Rich Kids and Drugs: What the Wealthy Need to Know

It’s typical for people to assume that drug and alcohol abuse is more common among people who are poor and uneducated. After all, it’s a known fact that people often turn to drugs and alcohol to numb emotional pain and “forget” about trauma in their past, which often occurs in households plagued by poverty.

The reason poverty can be connected to substance abuse is it can be stressful, so poor people can turn to drugs and alcohol to avoid feeling. Then, drugs and alcohol can contribute to criminal behavior, domestic violence, and sexual assault; it’s a vicious cycle.

As it turns out, rich kids can be more vulnerable to substance abuse than poorer teens, according to an article published in Live Science. If you’re a person of high net worth, you may want to read on to learn more, even if you don’t have teenagers of your own.

Wealth and Drug Addiction

If you’re wealthy and you saw kids partying with drugs and alcohol in high school and college, you may already have a few ideas about why wealth is linked to drug and alcohol problems.

According to Live Science: “Researchers found that by age 26, upper-middle-class young adults’ lifetime chances of being diagnosed with an addiction to drugs were two to three times higher, on average, than the national rates for men and women of the same age.” The research findings were published in the journal, Development and Psychopathology, on May 31, 2017.

It’s a common perception that addiction mostly affects the lower class, but the study found that there is a significant risk of drug and alcohol problems among children who have wealthy parents. This isn’t the only study that had such findings. In 2009, another study found that children from upper-middle-class backgrounds were at risk of substance misuse, and several other studies found that a lot of teens from wealthy families smoked marijuana and engaged in binge drinking.

What the study found:

  • Wealthy students had higher rates of drinking until intoxicated.
  • Wealthy students had higher rates of pot smoking.
  • Among wealthy families, there were high rates of cocaine and ecstasy use in early adulthood.
  • By age 26, lifetime substance abuse addictions among women who grew up wealthy were 19 to 24% ad 23 to 40% for men from wealthy families. For women, those rates were three times the national average, and they were two times the national average for men.

What are some of the reasons why wealthy kids are developing drug and alcohol problems at high rates? The reasons included academic pressure, the financial means to easily obtain or gain access to drugs and alcohol, and a peer group where drugs and alcohol are expected at parties.

These substance abuse problems don’t necessarily go away because a wealthy kid turns 25 or 30; they can extend well into adulthood and be lifelong problems. As such, substance abuse can play a role in domestic violence, adultery, wasteful dissipation of marital assets (on drugs and alcohol, etc.), and other issues that can unravel a marriage.

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