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Trans adults experience elevated levels of substance use disorder diagnoses compared to cisgender peers

Transgender adults experience elevated levels of substance use disorder diagnoses (SUDD) relative to their cisgender peers, which suggests that effective, culturally tailored SUDD treatment interventions are warranted.

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Transgender adults experience elevated levels of substance use disorder diagnoses (SUDD) relative to their cisgender peers, which suggests that effective, culturally tailored SUDD treatment interventions are warranted.

This is according to a study – “Prevalence and Co-occurrence of Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Substance Use Disorder Diagnoses Among US Transgender and Cisgender Adults” by Jaclyn M. W. Hughto, PhD, MPH; Emily K. Quinn, MA; Michael S. Dunbar, PhD; et al – that appeared in JAMA Network Open.

This cross-sectional study used the OptumLabs Data Warehouse to analyze de-identified claims from approximately 74 million adults aged 18 years or older enrolled in commercial or Medicare Advantage insurance plans in 2017.

The study involved 15,637 transgender adults (4,955 [31.7%] transmasculine/TM) and 46,911 cisgender adults (23,664 [50.4%] men). Most (8,627 transgender adults [55.2%]; 51 762 cisgender adults [55.2%]) were aged between 18 and 40 years.

Comparing transgender to cisgender groups, significant differences were found in the prevalence of a nicotine (2,594 [16.6%] vs 2551 [5.4%]; P < .001), alcohol (401 [2.6%] vs 438 [0.9%]; P < .001), and drug (678 [4.3%] vs 549 [1.2%]; P < .001) SUDDs.

Among transgender adults, cannabis was the most prevalent drug SUDD (321 [2.1%]), followed by opioid SUDD (205 [1.3%]) and cocaine SUDD (81 [0.5%]), whereas among cisgender adults, cannabis and opioid SUDDs were equally prevalent (cannabis, 186 [0.4%]; opioid, 207 [0.4%]), followed by cocaine SUDD (59 [0.1%]).

The researchers concluded that “the prevalence of SUDDs was significantly elevated among transgender adults relative to their cisgender peers.”

So for the researchers, there is a “need to ensure access to high-quality SUD treatment for transgender individuals as well as additional research to understand facilitators and barriers to SUD treatment engagement for this population. Such research can inform the development of novel public health interventions to prevent and treat SUD among transgender people.”

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