Families, policymakers, and professionals can play a role in preventing substance abuse among LGBTQ teens. They can also provide the support that these teens need to avoid or deal with the substance use problem. Over three-quarters of teens try alcohol by the time they reach the 12th grade. Almost half of them use marijuana by this time while 21% of teens in the 12th grade have already abused prescription medications. These statistics should make any adult with a teen at home worried.
The issue is, even more, pressing for caregivers and parents whose teens are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. That’s because LGBTQ teens face more harassment, stigma, and even rejection by families. As such, they tend to abuse alcohol and drugs more than non-LGBTQ teens. This explains why more LGBT rehab centers https://addictionresource.com/drug-rehab/lgbt-rehab/ may be needed in the future if nothing is done to address the issue.
Substances that are Commonly Abused by LGBTQ Teens
Marijuana, prescription drugs, and alcohol are some of the drugs that all teens are likely to abuse. They are also likely to try hallucinogens like LSD, mushrooms, heroin, methamphetamine, and Ecstasy among other non-prescription opioids.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents are up to 90% more likely to abuse drugs than heterosexual adolescents. And, this difference is more pronounced in certain subpopulations.
Overall, alcohol is the substance that teens in the U.S are likely to abuse the most. That’s probably because it is easily accessible. Although strict laws are prohibiting the sale and provision of alcohol to teens, they still get it using fake IDs and from their older friends. Others steal alcohol from parents.
Marijuana comes second in the list of substances that are commonly abused by teens. Though some teenagers believe that marijuana is safe, it can cause mental health issues, academic difficulties, and anxiety.
Prescription drugs come third in the list of substances that are commonly abused by LGBTQ teens. These include pain relievers like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Unfortunately, prescription drugs can lead to death in the event of an overdose.
Club drugs like stimulants and hallucinogens are also commonly abused by LGBTQ teens. These are popular at social events like concerts. They include meth and Ecstasy.
Synthetic marijuana is also a common drug abused by teens. This is also called Spice or K2. Its immediate effects include psychosis and it can also lead to seizures and high blood pressure.
Ways to Prevent Substance Abuse among LGBTQ Teens
If you have a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer teen, don’t wait for them to start abusing substances and eventually take them to an LGBT rehab. It’s better to take preventative measures to ensure that they don’t start abusing substances. Here are some of the ways society can prevent substance abuse among LGBTQ teens.
Providing Family Support
Among the primary influences for substance abuse among LGBTQ teens is support from family for their gender identity and expression, as well as, sexual orientation. When a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer teen has caregivers or parents that support their sexual orientation, they can withstand stress from sources like school better.
Providing support to LGBTQ teens entails more than just tolerating or ignoring their identity. You need to talk openly about LGBTQ identity with the teen, invite the friend of your teen for family activities, and appreciate their hairstyle or clothing choices even if they are gender-typical. You can also attend LGBTQ events with your teen.
When the families of LGBTQ teens take such affirming actions, they feel comfortable to open up when stressed or faced with life problems. Thus, they are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Affirmative steps by families can also give LGBTQ teens better self-esteem, social support, and health. That’s because they won’t have problems like suicidal thoughts or depression. Overall, these teens are unlikely to end up in LGBT rehab facilities because they will have a support system in their families.
When LGBTQ teens have better relationships with adults like teachers, they are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, most LGBTQ teens feel less supported by adults in their schools when compared to heterosexual teens. However, those who feel supported are less likely to use substances than their non-LGBTQ peers.
In addition to supporting LGBTQ teens individually, adults can create a school environment that ensures that LGBTQ teens are not harassed. This is very important because research indicates that the disparity in substance abuse rates between LGBTQ teens and their peers may be due to school victimization, harassment, and discrimination.
Preventing or Addressing Bullying and Bias
Professionals like educators and experts in LGBT-friendly rehab centers can help in preventing or addressing bullying and bias. They can do so by speaking against bias and bullying of LGBTQ teens. Many practices can be taken to intervene or help bullying victims. Anti-LGBTQ behavior or comments should also be addressed.
Planning and practicing responses to LGBTQ identity disclosure and questions on this gender orientation can help in establishing rapport and trust with these teens. LGBTQ teens use different terms when describing their gender identities and sexual orientations. Familiarizing with these terms will help adults when it comes to connecting with and helping LGBTQ teens.
Educating LGBTQ Teens about Substance Abuse
Professionals from LGBTQ rehabilitation centers and other experts can convey important messages and information about substance abuse and its effects. This can prompt those using drugs to stop or seek professional assistance.
In addition to these approaches, advocates and public policymakers can come up with policies that combat homelessness of LGBTQ teens while reducing their unjust punishment. They can also make policies that enhance prevention while creating treatment strategies that are ideal for LGBTQ teens.