Preventing Substance Use by Supporting LGBTQ+ Students
“We have to transcend our differences to transform our future.” – Antonio Guterres
Research shows that youth are less likely to use substances when they experience fewer risk factors. These risk factors include things like prejudice, bullying, family conflict and rejection, and stress brought on by dealing with these issues on a daily basis. A study published in 2018 found that LGBTQ+ youth are 12% more likely to misuse substances compared to their heterosexual peers, and that is mainly due to the fact that they experience the aforementioned risk factors at higher rates.
The increased rates of substance use in the LGBTQ+ community is not limited to students. LGBTQ+ adults have reported higher rates of substance misuse and substance use disorders. The National Institute on Drug Abuse shared findings from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health which found that LGBTQ+ individuals reported marijuana use, opioid misuse, and alcohol use disorder at double the percentages reported by the overall population. The Trevor Project had similar findings in their 2020 survey. These studies highlight the importance of creating safer environments for everyone because if we work together to change our schools and communities, then there is a chance that we can also reduce the rates of substance use and misuse.
Schools are doing their part by developing policies and procedures that seek to address LGBTQ+ concerns. Anti-bullying policies, safe spaces, and curriculum that addresses LGBTQ+ issues are just a few of the ways schools are making a difference. Community and family support, advocating for school policy changes, educating yourself on LGBTQ+ topics, and most importantly, showing youth that you are a safe person to talk to are a few of the ways we can support this vulnerable population outside of school. By supporting LGBTQ+ students we are reducing the risk factors they face which can lead to a brighter future for everyone.
LGBTQ Youth And Addiction
Preventing Substance Abuse Among LGBTQ Teens
Substance Use and SUDs in LGBTQ* Populations
Substance Use and Suicide Risk Among LGBTQ Youth
Why American LGBTQ Teens Are More Likely to Abuse Drugs