Characteristics of Transgender Individuals Entering Substance Abuse Treatment

Document Type




Format of Original

7 p.

Publication Date




Source Publication

Addictive Behaviors

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.01.011


Little is known about the needs or characteristics of transgender individuals in substance abuse treatment settings. Transgender (n = 199) and non-transgender (cisgender, n = 13,440) individuals were compared on psychosocial factors related to treatment, health risk behaviors, medical and mental health status and utilization, and substance use behaviors within a database that documented individuals entering substance abuse treatment in San Francisco, CA from 2007 to 2009 using logistic and linear regression analyses (run separately by identified gender). Transgender men (assigned birth sex of female) differed from cisgender men across many psychosocial factors, including having more recent employment, less legal system involvement, greater incidence of living with a substance abuser, and greater family conflict, while transgender women (assigned birth sex of male) were less likely to have minor children than cisgender women. Transgender women reported greater needle use, and HIV testing rates were greater among transgender women. Transgender men and women reported higher rates of physical health problems, mental health diagnoses, and psychiatric medications, but there were no differences in service utilization. There were no differences in substance use behaviors except that transgender women were more likely to endorse primary methamphetamine use. Transgender individuals evidence unique strengths and challenges that could inform targeted services in substance abuse treatment.


Addictive Behaviors, Vol. 39, No. 5 (May 2014): 969-975. DOI.