Affluent students more vulnerable to addictions: Study

Students who come from wealthier backgrounds may be more vulnerable to drug and alcohol problems than their peers, according to a new study.

Researchers in the United States found that by age 26, young adults in the upper middle class have a 2-3 times greater chance of being diagnosed with drug or alcohol addictions than the national rates. The study points to an increased risk of substance abuse at the high end of the socioeconomic spectrum.

Lead study author Saniya Luthar, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University, told LiveScience that these are “alarming” rates of addiction. And, contrary to popular believe, it dispels the myth that addition is a problem that affects mostly those in lower-income areas.

The study found higher rates of drinking to the point of intoxication smoking marijuana in wealthier students than among the public.

The most alarming trend was that by age 26, lifetime rates of addiction to drugs or alcohol were 19-24 percent among women and 23 to 40 percent among men from families with a higher socio-economic status – approximately three times higher than the national average for women and two times higher for men.

Why the higher rates of addiction? Luthar told the website that she suspects it is academic pressure, financial means to gain fake IDs and a group culture that promotes drug and alcohol abuse. She also surmised that it may be that parents of high-achieving students do not take drug or alcohol use seriously because the kids are still performing well academically.

How can parents prevent this? Some recommendations include:

  • Putting more emphasis on minimizing drug and alcohol use early on
  • Communicating openly with teenagers about the risks associated with drug and alcohol use
  • Helping students maintain a realistic perspective on their academic achievements

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