Substance abuse knows no socioeconomic boundaries. It can affect those living in high-class, wealthier areas just as it can affect those living in lower-class neighborhoods. A common misconception is that drug use is more likely in what one might consider “rough” areas. The idea that people with less money are more likely to do drugs and become addicted to substances is a misconception.
Addiction was once considered to be a disease that only impacted the weak-minded or those who lacked self-control. It was thought to be something that you would only see in impoverished neighborhoods where people were less educated and desperate.
The media often gives this impression, even in today’s society. You often see addicted individuals portrayed as struggling in poor living conditions, sometimes in run-down government housing, or even homeless. While this may sometimes be the case, addiction is just as likely to occur in middle or even high-class neighborhoods where people hold well-paying jobs and are highly educated.
Let’s consider the reasons people from various neighborhoods may seek out drugs or alcohol. It can be common for those of lower economic status to be struggling financially. Financial difficulties are known to be one of the leading causes of stress, which creates a natural urge to relieve this negative sensation. People in this situation may seek out substances to relieve the pressure and stressors they are feeling and find a temporary escape.
Unemployment and addiction have been shown to correlate in some cases. As mentioned, the stress of unemployment can lead to substance abuse. This leads to less money in an already likely tight situation, which produces more stress and results in more substance use. On the other hand, addiction often results in poor performance at work, which makes maintaining a job difficult. This becomes an endless cycle that is difficult to break.
While well-paying, stable employment can reduce the risk of substance abuse, it certainly does not disqualify it. Those of middle or high socioeconomic status can have different reasons for using substances. For example, having more money can mean having more accessibility to drugs. Depending on the substance, drugs can be very expensive, especially if someone is a habitual user. Those with higher incomes can more easily access drugs than those who may have to finagle the funds.
Middle-class people are most likely to spend their time with others of similar socioeconomic status. This means they are surrounded by others who have similar resources and accessibility, making initial and repeated exposure to substances more likely.
Just as reasons for seeking substances and ultimately developing an addiction can differ between low- and middle-class individuals, so can the substances. Studies have shown that when it comes to alcohol consumption, a much higher percentage of middle- to upper-class people with higher incomes and college degrees drink alcohol than those in a lower socioeconomic class. As reported in a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, “Alcohol use, heavy episodic drinking, and marijuana use were all more prevalent among young adults raised in households with greater resources.”
Opioids can also be more prominent in middle-class neighborhoods, as healthcare is often more accessible, meaning prescription drugs are as well. In a study about opioids in white neighborhoods published in the American Journal of Public Health, authors Helena Hansen, MD, Ph.D. and Julie Netherland, Ph.D. state, “In the United States, where insurance coverage and access to physicians are racially stratified, opioid prescriptions disproportionately went to White patients, whereas non-White patients, even those with access to a physician, were less likely to be prescribed opioids, which increased racial differences in opioid use.”
Despite what you may see in the media, substance use and addiction affect all racial, socioeconomic, and geographical groups. It can be easy to assume that addiction could never happen in your neighborhood or at your school. However, this is not the case. It is important to consider not only the prevalence of addiction in various neighborhoods but the accessibility members of these different socioeconomic classes may have to treatment programs. Someone battling addiction with middle-class income and good resources is much more likely to be able to receive treatment. While this is a privilege, they may be more likely to relapse knowing treatment will be accessible again when they are ready, thus, leading to more drug use among middle-class individuals.
Understanding that substance use can affect people from all neighborhoods – of all races and ages – is important. Never assume someone is exempt from experiencing addiction because of where they live or how much money they make.
The misconception that substance abuse only impacts those living in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods is still widely believed. The truth is, middle-class people with blue-collar jobs and families can be just as likely to be impacted by drug or alcohol addiction. Motives for use can vary based upon lifestyle or needs being met. Substances most prevalent can also vary between neighborhoods. The bottom line, however, is that anyone can fall victim to addiction. At Enlightened Solutions, we provide the highest quality of care and work with most insurance providers in the U.S. to provide the best possible coverage and minimize your out-of-pocket expenses. We aim to make treatment accessible to anyone in need. Let us help you regain control of your life and begin your journey to recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.
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