Higher Socioeconomic Status May Lead To Early Adult Drug Problems
Tags: AddHealth Adolescents Alcohol binge drinking cocaine use drug use drug use prevention illicit drugs marijuana use socioeconomic status
This recent University of Chicago study looked at the relationship between the socioeconomic status (SES) of adolescents and their substance use in early adulthood. Much of the earlier research in this area focused on substance abuse in lower SES populations. However, growing evidence shows that teens from high SES backgrounds are also at high risk. This study analyzed the relationship between adolescent SES (measured by parental education and income) and their adult substance use. The data came from The National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (AddHealth) a nationally representative study originally designed to examine how social contexts (such as families, friends, peers, schools, neighborhoods, and communities) influence teens’ health and risk behaviors. The survey is now also examining how health changes over the course of early adulthood. The objective of this particular study was to see if wealthier adolescents are more likely than those from a lower SES to engage in substance use in early adulthood.
This analysis found that higher parental education is associated with higher rates of binge drinking and marijuana and cocaine use in early adulthood. Also, it found that higher parental income was associated with binge drinking and marijuana use. No significant results were seen for crystal meth or other drug use. The results were consistent for white non-Hispanics but not for non-whites perhaps because of the smaller sample size of non-whites. The study findings offer evidence that wealthier students may be at risk for substance use problems in the future. The authors speculate that this can inform teachers, parents, school administrators, and program officials of the need for addressing drug abuse prevention in this population of students.
The study also suggests that students with more spending money might be more likely to engage in substance use. Thus, closer monitoring of allowances and other forms of spending money might be appropriate for parents concerned about an adolescent’s possible substance use.
(Humensky, JL: Are adolescents with high socioeconomic status more likely to engage in alcohol and illicit drug use in early childhood? Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy (2010) 5:19)