Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Affluence increases risk for young adult substance abuse

According to a study published in the August 2010 edition of Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy, adolescents who come from higher socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds, as measured by parental education and household income in adolescence, have higher rates of substance use, particularly binge drinking, marijuana use and cocaine use, in early adulthood.

The study concludes by saying: As much of the previous scientific literature often focuses on substance abuse in lower SES populations, it is possible that teachers and school administrators in wealthier schools may be less likely to recognize the need for substance abuse treatment programs, if the current policy focus is on lower SES populations. Likewise, administrators of drug abuse prevention programs may be less likely to focus their efforts in higher-income areas.

This study offers evidence that wealthier students may be at risk for substance use problems in the future, particularly for binge drinking, marijuana and cocaine use. As previous evidence shows that students with more spending money might be more likely to engage in substance use into adulthood, access to allowances and other forms of spending money may be issues that parents can address if they are concerned with the possibility of substance abuse among their children. School administrators seeking to identify substance use education policies in their schools can find a listing of programs shown to be effective on the website for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Examining the substance abuse problems facing students with higher SES can help teachers, school administrators, and parents recognize the needs that may be present in their schools and communities, and the need for programs to effectively address substance use.

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