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Special Issues Affecting the Treatment of Male and Lesbian Alcoholics

In order to treat their gay and lesbian clients in constructive and health-enhancing ways, counselors must be able to determine when to focus on their clients' alcoholism and basically ignore their sexual orientation and when to attend closely to client's sexual orientation and the interplay between it and the alcoholism. Although the counselor needs always to be sensitive to sexual orientation, there are times when it must be directly addressed if it is creating problems for the client. Being able to make such determinations accurately and somewhat objectively and being able to carry out the treatment in a sensitive manner requires that counselors have significantly tempered their own homophobia and that they have acquired a fair amount of knowledge of gay/lesbian lifestyles. Being able to do this also requires that counselors have a repertoire of methods which directly address the issues particular to gayllesbian alcohol-

ics' recovery processes. In effect, counselors need to know some specific "how-to' s" .