Introduction: Transgender (trans) people experience stressors related to their minority status which have been associated with increased rates of psychoactive substance use and related harm. Despite this, there is a paucity of evidence relating to the treatment needs of trans people who use psychoactive substances, beyond a small body of literature describing a culture of transphobic hostility in general substance misuse services. This paper aims to describe and compare psychoactive substance misuse help-seeking among trans and cisgender (cis) participants from a large multi-national cross-sectional survey. Methods: Over 180,000 participants, recruited from the world's largest annual survey of drug use - the Global Drug Survey - during 2018 and 2019, reported use of a range of psychoactive substances in the preceding 12 months. Five gender groups (118,157 cis men, 64,319 cis women, 369 trans men, 353 trans women and 1857 non-binary people) were compared on items relating to the desire to use less psychoactive substances and the need to seek help to achieve this. Results: Trans respondents (n = 1710) to GDS 2018 were significantly more likely to report use of illicit substances (OR = 1.66–2.93) and dependence on cannabis (OR = 2.39) and alcohol (OR = 3.28). In the combined GDS 2018 and 2019 dataset, there were no significant differences between trans (n = 2579) and cis (n = 182,476) participants on the desire to reduce substance use. However, among those who did report wanting to use less, trans participants were more likely to want help to achieve this. Conclusion: Trans respondents reported a greater need for help with reducing substance use than cis respondents. Given the deficit of specialist services for psychoactive substance users who are trans, there is a need for a more thorough understanding of the barriers and facilitators to their engagement in general substance misuse services. In the interim, substance misuse service providers require education about gender minority status to help meet the needs of trans clients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-91
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Early online date3 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


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