Proud Sobriety will offer support to LGBTQ+ community members
A new group aimed at supporting LGBTQ+ community members in their sobriety will meet for the first time on Friday.
Proud Sobriety is a peer-led support group hosted by Third Street Family Health Services. The group is scheduled to meet from 6 to 7 p.m. each Friday at Grace Episcopal Church, 41 Bowman St.
Proud Sobriety plans to offer a safe space for LGBTQ+ people and their allies to find sober supporters and build connections to achieve greater recovery success for substance use disorders.
Meri McCann, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) navigator for Third Street Family Health Services, will help facilitate the meetings.
"My background is working with substance use disorders," she said.
McCann, who has been with Third Street for about four months, recently celebrated four years of sobriety.
She and the Rev. Joe Ashby, who opens his church to Love on a Mission, an LGBTQ+ support group for young people, came up with the idea for Proud Sobriety.
"We sat down and started brainstorming what we could do," McCann said. "We want it to be open to everyone, to people who are supportive and nonjudgmental. It will be a safe place for everyone."
There is a need for such a group. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when compared with the general population, LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to use alcohol and drugs and experience higher rates of substance use disorders.
Many in LGBTQ community self-medicate
McCann said those people abuse drugs and/or alcohol four times more than the general population.
"It's due to a lot of factors," she said, listing social stigma and violence as two such factors. "A lot of times, families have locked them out."
McCann said many in the LGBTQ+ community self-medicate to numb the pain, while also suffering from mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
She emphasized that Proud Sobriety will be anonymous.
"There won't be any record of who attended," McCann said.
'We want to love and support regardless'
Also, attendees do not have to be clients of Third Street. McCann said she will not be there to solicit business for Third Street, but she can refer people to programs there if necessary.
She said peers will lead each Proud Sobriety meeting, taking the conversation wherever it may go.
"We want to offer love and support regardless," McCann said.
She said the meeting time and day were intentional.
"The weekends are particularly hard for people," McCann said. "We want to provide a place where people can start the weekend on a positive, supportive note."
She added she is not sure how many people will be there Friday night, but she hopes the number will increase through word of mouth.
McCann wants group members to get where she is: sober.
"I could not imagine I could be where I am today. There were a number of people who provided support and love and didn't give up on me," she said. "That's why Proud Sobriety is so important to me."
To learn more, call or text McCann at 567-333-0279 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: LGBTQ+ community can get support, love from Proud Sobriety