Whether it’s because of long-established societal beliefs, an over-abundance of cinematic depictions or a mixture of several factors, many people assume that wealth and privilege offer protection from addiction. New research published in Development and Psychopathy, however, indicates the opposite. The study showed that children in elite high schools from affluent neighborhoods may be at an increased drug or alcohol addiction risk as young adults.
The study included more than 500 students from affluent Northeast communities. It began following these students as high school seniors and continued to monitor their drug use through each of their college years and from ages 23-27.
“We found alarmingly high rates of substance abuse among young adults who we initially studied as teenagers,” said Suniya Luthar, author of the study and a professor at Arizona State University, in a press release. “Results showed that among both men and women and across annual assessments, these young adults had substantial elevations, relative to national norms, in frequency of several indicators – drinking to intoxication and use of marijuana, stimulants such as Adderall, cocaine and club drugs such as ecstasy.”
Research uncovered rates of addiction to alcohol and drugs between 19-24 percent among women by age 26, and 23-40 percent among men of the same age. These rates are two-three times higher than the national norm.