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Report: Substance Use Prevention Efforts Need Greater Focus on LGBTQ Youths

March 30, 2020

A national advocacy organization is urging more attention to the needs of LGBTQ youths and young adults in substance use research and prevention initiatives, following its publication of a research brief showing higher rates of recent substance use in this population.

The Trevor Project's March research brief, published last week, reported that past-month alcohol use is 25% higher among lesbian, gay and bisexual high school students and 18% higher among LGB young adults ages 18 to 25 than among their heterosexual peers. In addition, their use rates for illegal drugs such as methamphetamine and heroin at the high school level are triple the rates seen among heterosexual youths, reported the research brief, titled “Substance Use Disparities by Sexual Identity.”

The Trevor Project's primary focus is suicide prevention in the LGBTQ population. The findings for its March research brief are based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

“In the face of one of the worst drug crises in the U.S. ever, these disparities are incredibly alarming and underscore the need for national prevention strategies to be inclusive of LGBTQ youth,” Amy Green, director of research at The Trevor Project, said in a news release.

Green added, “We must improve federal data collection around sexual orientation and gender identity to better understand substance use and suicidality among all LGBTQ youth.”

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