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Meeting the substance abuse treatment needs of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women: implications from research to practice

Authors Stevens S

Received 22 September 2011

Accepted for publication 5 November 2011

Published 1 February 2012 Volume 2012:3(Supplement 1) Pages 27—36


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Sally Stevens

Southwest Institute for Research on Women (SIROW) and Department of Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS), University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

Abstract: Research on the incidence, etiology and substance abuse treatment needs of lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) women is limited. Most research indicates higher levels of alcohol and drug abuse among these populations compared to their heterosexual counterparts, with recent research indicating that substance abuse is a particular concern for transgender individuals and an increasing problem among younger LBT individuals. Risk factors and reasons for substance abuse among sexual minority women are similar to those of heterosexual women, yet are substantially complicated by issues of family rejection and lack of social support, stigma and minority stress, as well as abuse and harassment. Historically, substance abuse prevention, early intervention, and clinical treatment programs were designed to meet the needs of the sexual majority population with relatively few programs designed to incorporate the specific needs of sexual minorities. This article reviews findings from previous studies and utilizes new data collected from community-based and residential substance abuse treatment programs to (1) examine issues relevant to LBT women and substance use, and (2) make recommendations for tailoring substance abuse treatment programs to meet the needs of these populations.

Keywords: lesbian, bisexual, transgender, substance abuse, family rejection, social support, stigma, minority stress, abuse, harassment

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