Addiction And The Transgender Community: Where To Get Help

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on September 2, 2022

Trans-inclusive rehab centers offer treatment that is tailored to the needs and unique experiences of the transgender community. Gender separation in treatment, however, can be a source of stress for trans people, and how this is handled by a rehab center can vary.

Transgender Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a chronic disease that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender identity, race, or sexual orientation. But, research shows, the transgender community is at an elevated risk.

Drugs can be used as a way to cope with gender dysphoria, lack of acceptance, discrimination, stigma, and other stressors commonly experienced by trans people.

Unfortunately, concerns about discrimination, stigma, and a lack of acceptance by treatment staff and other clients can be a barrier to treatment for people who are transgender.

This concern may be especially heightened when it comes to addiction treatment centers that separate clients by gender.

Do Gender-Separate Rehab Programs Accept Transgender Clients?

An increasing number of rehab centers in the United States offer LGBTQ+ friendly rehab, which serves to offer a healing environment for people with addiction that is fully inclusive.

Trans-inclusive care may be offered by, for example:

Still, rules surrounding gender separation in rehab centers can differ from one drug addiction treatment center to the next. And it’s understandable for this to be a concern of trans clients.

A rehab center may offer gender-specific programs, for instance, or offer gender-separate group sessions.

What Are Common Barriers To Addiction Treatment For Trans Clients?

Studies show there are a number of common structural barriers faced by transgender people with substance use disorder who are either considering, or who have sought treatment.

Common barriers to addiction treatment for transgender people can include:

  • lack of access to gender-affirming care in drug rehab
  • gender–separate rehab programs/treatment services
  • lack of LGBTQ-specific treatment professionals on staff
  • concerns about exposure to stigma or discrimination
  • cultural incompetence among treatment staff and administrators

The LGBTQ community is also more likely to have financial barriers to drug or alcohol addiction treatment, and to lack access to health insurance to help pay for treatment.

All of these barriers combined — expectations of stigma, and financial barriers – can make the treatment landscape more inaccessible for trans people compared to the general population.

Are There Transgender Drug Rehab Programs?

There are treatment centers in the U.S. that specialize in offering LGBTQ+ specific programs for addiction, mental health disorders, and co-occurring disorders.

There are also drug abuse treatment programs that, although not LGBTQ+ specific, do offer addiction treatment for transgender clients in an inclusive treatment environment.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a federal health agency, classifies the degree of LGBTQ+ sensitivity offered by rehabs as follows:

  • anti-LGBTQ (the least accepting/unaccepting)
  • traditional treatment (neutral)
  • LGBTQ-naive
  • LGBTQ-tolerant
  • LGBTQ-sensitive
  • LGBTQ-affirming (the most tailored to the specific needs of the LGBT community)

What Accommodations Are Available For Trans People In Addiction Treatment?

Treatment centers that offer LGBTQ+ affirming care may offer trans-specific treatments, or other accommodations for trans clients.

This is meant to create a treatment environment that can adequately support transgender clients and address the unique challenges of addiction and recovery in this community.

Trans-specific treatments/inclusionary practices may include:

  • trans-affirming groups/workshops
  • LGBTQ+ treatment staff
  • access to gender-affirming treatment
  • treatment modalities shown to be more effective for trans clients
  • gender-neutral bathrooms

Why Is Trans-Specific Treatment Important?

Transgender people often face additional barriers to care. But they can also face unique challenges in their day-to-day life that can require a specialized treatment approach.

Transgender people, for instance, experience disproportionate rates of:

  • trauma
  • economic insecurity
  • discrimination
  • abuse
  • dysphoria
  • mental health issues
  • dual diagnosis
  • homelessness
  • violence
  • substance abuse

Addressing these issues through an inclusive lens can be critical for a person’s healing process, particularly for a community that is at an elevated risk for addiction and relapse.

What Are Common Drugs Of Abuse For Transgender People?

Research on the substance use behaviors of gender minorities and sexual minorities in the U.S. show there are some substances that are more commonly used by trans people.

Common substances of abuse include:

Over the course of the U.S. opioid epidemic, prescription opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin, as well as other prescription drugs, have also become common substances of abuse.

Where Can I Find Trans-Inclusive Treatment For Addiction?

At, we offer a helpline and online contact options in order to connect people with a treatment program that’s right for them, or a loved one.

That includes trans-inclusive treatment programs in the U.S. for people who are transgender, nonbinary, or have a friend, family member, or other loved one who is.

Our treatment specialists can help you by:

  • verifying your insurance
  • helping you determine which treatment program is right for you
  • identifying nearby treatment programs that offer trans-inclusive care
  • connecting you with a trans-inclusive treatment center

Call To Find A Trans-Friendly Rehab Program Today

If you’re looking for drug or alcohol abuse treatment for yourself or a loved one who is transgender, one of our treatment specialists may be able to help.

Call our hotline today to learn more about trans-inclusive rehab, or to find a treatment program at a treatment facility near you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on September 2, 2022


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