Transgender Teens at High Risk of Substance Abuse

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Transgender teens – adolescents who identify with a gender that differs from their given gender at birth – are at high risk of substance abuse

A study published in the Journal of School Health found that transgender teens throughout California school districts were over twice as likely to experience issues with substance abuse than their cisgender peers (those who identify with a gender that matches their given gender at birth).

Teens who identify as transgender often stand up to a large number of stressors – more than the average high-schooler. On top of homework and extracurriculars, they often deal with pushback from their teammates, friends, and even their families.

Overall, LGBTQ youth experience higher rates of drug-specific addictions due to both internal and external factors. They not only often struggle with coming to terms with their identities, but also face violence and discrimination from others. These factors also may play a role in the substance abuse problems facing many transgender teens today.

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According to the Journal of Sex Research, transgender teens who become victims of bullying are more likely to use and abuse alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs. Addiction in adolescents often transcends into adulthood – adding on to the many hardships transgender individuals are likely to face throughout their lives.

Is there a way to prevent substance abuse among a population so vulnerable to mistreatment and isolation? Officials may have to start by tackling the bullying problem. School programs could have a significant impact, says the Journal of LGBT Youth. A small sample of transgender school-aged teens demonstrated that initiatives such as gay straight alliances (GSAs) and strict anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies were strongly effective for these individuals.

It’s also very important to encourage transgender teens in your life to seek professional help if they consider turning to drugs or other substances to deal with bullying and other possible related stressors. Anyone and everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, has the right to learn to develop healthy coping mechanisms to live better, happier lives.


Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.
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