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Transgender college freshmen likely to drink more, finds study

Rejection and isolation are common to the transgender community whether in private or social life. For them, every day is a struggle to live against the norms of the society and carve an identity of their own. In school and university campuses, transgender students experience problems including deprivation of access to health care and education, and problems associated with sex-segregated facilities.

Such behavior meted out to these students has been associated with many mental health problems. A recent study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research in March 2017, reported that transgender college freshmen were more likely to drink heavily and experience aftermaths such as academic problems, memory blackouts, and arguments or physical fights. 

Problems faced by transgender college freshmen

The study conducted among 422,000 college freshmen found a higher likelihood of experiencing negative outcomes of drinking in 989 students identified as transgender. It was found that these students were at higher risk (as compared to their cisgender peers) of drinking-induced memory blackouts, academic difficulties, poor physical and mental health, and physical injuries. In addition, the vulnerability of these transgender college freshmen for overconsuming alcohol was governed by relationship troubles, stress reduction and sedating effects of alcohol as the driving factors.

Scott Swartzwelder, senior author of the survey and professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke University School of Medicine emphasized the urgency to address the matter by saying that those working with the vulnerable group should assess the situation more closely to understand that these students are drinking at dangerously higher levels. He explained a blackout as a serious neurological event that occurs due to impairment of parts of the brain that encode new memory. A college student losing his memory is certainly not desirable.

 Major findings of the study

The respondents participated in a web-based questionnaire through the alcohol abuse prevention program called AlcoholEdu for College. Given below are some of the key findings of the survey:

  • Over 64 percent students admitted to consuming at least one alcoholic drink in the last year. Furthermore, nearly 36 percent transgender students reported heavy drinking to a level where they lost the account of where they were or what they did. They admitted to having exhibited such a behavior at least once in the previous two weeks in comparison to 25 percent cisgender students exhibiting the same behavior.
  • Around 26 percent transgender students reported passing out after consuming alcohol during the previous two weeks while only 13 percent cisgender students experienced the same.
  • The prevalence of driving after consuming five or more drinks was found to be 21 percent in transgender students while it was only 4 percent in cisgender students.
  • Moreover, 19 percent of transgender students against four percent cisgender students admitted to having encountered trouble with authorities due to their drinking behavior.
  • About 21 percent transgender students deliberately vomited in order to drink more while 5 percent cisgender students did the same.
  • The percentage of transgender students being victims of sexual abuse in the previous two weeks was 19 while 8 percent of cisgender students reported the same.

The results present a clear picture of the challenges faced by transgender people in the campuses, which may make them vulnerable to alcohol abuse and the associated negative consequences. The study warrants effective strategies from college administrators, clinicians and co-workers who can counsel these students and provide them a facilitating environment for recovery.

Helping people overcome substance abuse

Alcohol abuse is a serious problem with detrimental effects on both physical and mental health. It is advisable to seek professional help to get rid of the addictive habit at the earliest before it turns into a fatal encounter.  The Texas Substance Abuse Helpline offers help to people battling substance abuse. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 866-971-2658 for information on the finest substance abuse rehab clinic in Texas. Chat online with experts to get connected to one of the best substance abuse treatment centers in Texas now.