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Substance Abuse and Socio-Economic Factors

Although alcoholism and addiction are clinical diseases that can affect any person from any race, occupation or location, there are a number of social and economic factors that statistically may place certain groups of people at higher risk of addiction than others. While these statistics can be difficult to fully understand because of the fact that different people abuse substances for different reasons, they do serve to tell us who is at most risk of developing an addiction based upon these socio-economic factors.

According to a report and research by the Office of Applied Studies:

“We also show that, regardless of racial/ethnic subgroup, relatively high prevalences of illicit drug use are found among individuals who reside in the West; reside in metropolitan areas with populations greater than 1 million; would use English rather than Spanish in the NHSDA interview; lack health insurance coverage; are unemployed; have 9 to 11 years of schooling; or have never been married. Moreover, regardless of racial/ethnic subgroup, adolescents who dropped out of school or who reside in households with fewer than two biological parents have relatively high prevalences of past-year use of cigarettes, alcohol, and illicit drugs . . .” (1)

This particular study was careful to note that these results were not attributable to race or ethnicity, but instead were attributed to environmental and social aspects. This coincides with the general theory in the addiction and alcoholism industry that addiction knows no racial or ethnic barriers and instead afflicts people based upon their particular circumstances and how the individual copes with them. Overall, the groups of people who are most at risk of turning to drugs or alcohol in order to deal with life’s daily stress are those who are undereducated, unemployed and disadvantaged.

However, the same study also reported that in some cases ethnicity does have very specific implications. For instance, incidences of substance abuse were low among Asian/Pacific Islanders, average among Hispanics, and high among Native Americans when compared to the general US population. (1) Therefore it seems logical to conclude that these ethnic groups have corresponding rates of unemployment, lack of education and other disadvantaged factors, but this is not always the case. This solidifies the idea that addiction and alcoholism is a very individual problem, but one that affects large sections of related and unrelated subgroups of people.

So just as substance abuse, addiction and alcoholism can occur in any person regardless of socio-economic factors, treatment for addiction and alcohol rehab must address these issues on an individual basis. It wouldn’t make sense to treat someone based upon their ethnicity or class, and likewise it doesn’t make sense to assume that either could be attributed to the root cause of the disease of addiction in the first place. Regardless of what religion, class, geographic location or background you come from, the options to treat addiction are the same:

  • Inpatient Treatment
  • Outpatient Treatment
  • Day/Night Programs
  • Interventions
  • Therapy

No matter who you are, if you have a drug or drinking problem you need help to stop, and we’re here to provide that help. Call us 24 hours per day for a free, confidential consultation that can help to guide you in the right direction with no obligation. You can also use our website to request a call back, check your insurance or ask a question. Take action right now – why wait any longer?

(1) Office of Applied Studies, US Department of Health and Human Services Prevalence of Substance Use Among Racial and Ethnic Subgroups in the US May 19, 2008

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More