Troubling relationship between affluence and substance abuse

09-13-2017 Posted in Addiction, Substance Abuse

Since human beings are known to hold certain popular beliefs, they often indulge in stereotyping the class of people who fall victim to alcohol or drug addiction. Until recently, people generally held prejudiced notions that drug and alcohol addiction affected those belonging to the poor socioeconomic strata. However, some recent studies have highlighted that addiction does not discriminate between rich and poor, young and old, etc.

Increasingly, significant problems are cropping up at the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum. A large number of youngsters belonging to well-to-do families with high-achieving parents and schooling from distinguished schools are falling prey to substance abuse. This has once again brought under the spotlight the troublesome relationship between affluence and substance-seeking tendencies.

Despite having a plethora of diversified extracurricular opportunities, high test scores, etc., such children also appear to be in trouble in terms of maladjustment, errant behavior, misdemeanor and misconduct. Due to such behavioral problems and other factors, many of them tend to display high levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms, alcohol use, binge drinking, substance use, marijuana use, etc.

Fundamental changes between adolescence and adulthood

A general view about the children born with a silver spoon is that they have led an overly protective life to bear the stresses and strains of life. Moreover, money becomes a shock absorber to damp any kind of shock impulses experienced due to distress. The access to high disposable income also plays a crucial role in digressing youngsters toward the wrong path.

The research from Arizona State University, led by Suniya Luthar, a foundation professor of psychology at Arizona State University and a professor emerita at Columbia University’s Teachers College, found alarmingly high elevation rates of substance abuse among young adults who were initially studied by them as teenagers. Compared to the rates at the national level, these youngsters witnessed a substantial increase.

The study was conducted on two groups of students from affluent communities in the Northeast United States. While one group of students was assessed annually during the entire four college years, another group of students were examined between the ages 23 and 27.

Higher addiction rate – a signal of danger

While the rates of drug and alcohol addiction were found to be 19 to 24 percent in women in the older group by the time they turned 26 years, it ranged from 23 to 40 percent among men in the same age group. Both these addiction rates were three and two times the national average, respectively.

Among the younger group, the rates of addiction were found to be 11 to 16 percent among women by the time they turned 22 years and 19 to 27 percent among men. In this case, the former rate was close to the national norms but the latter was two times more than the national average.

Prestige, power and privilege – at what price?

This complex problem needs to be sorted at the multiple levels. Firstly, children and their parents need to be educated on how drug use affects their entire future and how they can become susceptible to addiction. Secondly, enormous pressure exerted over children by their parents, caregivers and peers to get into the top universities needs to be reduced. These universities could implement a lottery system to eliminate the competitive pressure on the children. They can be motivated by sharing information about the successful role models who did not go to these highly desired universities. Thirdly, there is a need for further research to find solutions that can safeguard youngsters from the problem of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

If you or your loved one is afflicted with drug addiction, it is imperative to seek professional help. The 24/7 Drug Addiction Helpline assists in accessing the best inpatient drug abuse treatment centers in the U.S. that specialize in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-403-5607 or chat online with our medical advisers to know more about the outpatient drug abuse treatment centers.