Medically Reviewed

Why American LGBTQ Teens Are More Likely to Abuse Drugs

1 min read · 2 sections

Several decades of research have shown that LGBTQ teens are more likely to abuse drugs than their heterosexual peers. A study published in 2008 has shown that, on average, the odds of substance abuse in LGBTQ teens were 190% higher than for heterosexual youth.

The relationship between sexual orientation and adolescent substance abuse is clear, and the outcomes are alarming.

Why Are Teens Abusing Drugs?

Illicit drug use in adolescents has dropped in recent years. 31% of adolescents admitted to using drugs in 2001. This figure fell to 24% in 2009, and it reached only 20% in 2017. These statistics show that teens are now more aware of the dangers of drugs than before.  

But you might be wondering why teens abuse drugs in the first place. Well, adolescents experiment with drugs for several reasons, including:

  • To experiment – Adolescents are often trying to find new pleasurable experiences, particularly those they perceive as daring or thrilling. Many adolescents experiment with alcohol and/or drugs at one point in their lives.
  • To fit in – Adolescents might use drugs because they fear being rejected by their drug-using peers if they don’t.
  • To feel euphoriaDrugs interact with the brain, leading to feelings of euphoria. The intensity of the euphoria experienced is different for every drug and individual.
  • To feel better – Some adolescents are unhappy and they use drugs to feel better. Teens suffer from physical pain, stress-related disorders, anxiety, and depression, just like adults. According to a study published in February 2019, 2.3 million adolescents aged 12 – 17 suffered at least one major depressive episode in 2017. This number represented 9.4% of the entire U.S. population of that age.
  • To perform better – Teens live in a very competitive society, in which their athletic and academic performances might influence the rest of their lives. Some adolescents use certain drugs in an attempt to enhance or improve their performances.

Are LGBTQ Teens More Likely To Abuse Drugs?

LGBTQ teens are often stigmatized, harassed, or even rejected by their families and peers. The stress brought on by these events might wrongly convince sexual minority teens that using drugs can be an effective coping mechanism.

A study published in 2018 showed that LGBTQ teens are 12% more likely to abuse drugs than their heterosexual peers. LGBTQ youth were also three times more likely to experiment with drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine, methamphetamines, or heroin.

Unfortunately, even experimentation with these drugs can derail an adolescent’s life and negatively influence their future.

How Can You Act?

If you are a teen who abuses drugs or you suspect one of your loved ones is, contact our admission navigators at (888) 679-9254.

The treatment options available will clear out the drugs from the user’s body and will help the user realize that they can enjoy life without drugs.

Call (888) 679-9254 and take control of your life.

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