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Recovery Unplugged Shares How To Celebrate Pride and Maintain Sobriety

by Billy McEntee

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday June 26, 2021
Originally published on June 26, 2021

Recovery Unplugged Shares How To Celebrate Pride and Maintain Sobriety
  (Source:Getty Images)

If a partying lifestyle is associated with some aspects of LGBTQ culture, then Pride is our bacchanal. For those who are in recovery and on the sobriety path, Pride may be a challenging time. Fortunately, no one is alone in their journey.

"The thing that helped me the most was being able to trust and lean on the community I built," says Michael Alvarez, an alumni coordinator at Recovery Unplugged, an LGBTQ-inclusive substance abuse treatment center with locations in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia.

"Reaching out when I felt lonely or even bored and just talking to someone — that's gotten me through some rough times; knowing that isolating for me is self-destruction and that there are always people who are willing to listen. We're social creatures," says Alvarez. "We share our strength with each other in community, and we make it through together, one day at a time."

Alumni coordinator Michael Alvarez  (Source: Recovery Unplugged)

Recovery Unplugged continues to build a growing network of people in recovery — a community that LGBTQ people can feel proud to be a part of. In that way, it gives Pride a multifaceted meaning.

That network begins at Recovery Unplugged and is fortified after one's departure. "We hold Pride events for alumni, and we march in the parade every year," Alvarez says. "This month, we're doing a Sober Open Mic Session for Pride month here in Texas."

At Recovery Unplugged, clients can expect a welcoming environment, which is necessary for one's safety, comfort, and ability to grow. "Recovery Unplugged has trauma-informed therapists and gender-affirming care," Alvarez says.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, LGBTQ populations are twice as likely as heterosexuals to suffer from a substance abuse disorder. "We're fully mindful of the daily and long-term stigma, abuse, and judgment we experience in the LGBTQ population," says Alvarez, "and we allow for personalized treatment programs that address specific clinical, behavioral and lifestyle struggles that we face."


"It was such a relief, when I was a client here, to know that I wasn't going to be judged for who I am," says Alvarez of his own experience at Recovery Unplugged, "and that there were other clients here that were just like me."

The community Alvarez built and relied on became one of the foundations for measuring success in his current role.

"Success as an alumni coordinator, for me, looks like preparing clients for transition back into their lives after treatment and making sure they have access to all the community resources they need to succeed (sober living homes, support group meetings, recovery community organizations, recovery informed wellness providers)," he says. "I want clients to feel confident in themselves and their recovery, to know that regardless of what's going on in their lives after treatment, we are here to provide them with the support they need. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing that spark of life come back in people's eyes. Recovery gives us a certain vitality that we could only have dreamt of when we were in active addiction."

Many of Recovery Unplugged's staff members understand firsthand the experiences of those currently in treatment. That affords what Alvarez calls a "unique experience and perspective to share." In this kind of supportive environment, "We all learn from each other," he says. "Navigating recovery as a queer person seemed like a very daunting idea when I thought I had to do it alone."
At Recovery Unplugged, that is never the case as community is integral to its mission — during Pride and every other month.

"The compassion and kindness I was shown when I first got sober with Recovery Unplugged were the main things that made me stick around — I made a whole host of friends, and now I've come back to work for the same place that helped me change my life," Alvarez says. "The way things work out sometimes... the universe is wild. I'm eternally thankful and blessed to be a part of the community."

Are you or someone you love struggling with drugs or alcohol? Recovery Unplugged offers LGBTQ-welcoming substance abuse treatment. Visit recoveryunplugged.com or call 855-909-8818.

How Music Medicine Heals

This story is part of our special report titled How Music Medicine Heals. Want to read more? Here's the full list.