Sexual orientation and gender identity are just two of many characteristics that describe you and the way you live. They don't determine anything about your personality, morality, or behaviors, and they certainly can't be changed to relieve religious or social pressure. However, conversion therapy is an attempt to do just that. It's one of the most harmful remnants of a bigoted, outdated belief system that's otherwise losing ground in favor of equality and acceptance.
Unfortunately, alcoholism and drug addiction have both been linked to this harmful practice. The connection between conversion therapy and substance use is real but complicated.
Unfortunately, thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people are subjected to conversion therapy methods every year in the United States. This mental health practice is designed to "cure" or reverse homosexual desires, replacing them with heterosexuality. They also target gender identities that don't align with biological sex. Kids and adults alike are often forced, tricked, or pressured to undergo this process, but many do it willingly, and we can understand why.
If you're not straight or cisgendered, you may enjoy more rights and visibility than previous generations, but that doesn't mean your life is easier. You may be bullied, alienated, or shamed simply because you have same-sex attractions or fail to conform to gender norms. Conversion therapy may appeal to your desire to be "normal", because it holds the promise of transforming you into someone society will accept.
This is an empty and impossible promise, and it's especially harmful to participants who already struggle with self-acceptance. Only two states and Washington D.C. have prohibited this practice, and then only for participants under 18. However, it's overwhelmingly condemned by the medical community, precisely because of the acceptance issues it creates.
Confidence is valuable for everyone, but it's especially important for those who face daily discrimination or struggle to understand their own identity. Conversion therapy revolves around painting this identity as wrong, and when it fails to change, people are left with the sense that they're "faulty", or too weak to change. While substance use is far from the only option for these people, it's often an attractive one, because it alleviates or numbs the emotions that this shame causes.
If you want to stop using substances to cope with the effects of conversion therapy, be careful about the methods you choose. While the ethics and intentions behind conversion therapy and 12-Step programs are very different, they have a few things in common. They link your permanent identity with negative traits ("addiction" or "unnatural" desires), and remove your sense of free will. If you want to choose your own behaviors and avoid substances, you'll have to embrace your individuality and independence instead.
Saint Jude Retreats knows that substance use is a chosen behavior, rather than a disease, and nothing except free will can directly cause or prevent it. We'll work with you to rebuild your confidence, but you already have the strength. We welcome everyone to experience a program where your needs, wishes, dreams, and goals are the foundation to building a happier, more fulfilled life. Your plan is yours alone to create making it fit the unique person you are.