Originally published in Lavender Magazine, September 2020
September is National Recovery Month, a time to increase awareness of mental health and substance use disorders. It’s also a reason to celebrate the people who recover.
In Eden Prairie, Pride Institute is helping LGBTQIA individuals from around the country reset in a comfortable environment.
“We were the first LGBTQIA-specific program for substance use and addiction treatment in the country, and since have become leaders in the field for 34 years,” said Luke Miller, Pride Institute’s Director of Business Development.
Pride Institute originally opened in 1986 as a direct response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They provide residential, partial hospitalization, and outpatient treatment services for substance use disorder and addiction. They also have specialty programs that occur weekly, including Transwellness, Meth and Men, Sexual Health, a family program, and other gender-specific groups.
“Our model was created for the LGBTQIA+ community specifically,” Miller said. “A lot of programs have tracks, or specialty groups, but at Pride, being queer is the standard, not the exception.”
Residents of Pride typically stay 30 days, while outpatient services last approximately 20 weeks, or five months.
Jessica Green from Minneapolis heard about Pride Institute from a friend who attended their treatment program. Green was a resident for six weeks in 2019.
“My journey with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health issues began when I was about 12 years old,” Green told Lavender. “I used substances to numb emotions that I did not want to feel, and as a way to cope with the fact that I really did not want to be alive. Prior to deciding to attend Pride Institute, I was in such a dark place that I had decided that ending my life was the only way to deal with all of this. Due to some divine intervention, the idea came to me that maybe getting sober could help with some of these problems.”
Green, who identifies as pansexual, experienced problems with inpatient hospitalization because staff did not know where to room her since her attraction is not dictated by gender. “This really got in the way of addressing necessary issues at the time,” Green said.
“This sort of thing would never happen at Pride. Pride allows people to be comfortable in their true identity, removing what is often a serious barrier to receiving help. It also allows individuals to build a support network of folks in the sober LGBTQ+ community that is immensely helpful both at Pride and after discharge.”
“Since we are an LGBTQIA-specific treatment program, most of our patients correlate their substance use with past trauma and negative life experiences that came with being in the ‘other’ category society placed them in,” Miller said. “Pride is, and has been, providing safe spaces for people in the community so they can share their stories, and hear others like them, to gain the tools and education to beat addiction.”
“At Pride, an individual can be fully comfortable expressing their gender identity and sexuality without fear of being judged for these things,” Green added.
The ‘Pride’ of America
Pride’s residential location, in Eden Prairie, includes 42 beds.
“During my time at Pride, I took part in group therapy sessions, individual therapy, art therapy, 12-step recovery meetings brought in by community organizations, meditation-based recovery, and even spending time outside going on walks or having bonfires as a part of my recovery,” Green recalled. “I saw a psychiatrist, who helped with medication for my mental health issues. I was monitored by excellent nursing staff who ensured my safety at all times. I had the opportunity to get to know so many amazing individuals, many of whom I am still in contact with today. On Saturdays, my family was allowed to come visit and they brought my dog to come see me, which really helped as I missed her so much while in treatment. I was even able to attend the Gopher State Round-Up with Pride, which is a yearly Alcoholics Anonymous convention that takes place in Minnesota with the chance to attend many meetings and meet groups from around the state.”
During COVID-19, staff at Pride are following CDC guidelines to provide patients the care they deserve. Pride Institute’s outpatient program has moved to a virtual platform.
Pride Institute is in-network with Minnesota Medicaid and accepts public funding through the state of Minnesota.
“If an LGBTQ+ individual feels that substance abuse is negatively affecting their life, Pride Institute is an amazing place to begin a journey of recovery,” Green said. “There is so much more to life than drugs and alcohol, and it is possible to get and stay sober with Pride. Pride Institute didn’t just change my life. It saved my life and allowed me to build a life worth living.”
To learn more, call Pride Institute’s admissions team at (952) 934-7554. You can also fill out a referral form on their website, www.pride-institute.com. An admissions coordinator will do an over-the-phone assessment to make sure your needs, goals and values will be best served by the program.