she would take her hair and tuck it up under her baseball hat and like run around with us all the time and she had two sisters that she had nothing in common with and we would ride bikes and run around the city and she just hung out with all the boys and was one of us and none of us knew anything about sexuality at that point we accepted her we loved her and she was just one of us and as she got older and became a teenager and it was kind of like oh did you know laura was gay and it was like yeah who cares like that’s just the way she was from a kid growing up and i think that helped me as a young teenager to see someone i was close to that i grew up with that had a relationship with and she was just her like there wasn’t anything weird or wrong about it and i was lucky to have that experience because i think it helped me you know as i got older in life yeah i had an interesting experience early in recovery where there was a guy he wasn’t quite in our neighborhood he was like one neighborhood over but we had a lot of interaction with them in the 12-step program community and i really liked him he was like a predecessor he was a beautiful individual had a great heart i don’t know i think i want to say i had like two years clean and he passed away and you know we talked about him with some people and it came up that he was gay and i was like how did i not see that like looking back it was pretty obvious like he i guess obvious i don’t know he carried himself like he was gay i just it never even occurred to me and i honestly i i kind of felt like it was a beautiful moment afterwards that i’d never even noticed it was like damn yeah that’s kind of neat that we were just friends like it didn’t matter i didn’t even think about what his sexuality was it never came up well and funny enough i don’t know if you knew or have heard us talk about it previously in the podcast but jason and i were both raised catholic as well and i was raised in catholic school and so i was raised with the same story you’re talking about where it’s like homosexuality is a sin and this is wrong and but i was doing so many other wrong things like none of it really it’s like god hates me anyway so that’s it though you see i grew up not wanting to break the rules you know i straight down the line kind of go you know like don’t be bad be good you know all of these sorts of things and here was something that definitely wasn’t a choice that i was being told was wrong and bad and you know trying to get that straight in your head and thinking well actually how can it be wrong and bad when i’ve not made a decision about it it’s just fact so you know that’s where i sort of sat for years really without struggle i found it interesting you were talking about the way that you felt a prejudice and a negativity towards what you were and possibly even put that out into other people that were like you and that’s something i’ve always heard so often in interactions with black people are talking about racism and oppression is that they internalize the same message like from a white guy standpoint i can’t picture thinking that i’m less than just because i’m a white guy like that’s a completely unfathomable idea right so to me i always just assume i’m like okay black people gay people they might feel like other people are oppressing them but they obviously think highly of themselves and i’ve never like it’s really it blows my mind to think no you take that message in too so you judge yourself and your entire likeness and community the same way that that other people are judging it so it’s like a self-hatred built in yeah absolutely and how do you talk about that you know when you have when you hold the prejudices about the community to which you are supposed to be belonging yeah who do you share that with because in a way i don’t know it’s very very confusing i mean as i say in recovery i didn’t go to specialist groups or anything like that i just happened to meet a couple of really cool people on twitter you know i’m on there quite a lot as you know i just bumped into a couple of people i asked him cher at a meeting that i was running and one of them started talking and it’s that whole thing about you know where you hear someone telling your story and i was like oh my god they think like me you know and then suddenly it was it just opened the floodgates really i was then able to just to let it all out and it’s been messy a little bit in terms of my thinking but i’m starting to get there you know and i’ve found so many wonderful friends now as a result one thing leads to another doesn’t it and you i’ve got this little group around me now of people that kind of get how my head is working and that’s really liberating that’s awesome so i’m curious how do you feel uh we have the old saying and i’m guessing this is a a thing too the men stick with the men women stick with the women sponsorship family and all that how do you feel about that how does that affect your life what’s your take on that i remember sitting in i don’t think i’d i had probably only been to a couple of meetings uh when i heard this you know i didn’t have a sponsor at the time and i heard this you know men go men women go women thing and it not me for sex because i generally speaking i’m much more comfortable with women than i am with men and certainly when it comes to talking about anything deep and emotional i would say i gravitate more towards women than men and so i really struggled with that and i was like this is going to be really tough you know how am i going to find a sponsor that i can talk to openly and honestly now chance would have it that i just you know this i met this guy and i follow the rules so i you know i went with a man and gave it a go and i would say 20 months in i’m probably a little bit more honest with him now than i was at the beginning but the sexuality stuff i’ve still not been able to address with him and now that’s again could be my own prejudices rather than his and my own difficulties around talking about this subject so i would say that i kind of understand the men with men thing and the women were women you know i think the idea the thinking behind it was you know you’re not going to get into any sort of tricky relationship stuff right but you know that doesn’t apply to me i was with a man it could still be tricky right i think these issues need to be sort of discussed and and thought about a little bit more with that sort of viewpoint really but it’s not black and white nothing ever is is it yeah it’s extremely difficult and i would say so from my experience a lot of women come in feeling more comfortable with men and a lot of men come in feeling they would much rather have a woman as a sponsor right and i think the old way to do that is to kind of you know be tough on people and know that’s yeah you might feel more comfortable with women but that’s because they’ve always been your competition you need to get with a woman and form trusting relationships now so now i think if you are a member of the lgbtq community you’re like well is it the competition factor or is it the comfort factor or is it the identification factor and you got to like second guess yourself which we as as addicts and alcoholics already second-guess our own judgment so much so it just makes it so confusing i would say the one place i’ve been s-l-a-a i’ve attended some slaa in my you know recovery career i guess and they are much more you get somebody to sponsor you that works for you they don’t have a whole lot of distinction on the men and women because there’s you know a lot of the lgbtq community that goes there and it’s not as straightforward yeah and it’s it’s a little messy i know since we’ve been doing the podcast and exploring some things you know we had done an episode about specialty meetings at one point and of course early in my recovery i was probably highly against specialty meetings i didn’t think they were necessary the same as jason i felt like everybody our experience in recovery is all the same everybody’s the same now i’ve kind of changed on that and i’ve been able to explore some of those ideas and see like these rules i think are generalizations and they don’t fit every person i know like my wife she’s sponsored a transgender person at one point who was she was a i don’t know how the word this correctly in this political era but yeah it was biologically a female who was you know now living as a male and they were both sort of confused on how to navigate that i mean like say that the program says well you’re supposed to get a female as a sponsor so my wife’s like yeah we’ll try and see what you know we’ll see where it goes but it’s it is very tricky it’s very confusing when we put these hard rules and then act like everyone needs to follow them especially when you’re talking about the subject of gender identification you know that’s complex isn’t it and it certainly isn’t right and you know that’s not something i have any sort of knowledge of it certainly isn’t black and white and i think what jason was just saying i’m just thinking then it’s more about motivation isn’t it less about the sexuality or the sex of someone it’s much more about your motivation for choosing them as your sponsor yeah and i i mean i don’t have a lot of experience in aaa but i’ve heard they’re a little more open with that than they are in n a traditionally at least here in the states like i know i previously had a sponsor who was in aaa and he sponsored and it still does sponsors women and has sponsored women at times so yeah i don’t know if that’s something that’s a little more i would say that’s because a a is more respectable and n a’s more pervs but

i don’t believe it one bit

this episode has been brought to you by voices of hope inc a non-profit grassroots recovery community organization located in maryland voices of hope is made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity and respect of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopecilmd.org and consider donating to our calls

some things i found out in this research paper let’s get into tackling some of that so in 1973 and up until 1973 we’ve talked about the diagnostic and statistics manual of mental health disorders that’s the at least in america the big manual that delineates any mental health problems you can have and up until 1973 homosexuality was still in there it was still a diagnosable mental health disorder so you know you’re talking well i guess that’s a little bit ago now 47 years ago but still not that far in the past this was not being studied at all they replaced it with sexual orientation disturbance which was another nod of like wink wink you know gay is wrong basically and that wasn’t taken out until 1987. so now you’re talking 33 years ago we were still looking at this is wrong and then i mean even looking outside the realm of mental health 2015 that’s when we decided gay people could get married like this is five years ago we just finally decided that okay sure you can have some equal rights in america i don’t know what the standpoint is and you know you know they say don’t they that you can change the law but the attitudes take a lot longer and i think that’s very true but the timings was very similar over here it was late 60s i believe it was decriminalized in this country um but very similar sort of time frame wow and so i mean yeah the attitudes do take time i don’t think attitudes have changed drastically amongst my generation per se like people my age and older are still kind of weird about everything but looking at the high school age people is different for me so when i was growing up it was like you were allowed one gay guy in each high school apparently like that was the rule you could have one for some reason and now it seems in my kids going to high school it seems they are readily able to accept everyone which is much cooler to me so i’m not just similar yeah very much nice to see some change i guess yeah no it’s really it’s really gratifying but you know when i was growing up we weren’t even allowed one i don’t remember any that were you know sort of visible you know and i was you know i was bullied terribly for being gay but i wasn’t identifying as being gay you know it was like the identification was put onto me because i didn’t do all of the things that boys are supposed to do and it was pretty nasty stuff you know in a funny sort of way that sort of bullying in you know secondary school high schools is um it kind of just reinforces that whole you know this is shameful it it kind of justifies it you know it confirms it for you in your own head so in a funny sort of way it works to reinforce those sort of attitudes that you have yourself yeah we we get into that being one of the risk factors lgbtq population when we talk about drug use and survey data what we got in america the national survey on drug use and health which is something they do yearly to you know samsa puts it on that’s the substance abuse and mental health services administration of course there’s all these big fancy titles and these you know acronyms for them but basically what they found out is that 16.5 of lgbtq adults have a substance use disorder 16.5 now the general population we estimate at 6.5 so you’re talking anybody in the lgbtq community is two and a half times more likely to have a substance use disorder that’s the kind of statistics that say this isn’t an accident yeah like this is definitely there’s reasons behind it sure what would you think are the reasons behind it from your experience from what you’ve seen i mean you’ve talked about the bullying yeah i mean the bullying the shame and the guilt and all of those sorts of things i think you know even sort of down to those you know leading this double life and you know the stress and anxiety that comes with that all of these things piling on top of you make you desperate for some sort of relief you know to forget that to get out of that mindset really just for one moment to relax and i think that that can contribute quite heavily and then of course there’s the cultural side of things that you know certainly when i was a youth um if you wanted to meet someone gay you had to go to gay clubs and bars you didn’t you know you didn’t happen to meet them in society because no one was out you know the only place you met them was in gay clubs and bars and the culture there is very much alcohol and drugs it’s everywhere you turn really everyone is doing it so i think you know there’s i think there’s many reasons for it i mean the stats as well also say that you know lgbtq people suffer from greater instances of mental health and anxiety you know difficulties you know again you self-medicate right there’s also some statistics that say that the lgbtq people are less likely to go and seek medical help so you know again you’re not going to go and get sort of help for your depression and anxiety you’re going to go and medicate yourself aren’t you right so who knows i mean there’s i think there’s just so many reasons for it yeah a lot of that came up in the research and it was interesting the the bars and club scene the social aspect of it that actually came up in my research that is one of the main hubs for the lgbtq community to have an inclusive place to hang out it’s just become bars and so it becomes a very habitual place to go and and easy to access you know alcohol if nothing else yeah i guess we need more lgbtq hiking clubs and stuff like other other places right i mean i think they are there are more of those these days

you know i you know my eyes have been opened as well like i said to you i haven’t met this small band of people now it’s expanding all the time and i’ve i’ve met gentleman in canada who works with a lot of uh young lgbtq people who are into this chem sex which i’d never heard of you know it’s like it’s basically taking lots of different drugs and having sex over a number of days you know it’s a drug fueled sex orgy basically and it’s kind of like a it’s really prevalent apparently amongst young gay people and i’d never heard of it before that’s horrible where is it again

apparently you know it’s a it’s a real problem in in certain cities you know people are dying because they’re just overdosing and stuff you know it’s just a mess yeah it’s you know that’s another thing for you to look into yeah i’ve never heard of that that’s a new one i don’t know why i’ve never heard of that yeah uh yeah just uh i mean speaking of alcohol in general alcohol is the most used drug of the lgbtq community with 64 of the population using it if you’ve never really gotten the facts on alcohol about the regular population that might not seem that high you might say ah 64 of everybody drinks but that’s not actually true less than half of all people drink we just get sold the idea by big alcohol that everybody’s doing it 37 of the lgbtq population smokes marijuana over one in three i was fascinated by that that kind of blew my mind i had no idea and 12 of persons report having an alcohol use disorder so more than one in 10 people who are lgbtq have an alcohol use disorder that’s incredible and right around 10 percent is where you hover when you talk about opioid use disorder whether it’s prescription or otherwise so basically one in 10 people are also using opioids to an extent that is you know not good for their well-being and so these numbers like you said matt they’re just staggering they’re incredible and so we talked about some of the risk factors basically when you’re talking about addiction you’re talking about risk factors versus protective factors one of the protective factors i found that’s not as prevalent for the lgbtq community is the family acceptance apparently that’s one of the biggest protective factors for not getting some kind of use disorder of a substance and it’s just not as relevant which makes sense because if we don’t accept the lgbtq community as a whole in general then obviously parents are going to feel some kind of way about their families and and even you say you grew up in an inclusive family that that welcomed you no matter what and yet still picked up a lot of this having said that you know i remember when i came out there was it was still even from my very loving caring liberal family there was still this period of grieving i would say like right you know the lost life that i should have had you know i should have been and i should have been married and all these things that when i came out were not possible for me as a gay man you know now look at me invaded by children every five minutes and and happily married thank god when i came out those things were not possible in law in this country and there was a period of grieving my parents grieved for that lost life wow that’s incredible how did that make you feel you carry that you know you carry that with you would you say like that the fact that it wasn’t like accepted in your community that that pushed you more into that high-risk lifestyle like it pushed you more into the clubs and drugs and alcohol because you didn’t have acceptance of family or friends or felt like you were hiding something not from family and friends i mean i was really lucky like i say my parents are loving and liberal minded they were you know i certainly wasn’t rejected and i wasn’t rejected by my friendship circle either it was my own difficulties with accepting who i was that i really struggled with and that’s when i drank it was this idea as i said to you i did not like breaking rules you know and here i was a pre-programmed rule breaker

you know i couldn’t help but be a rule breaker i was being told by everybody that this was wrong within society as a whole and you know and i i couldn’t deal with that and i i swung in my teenage years between drinking very heavily and having a kind of really quite promiscuous lifestyle to trying not to drink at all and being incredibly religious you know i was either one or the other i couldn’t be anything in the middle and it was just easier to land on the side of the promiscuous alcoholic lifestyle hard to fight nature that’s for sure just a couple more factors the social stigma from being a member of the lgbtq community adds to the risk factors along with internalized homophobia which is you know i believe what you’ve been talking about the whole episode and the last risk factor elevated levels of school bullying and harassment imagine that you’ve spoken about that as well and they’re they’re tied extremely closely to elevated levels of substance use 85 of lgbtq adolescents report school bullying or harassment wow eight and a half out of ten and i think the other one’s lying honestly like wow i mean i know bullying is pretty prevalent for everybody but there’s no way it’s 85 percent that’s just incredible and then we’re putting kids through this and then we’re saying well what’s wrong with you that you get high well obviously like what’s wrong with this is what’s wrong with society yeah so that’s sad so then we got to the treatment part and this is where i think i mean the numbers were staggering for me to realize but this is where i think i gained the most because when i realized i had to write a section of this research paper about treatment and treatment of lgbtq persons in particular and how that differs from treatment of everybody else i drew a blank i was like but what do you mean i mean we’re all biologically the same like you detox people the same way right you don’t give that guy a different medicine and detox because he’s gay do you really confused and baffled by this honestly looking into it basically the answer is we have no idea we don’t know if different treatment modalities work better for the lgbtq community and here’s the reasons why first there’s virtually zero funding for any studies on the lgbtq community next to none second ninety percent of the money that does go into funding lgbtq studies goes into aids aids and aids alone nothing to do with anything else outside of that third when we do take a little minuscule amount of that 10 percent of money and decide to fund oh are these treatment methods good for substance use disorders in the lgbtq community we then lump the lgbtq community all together and don’t study whether it’s different for gay men or lesbian women or transgendered individuals or anybody else was just oh they’re all the same we’ll throw them together and see what works right which is ridiculous because there’s so many incredible differences between those groups of people i mean that’s like saying let’s just study what works for men and women right together don’t study all non-whites act like they’re all right all non-white people are the same yeah yeah it’s incredible and so basically we know very little about if people need different kinds of treatment if different modes of treatment work what we have learned is obviously the lgbtq community suffers more isolation suffers more feeling of apartness and needs a place to feel included some kind of group which made me think of the specialty groups episode where i argued against you that we shouldn’t have specialty groups and was proved thoroughly wrong but we know groups could help we did go out and decide to see if places had lgbtq resources in their treatment centers what we found is that of all the places that said they did 70 percent of them were not any different than the regular services they offered so you take all the treatment centers we called half of them say they have lgbtq services seventy percent of that half aren’t any different than what they say the same exact same thing only seven percent of all those places that said they had lgbtq services could actually name a service that was different in the lgbtq service part so yeah you got seven percent of people and then they’re lumping them all together and they’re treating them differently so they really have no idea what the treatment would do there’s an entire booklet published by samsa titled a provider’s introduction to substance abuse treatment for lesbian gay bisexual and transgender individuals incredible a 228-page booklet that tells you exactly what you need to do however there’s only seven pages of it that actually talk about the treatment and in those seven pages the only thing it can really be summed up to say is group might be helpful and group is not helpful if homophobia is present

that’s insightful yes i mean i probably could have came to that without reading it so what how does that make you feel knowing that there’s like no resources no studies nothing to tell us what would be different do you i mean do you personally two-part question one do you feel any kind of way about that and two in your experience with any kind of treatment what do you think people need at least from your standpoint obviously you can’t speak for all a few months ago i would have said to you i was indifferent it didn’t really matter i’m going to a i’m getting what i need everything’s going really well thanks very much but it wasn’t going all that well and as with all these things it caught up with me eventually you know and a few months ago things weren’t going too great you know and i was kind of getting back to square one if you like now by chance i found this small band of people that i’ve spoken about before and i was finally able to see that i was really not dealing with the big issues that affected me which were around my sexual identity so now my attitude is changing completely because you do need to have again i’m speaking for myself but you need to have people around you who kind of get what where you’re coming from who know the questions to ask who know how to prompt your thinking if you like to really kind of get you to be honest about this stuff because i think some of it’s so buried for so many years i mean i’m talking about stuff that i’d kind of buried when i was 14 or 13 years old and hadn’t dealt with and not or raised or even thought about all in all that time that was still there and did need to be aired and dealt with and faced up to and i you know i did an honest step forward when i did it the first time i really did but it was just so deep that it you know it just didn’t come out so i think sometimes that’s that’s kind of the difference it’s about uh how you sustain your recovery maybe the initial bit’s the same for everyone you know in terms like you say physically biologically we detox and all of those things in the same way but if you’re going to sustain your sobriety then i think that’s where you need to have some sort of bit more specialist sort of support really in whatever way that might be if that’s specialist groups that you you discussed before i don’t know i mean as you say there’s been so little research done on it that you know who am i to sit here and tell you what what should happen you know i don’t know but what i am realizing is that there’s certainly stuff within me that wasn’t dealt with for a very long time that’s now needing to be dealt with if i’m going to sustain my sobriety and yeah that’s what i’ve learned just to clarify my statement of people not needing something different during treatment while that might hold true for the three days of detox or whatever it is i was more going into it very ignorant i think and and realizing through writing this and doing the research that people do need different things like why do i always think that everybody just needs whatever i need why do i always think that whatever worked for me or can work for me is just fine for everybody else like i think you share that with most addicts right a little self-centered there so no i think what you’re saying and maybe this is something where we fall short now to this 28-day treatment idea i think sustaining recovery needs to start in the beginning right we need to start sustaining as soon as we get there and and i think we do need something else and like you said there’s there’s no research so what is that obviously groups where we can connect people with people like them that can help them i think that was beautiful people who can ask the right questions for for the people who don’t even realize that there’s a problem going on underneath but like what else do we need i i don’t think we’re gonna learn that until we do more research until we ask more people what would have been useful for you when you were trying to find recovery what did you need that wasn’t being provided but we need something and just in in as a observer of the conversation like what is interesting is we really find a difficult challenging spot in that we don’t think there’s anything mentally wrong with lgbt community but at the same time it’s almost like are we supposed to say well they need special treatment because like how do you navigate those two things without being contradictory you know what i mean how do you say well they’re you know they’re just normal people that just need normal treatment but now they’re not because they need this specialty treatment like it creates a sort of hard balancing act there to try to figure that out right from a from a like professional you know clinical setting well i think for one one of the things we mistake often is that we say oh people need a specialty treatment outside of you know regular treatment and i think the regular treatment is a specialty treatment it just happens to be a specialty for white dudes it’s especially geared towards hey straight white guys here you go here’s your specialized treatment everybody else will just have to do that because we’re going to call it the norm and so it’s not so much that that’s really the normal or regular treatment everybody i mean we were talking to jessica and she mentioned that everybody needs an individualized plan for what works for them right it’s not even really a norm or a specialty i don’t think but i i do get what you’re saying what do you have any thoughts about it matt do you understand what he’s getting at it’s complex that one isn’t it yeah well and i’m not a huge fan of the political correctness world sometimes because we tend to we put these limits on ourselves because we are not supposed to say like this is a challenging spot like i agree i agree with you in the sense that yeah what we can do is trip over ourselves trying to avoid saying something in case it’s controversial or upsetting and i think i’d rather people were just honest you know because you can then address it if you find something offensive or difficult you know you can talk about it once it’s out there but i think yeah i think you’re right it can be a barrier sometimes to actually having a really open and honest discussion about these things again i don’t have the answers i know what you’re saying i think as we talked about earlier i think it’s the experiences that members of this community have had that then mean that they are more likely to have mental health difficulties or substance abuse addictions and all those sorts of things going on yeah it’s a circumstance of society’s attitudes towards that group isn’t it that kind of makes them need something different but like you say it doesn’t set them apart from everyone else i mean women have something different from men black people from white people and so on and so forth that goes on as layered and as you say all we’re doing is trying to unpick what different people need and you could even whittle that down to the individual as jason was sort of alluding to you can take that right from you know you can separate separate us into groups and then you can go down to right right down to individual needs in terms of how do we sustain this person’s recovery from the very beginning i appreciate you bringing that up i can picture hearing that from somebody in our county right but yeah i think what we mistake a lot of times we talk about oh people in the lgbtq community are are normal people and so we just need to treat them like everybody else and i think we miss the point with that i think when we’re we’re not trying to gain equality for people to be normal we’re trying to gain equality because people have inherent worth and dignity right they’re worthy of love and dignity and being treated right just because they breathe and so that’s what we’re seeking for in the equality sense it’s not like oh hey let’s label them normal and group them in with everybody that’s not really the goal the goal is just they have that equal stature right and now because of that equal stature we also need to address their specialized needs i think that’s what we’re going for and at least in within our local recovery community so we’re in a pretty rural area here in america it’s very christian based not very cultural definitely not very liberal and i would hope that most of the supports as you were talking about would come from the local recovery community that we could be like loving and accepting as people when they come in you know despite whatever their differences and that we actually almost encourage specialty meetings not to push people out into their own individual groups i mean ideally they’re coming to other groups and part of the recovery community at large but then that they have a safe place that they can go and identify and get some of those specialty needs addressed you know i mean ideally that sounds like the place where we want to be and i see a little bit more of that in this community in the last couple of years that we’re sort of becoming more open and encouraging of people of all different experiences to welcome them and love them into our recovery community yeah i i mean i love i haven’t heard the uh this specialty meeting podcast you did i’d love to hear that one actually because it’s been something that’s been coming up lately in my life and it’s that whole thing around specialty meetings and are they closed just to those people are they open to everyone to come along and all that sort of debate and it’s quite contentious and from my perspective i mean it’s quite clear to me certainly with aa that the the meeting should be open to all alcoholics you know and i’m sure that’s the same with n.a and all the others you therefore can’t close it off simple as far as i’m concerned but also there’s a benefit i think to having a specialty meeting that is open to all and that sounds kind of odd because how can it be specialty if it’s open to all that what we’re talking about here is a group that you’re you’re identifying this group is designed for this community and within these walls we accept that we can speak freely about these issues and there’s going to be no judgment and there’s going to be no sort of abuse there’s going to be none of that stuff it’s a safe place that said everyone is welcome because i think you know there’s a benefit for everyone in that meeting to to gain something from it it doesn’t matter if you’re straight or not you know being in that meeting you will hear something that you can relate to as we’ve all said it doesn’t really matter you know there’s that basic experience that led us to have our addictions but also you’re going to learn something about that community and maybe some of your own prejudices will disintegrate or your understanding of people within that community will broaden and that’s a good thing so you know it’s an interesting debate so i’d love to hear hear what you said what you talked about on that one i i look bad in it so just to let you know i completely changed my mind but we also had a discussion with sylvia on racism in recovery that’s another good one also because she brings up her experiences she’s a woman of color but she’s also an lgbt community and so she has kind of both of those struggles and her experience with being in like say this when i say rural area it’s predominantly white it’s old white people yeah old white people is what it is yeah and her experience and kind of how she’s navigated some of that for herself over the years i think she’s got what you say 17 or 18 years in recovery she’s been around a long time and she’s a beautiful person and she just talks a little bit about her experiences you know navigating some of that it’s very very interesting so have you encountered or have you witnessed because you said you you aren’t openly bragging about yourself but have you encountered or witnessed any discrimination marginalization or even just any kind of things against people of the lgbtq community going on in any recovery you’ve experienced it’s limited to bristol my recovery and no it’s quite a liberal city though that i live in so um awesome left-wing liberal touchy-feely very arty farty tight place i love it so no i haven’t personally i think what i have felt perhaps uncomfortable about times in aaa meetings particularly is a sort of a male macho sort of dialogue that can make me feel a bit uncomfortable i think it also makes some women feel uncomfortable but it’s not you know i’ve not witnessed any straightforward prejudice or discrimination no being very very lucky you walk into a meeting for your first time is there anything that someone you run into could do to make you feel more comfortable that you think is outside the realm of what would work for the normal person like is there something you would say that would make you feel just maybe not talking about macho stuff or something like is there anything else well that would probably be it i mean when i first went walked into the rooms i was there was none of that going on thank god i think if i had encountered that on my first meeting it would probably make me a bit reluctant to go back again so what i found was a bunch of very warm open people and that’s all you can be isn’t it especially when you’re first meeting a newcomer you don’t know anything about them and i think to go up to them and go oh you look like a gay are you a gay

would be probably the worst thing you could do so no one’s expecting that i think it’s just about being warm and open and and not assuming anything about anyone when they walk in that door right apart from they may be an alcoholic and they may need help keep it limited to that and you should should be all right really right is there anything else you had thought about wanting to say when you were invited on today that we haven’t brought up at all no not really we’ve kind of covered all bases i i did a little uh spider graph before before we came on all the sorts of things that were going on in my head and i realized that by the time i got to the end of this a4 piece of paper that was basically covered in scribble and lots of very negative words that i’ve still got a lot of work to do so i won’t pollute you with that i think that’s where that’s for me to kind of deal with bit by bit i’ve actually found this really useful to clarify some of my thinking and i think just hearing other perspectives and actually just raising this issue for everybody not just because we need to address these terrible figures that you talked about earlier the lgbt community but because we need to talk about as you said the different ways that we all need to work through our recovery in order for it to be successful and that’s what we’re here for isn’t it you know yes for us all to be clean and sober and anything that makes that easier for us i think is a great thing and these open conversations are just really positive so thank you for the opportunity absolutely billy did you have any uh i just wanted to say my experience in recovery has been i have never found like that one sponsor that one person that’s been able to to address all my issues that i’ve had in recovery and that’s really made recovery beautiful in that i’ve been able to branch out and talk to different people about different issues you know the things that have gone on and i encourage you to just keep exploring finding people you’re comfortable with you know it’s great to see in recovery so stay there and before we let you go matt has a website where he blogs and talks about his recovery experience and gets the word out and raises awareness and drops stigma and all those wonderful things so why don’t you tell us where your website is yeah it’s misery contest.com appropriately aimed yeah i was told very early on that this is not a misery contest i like it i think that’s because i i do have this tendency towards being quite miserable really and uh quite negative so uh i i’ve kind of put that i’ve called it that to remind myself not to be so miserable all the time and it is just a load of ramblings about there’s a couple of blog pieces on some of the steps uh and all of that sort of thing but most of all it’s just things that come up you know and i write about it and i you know i was told i think it was the first three or four days i was in recovery somebody said to me write it down because you one day you’ll need to look back on it to remind yourself why you did this and they were right too there was a point where i thought you know why why am i doing this this is hard work i went back to the beginning and had a good read yeah so it’s been my own again my own little bit of therapy and it works that’s awesome so yeah definitely if you get a chance and you got some time to read read some of matt’s stuff i enjoy it whenever i see him posted on there i check it out and usually identify probably because you have that tendency to be miserable

but now it’s great having you on i really appreciate it thank you so much and uh i’ll be talking to you okay yeah thank you very much man thanks very much

so what do you think i think it went well yeah this whole exploration with the podcast has made me so much more open-minded to new ideas and different people’s experience in recovery and i think my experience coming in some of our languages oh we focus on our similarities and not our differences and we’re all the same and and we say these things and it’s not that they’re not true but it’s like if i’m only focusing on my similarities then i will minimize your differences and act like they don’t really matter when that’s not the case like people’s differences matter that’s super interesting i hadn’t even thought about how our own literature kind of goes against us in that way whereas like look to to focus on the similarities that’s great for comparing in right but that’s also an individual process so like i need to focus on my similarities to everyone but somebody from the lgbtq community needs to come in and while they can hear the similarities with you they also want to focus on the similarities with people that are more like them right and those are experiences would i sponsor someone who was homosexual absolutely you know i would have no problem with that would i sponsor someone who was a transgender person who was a male that wanted to be a woman i’m not sure would i sponsor someone who was a woman that was living as a male you know it was biologically female i don’t know you know those are interesting kind of things where i guess if i was put in that situation i’d have to maybe figure out but you know those are things that i haven’t really spent much time thinking about it’s just like oh we all just come in men with men women with women you get a sponsor you work steps and it’s fine you know but those are challenges that different people have that don’t get really discussed or talked about yeah i don’t know what i would do whether that be in sponsorship or in you know my future in therapy i don’t think i would turn down anybody and if i did it wouldn’t be turning them down out of like having a problem with them it would be more i’m nervous that i don’t have enough information to help you right you know what i mean like i i’m just not sure i can un hear you and i can understand you and empathize but i don’t know that i’m going to have the insights you need so it wouldn’t be like uh turning people away out of dislike it would be turning people away to hope they could find someone with better information more available resource to them yeah or just you know what the expectation and experience is and i guess that was my last parting comment to matt maybe i didn’t word that as well as i wanted but maybe his sponsor that he has now who’s a you know male has some really great insights into the steps and how to live in recovery and how to deal with those things and it’s still okay to keep some of that you know his experiences as a gay man within his support group of his gay friends or people that have those experiences like just because we have a sponsor doesn’t mean we have to disclose every intimate detail of our lives to that one person at least my opinion really yeah what are you lying to me about though what are you holding back i don’t know no i could see that i mean i personally like the idea of being able to share everything but i also don’t have any issue that has happened that i have not gained a level of acceptance with that i’m willing to talk about it pretty much anywhere or at least with a few select individuals there’s a couple pieces that don’t go just anywhere yet but for the most part like i don’t have anything that’s still affecting me that deeply and and sometimes we do right and that’s what you’re talking about like if we have to take that somewhere else that’s fine yeah and and i don’t specifically think that i do either at the moment but that’s also with 20 years in recovery and working a bunch of steps and dealing with a bunch of those issues you know i don’t know that i would have said the same thing with 20 months clean or a year clean or two years clean and three steps right behind me don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater don’t get rid of the sponsor who’s got great step information just because he doesn’t feel like the safe place for your right i know for years for me personally like you hear people say i went to a meeting and i heard this person tell my story and i would say for years like i never felt that way i never felt like anyone has told my story in years since i actually have heard one or two people like wow that’s [ __ ] really similar like and it has happened but for the most part for the first half of my recovery i never felt like oh that’s exactly what i come from yeah i don’t know i can’t remember i hear my story when i tell it

all right so you got anything else no awesome nothing else today so thank you so much for listening obviously go out there and love everyone that’s walking in without assuming anything and allow them open space and specialized meetings without judgment because people could need that as soon as we ever do the research we’ll prove they need it we just won’t fund it yet and just be a kind loving individual god damn it i’m tired of having to remind you i’m just kidding i’ll remind you every day how much easier would your life be if you stop being so annoyed by people all the time no i take that person all right so come back next week we’ll be here again don’t forget we got a website now so go on there and check us out recoveryswordup.com and from there you can find us on everywhere else the twitters facebooks and instagrams and uh we appreciate your feedback if you got ideas for topics if you think you have something to come on and talk about get in touch with us and we’ll figure all that out and stay safe out there if you enjoyed this podcast please feel free to share it with people you think might benefit from the conversation look us up on facebook twitter and instagram to join the conversation also and share your ideas with us we love to hear

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