RiverMend Health Centers One of Few Drug and Alcohol Recovery Programs for LGBTQ Communities
June 24, 2015 (Atlanta) Coinciding with the June recognition of National LGBT Pride Month, RiverMend Health Centers begins a specialized LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) program for addiction treatment at its Metro Atlanta location. “I am pleased to announce that RiverMend Health Centers – Atlanta will now provide a safe, supportive and affirming environment for the treatment of drug and alcohol issues, mental health diagnoses, and sexual health needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual transgender and queer/questioning communities. In addition to programming addressing substance use disorders, we are providing a daily curriculum addressing the specific needs of these patients,” said Sadie Hosley, MA, LADC, LPCC, who led development of GDRC’s LGBTQ specialized addiction treatment and recovery program.
RiverMend Health Centers is meeting a great need and is now one of only a few addiction treatment programs in the United States to provide a dedicated LGBTQ track among its recovery programs. Not only is the state of Georgia experiencing a drug epidemic  with heroin-related deaths increasing by more than 2,000 percent from 2010 to 2014, but also the LGBTQ population is at higher risk for chemical dependency, coupled with delays and challenges in accessing health care including treatment for the disease of addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Studies indicate that, when compared with the general population, LGBT people are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, have higher rates of substance abuse, are less likely to abstain from use, and are more likely to continue heavy drinking into later life.” . National Institute of Health findings reveal that “…sexual minority youth were anywhere from two to five times more likely to use drugs and alcohol than heterosexual youth.”
In addition, the American Medical Association states that research shows that “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and (LGBT) populations, in addition to having the same basic health needs as the general population, experience health disparities and barriers related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression. Many avoid or delay care or receive inappropriate or inferior care because of perceived or real homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and discrimination by health care providers and institutions.” 
“The curriculum developed for RiverMend Health Centers’ LGBTQ track addresses core issues — points that have in the past been primary indicators for relapse in the community — specifically identified within this group of people. In this program, patients will work through issues related to communication, relationships with their family of choice, intimacy, historical, societal and daily traumas that occur to these patients, learning to work through rejection, discrimination and microagressions that happen daily, and being able to find strength in their identity for both being in LGBTQ and recovering communities. We have created a safe and affirming environment for clients to look at how these issues relate to their addiction and work with a peer group to identify ways to live a healthy sober life,” added said Tina Black, LCSW, Vice President of Operations, RiverMend Health Centers. Ms. Black is well-known among addiction treatment professionals in Metro Atlanta for her expertise and experience developing and facilitating inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol recovery programs.
“Providing a LGBTQ specific addiction treatment program is a matter of advancing communication, cultural competence and patient-centered care, which are best practices and the expected standard for all forms of clinical patient care, whether it’s treating heart disease, providing routine cancer screening or working with patients suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. As a leader in addiction treatment, RiverMend Health Centers works to remove shame and stigma surrounding the chronic diseases of addiction and substance use disorder. When a patient perceives a healthcare environment to be safe and supportive, the patient is more likely to have a quicker path to recovery,” adds Ms. Black.
“Culture-specific addiction treatment is key because it takes into consideration a patient’s psychosocial experiences. The same applies to working with those suffering from substance abuse and mental health disorders who identify as LGBTQ. It’s important that addiction treatment counselors, therapists and recovery coaches are competent in working with the community and provide programming for specific needs. RiverMend Health Centers now offers this specialized program in Metro Atlanta, which is home to one of the largest LGBTQ populations in the country,” says Kristen Scheel, National Director of Admissions, RiverMend Health, the parent company of GDRC. Ms. Scheel is a master’s level counselor who has more than 10 years’ experience serving LGBTQ patients in addiction treatment programs.
To learn more about addiction treatment and recovery programs at RiverMend Health Centers call 1-844-520-2053 or visit www.rivermendhealthcenters.com
- Jacobs, William S., MD, “The State of Addiction in Georgia”, RiverMend Health Centers, rivermendhealthcenters.com, 2014.
- McDonald, Lauren, “Heroin related deaths increasing in Georgia”, Morris News Service, OnlineAthens.com, June 14, 2015. http://onlineathens.com/local-news/2015-06-14/heroin-related-deaths-increasing-georgia.
- Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, American Medical Association, “Guidelines for Care of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Patients,” January, 2006. download pdf
Affiliation with Medical College of Georgia
RiverMend Health Centers represents Georgia’s first ever affiliation between an addiction treatment center and an accredited academic Medical College. Together these two organizations work in tandem to develop and advance scientifically driven treatments that are based on outcomes data, evidence-based methods, experiential learning and continuous rehabilitation. This expanding partnership will increase awareness, deter substance abuse and increase access to treatment for Georgians. Making addiction medicine part of the curriculum for physicians and continuing education for current practitioners through the Medical College of Georgia will provide Georgia residents more access to quality treatment.
About RiverMend Health Centers
Located in Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia, RiverMend Health Centers specialize in treating drug and alcohol addiction, dual disorders, and pain management through its statewide network of detoxification programs, Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs). Seeking help for addiction is a brave and difficult decision. Recovery is not far from reach at RiverMend Health Centers. If you, or someone you know, needs help we are here to help. Call us at 844-250-2053 or email us at info(at)rivermendhealthcenters(dot)com.
About RiverMend Health
RiverMend Health is a provider of scientifically driven, specialty behavioral health services to those suffering from alcohol and drug dependency, dual disorders, eating disorders, obesity and chronic pain. Founded on the belief that addiction and obesity are the nation’s most pressing healthcare challenges, the company brings together the world’s preeminent experts and a network of rehabilitation facilities to provide neuroscience-driven treatment and holistic care, research and education. Learn more about RiverMend Health at http://www.rivermendhealth.com or call 877-879-3312.