Substance Misuse in the Transgender Community 

It’s officially June and you know what that means LGBTQ+ Pride month! It’s an opportunity to focus on the issues many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning people face.

This blog will explore substance misuse in the transgender community and how to find a safe path to recovery if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction.

Why Are So Many Transgender Individuals Abusing Drugs and Alcohol?

A study conducted in California found that transgender youth are at 2.5 to 4 times higher risk of substance use compared to cisgender youth. It is not the only study to identify a disparity in drug and alcohol use behavior between transgender youth and cisgender youth. In fact, many studies looking at a variety of drugs and alcohol have found higher levels of use in transgender youth.1

One explanation for the increased likelihood of substance use and misuse in transgender individuals is that it is used as a coping mechanism against the discrimination and stigma many experience.  Transgender individuals experience verbal harassment, violence, and mistreatment in every aspect of their lives including1:

  • Lack of support from family.
  • Harassment at school (k-12).
  • Discrimination at work.
  • Serious psychological distress.
  • High unemployment and poverty.
  • Homelessness.

30% of transgender individuals who participated in the 2015 National Transgender Discrimination Survey have experienced homelessness. South Florida has seen a rise in homelessness in the transgender community. There is assistance available for housing and homeless services in Miami through the nonprofit Prideline’s “Project Safe.”

Co-Occurring Disorders in Transgender Individuals

A co-occurring disorder is when a person has two disorders at the same time or one right after the other.2 Transgender individuals with drug and alcohol addiction are more likely to have co-occurring mental disorders than cisgender individuals. Common mental issues that co-occur with substance use disorders include3:

  • Depression.
  • Eating Disorders.
  • Self-harm.
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts.

The 2015 National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported that 40% of transgender individuals who participated in the survey have attempted suicide4. Another study found that 26.3% of transgender individuals surveyed reported misusing drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. 5

It is critical that co-occurring disorders are treated together. An integrated treatment approach where mental disorders and substance use disorders are treated together has been found to yield better outcomes than when each disorder is treated separately. 2

Why Attend A LGBTQ+ Specialized Treatment Program?

On a positive note, transgender individuals are more likely to seek out drug and alcohol addiction treatment than cisgender individuals.7 If you are looking for drug rehab near Miami, Recovery First Treatment Center has an LGBTQ+ rehab program. Our program has created specific topics designed to meet the unique needs of LGBTQ+ individuals with addiction and co-occurring mental health issues that include:

  • Transgender issues.
  • Family dynamics.
  • History of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Coming out.
  • Healthy Relationships.
  • Stigma and stereotypes.

Recovery First Treatment Center creates a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals to heal and explore the issues they face in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.  For more information, speak with one of our admissions navigators available 24/7 via .

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