Emerson Cheney has survived drug addiction, an abusive relationship, years of cutting and burning himself, and multiple suicide attempts. Now a student at Tunxis Community College, Cheney, 22, recalls how he struggled as a teenager with rejection by friends, school administrators and even doctors, after he came out as transgender. Advocates for LGBT youth say that Cheney’s story is all too common—rejection often pushes young people to risky behaviors that result in health challenges. For LGBT youth, finding health care professionals who can fully address their medical and psychological needs at a critical time in their psychosocial development can be difficult. Several recent studies have highlighted discrimination and mistreatment of sexual and gender minority individuals seeking health care. In Connecticut, a 2008 study that surveyed pediatricians to examine health barriers among LGBT adolescents found that 31 percent of doctors expressed reservations about discussing sexual orientation or gender with patients.
Rates of heavy drinking in Connecticut spiked 21.3 percent between 2005 and 2012, while binge-drinking rates rose nearly 14 percent, with the largest increases among women drinkers, a new report shows. The increases put Connecticut’s drinking rates above the national average, with survey data from some counties showing that more than one in five adults are binge drinkers — defined as consuming more than four drinks a day for women and five for men on at least one occasion in the past 30 days. Heavy drinking and binge drinking rates were highest in Litchfield and Middlesex counties and lowest in New Haven and Hartford counties. All of the state’s counties exceeded the national rate for any alcohol consumption – 65.3 percent of adults statewide, compared to the national rate of 56 percent. While Connecticut had higher-than-average rates in 2012, so did a number of other states in the Northwest, Midwest, and New England.
Although smoking rates in Connecticut decreased between 1996 and 2012, striking disparities persist among counties, according to new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. The widest gap existed between Windham County, a rural area with the state’s highest overall smoking rate (15.6 percent), and Fairfield County, one of the wealthiest regions in the country, which had the state’s lowest smoking rate (9.5 percent). About twelve percent of the state’s population smoked cigarettes in 2012. “You’ll find lots of variations among counties even within small states like Connecticut that have successfully lowered smoking rates compared to other states in the nation,” said Ali Mokdad, professor of global health at IHME and one of the study’s authors. The IHME study looked at smoking prevalence – the percentage of the population that smokes – between 1996 and 2012.