Social structures of sobriety & recovery: a personal note

I was very hesitant to write about this, but as qualitative research includes the researcher, I think it’s important for my dissertation and further work for me to publicly note that, like my future research subjects, I am a queer person with mental health concerns, including alcoholism. June 28, 2020 made two years of sobriety. A supportive community and free, LGBTQ-focused healthcare are why my recovery is possible.

There is not a single addict out there who doesn’t want to get clean. It’s not a matter of willpower alone.

Alcohol abuse was my main attempt at self-medication. In all of the states I lived in before MA, booze was cheaper and more accessible than behavioral healthcare. Not to mention more socially acceptable.

Y’know what else wasn’t socially acceptable? Being queer. Even if people praised rainbow capitalism, the structures didn’t protect or serve folx.

If you scratch the surface of LGBTQ addicts’ stories, you find the pain of being ostracized, alongside the fear of being outed not only for being queer, but for being “crazy.” This impacts every phase of recovery—and, I hypothesize, information seeking about addiction.

Recovery requires acknowledging structural injustices and administering comprehensive, intersectional behavioral healthcare programs that are easy to locate and utilize—as well as developing community where people feel supported not as addicts who need “saving,” but as people who are discovering meaning.

But it’s not enough to do all that if we fail to recognize that white people are more likely to receive improved treatments than Black people, because Black people are more likely to be sent to jail/prison for addiction-related behavior, while white people are sent to rehab.

Imprisonment is not an addiction treatment program. It is, at its core, yet another system of othering. But these are threads for another sampler.

For today, let me say gratitude for the people that have supported my two years of recovery, acknowledgement that these necessities aren’t universally available, and commitment to making recovery equitable and accessible for everyone.

Because Black [Queer Addict] Lives Matter.

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