As part of our commitment to supporting Pride this month, we are featuring spotlights on a number of well-known people in collegiate recovery and students who speak about their experience as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. This week we are honored to feature an interview with student and ARHE intern Justin North-Olague.
ARHE: What unique challenges have you faced in your recovery as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?
Justin: I feel that the biggest challenge I have faced as part of the LGBTQIA+ community has been the lack of understanding about the specific needs of LGBTQIA+ people in recovery. Many treatment providers do not understand the prevalence of specific addictions among gay men. Most of my friends who are gay and in addiction also deal with sex and other process addictions. Their usual DOC is meth. There is also usually a history of sexual trauma that tends to go untreated in treatment.
ARHE: How inclusive has your experience been within a CRP?
Justin: My CRP has been very open and welcoming. I have never felt marginalized or neglected or left out. I know that this is not the case for students in other CRPs and for that I feel lucky.
ARHE: In what ways can CRPs and campuses work to be more inclusive and representative of your perspective and experiences?
Justin: I believe that if CRPs were to partner with the LGBTQIA+ office on their campus (if one exists) they could learn so much about how to better serve their non-cisgender students. If there is not an office of LGBTQIA+ services on campus there needs to be one.
ARHE: Which resources have been particularly helpful to you?
Justin: I have an amazing group of friends who are part of the LGBTQIA+ population and who are also in recovery.
ARHE: If you could offer words of support to LGBTQIA+ folx thinking of joining a CRP what would you say?
Justin: “Never let your fear decide your fate.” I have that tattooed on my arm and it is so true. You may be the only queer person in your CRP. That’s okay. It might be uncomfortable or even a little scary at first. Uncomfortable and scary causes growth. Be your most authentic self.
To read our first feature, an interview with Patrice Salmeri click here.