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Recovery Center Offers Help to Gays, Lesbians

With the San Fernando Valley being home to the second largest gay and lesbian population in Los Angeles County, Addiction Recovery Services in North Hollywood provides a full range of programs to help their gay and lesbian clients get clean and sober. The Valley office is a satellite of the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in Los Angeles, located in Hollywood.

In a modest office off Cahuenga Boulevard, counselors Lou Evans and Jeffrey Khteian meet weekly with their 35 clients for one-on-one sessions and encourage them to attend 12-step meetings that target gays and lesbians.

The San Fernando Valley satellite has been in operation for three years, offering group meetings, crisis intervention, HIV education and individual and couple counseling.

“When a group of people have been prejudiced against, they turn to addiction,” Khteian said, explaining the high incidence of substance abuse among gays and lesbians.

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“And the only place to meet other gays or lesbians used to be bars,” Evans added.

With the growing number of gays and lesbians living openly, Khteian and Evans said that meeting places of choice have shifted from bars and bathhouses to coffeehouses and restaurants with patio dining, steering the emphasis away from alcohol in social situations.

To promote a substance-free lifestyle for Addiction Recovery clients, Evans and Khteian sponsor social events--everything from an evening out at the Hollywood Bowl minus the bottle of wine in the picnic baskets to clean and sober bowling leagues and dances.

While the counselors have found that most of their clients are alcoholics rather than drug addicts, a commonly used drug among them is crystal, a methamphetamine that is cut with rat poison.

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Both the Valley branch and the office at the Hollywood center are funded by Los Angeles County, but the counseling sessions are paid for by the clients based on a sliding scale rate.


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