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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wealthier Teens More Likely to Drink

It has long been a common misconception that poverty and drug and alcohol abuse go hand and hand. When people think of poverty stricken neighborhoods they often have the idea in their head that in some way poor people are more inclined towards substance abuse. However, new research is pointing in the other direction with wealthier teenagers drinking more than underprivileged teenagers. While there are many cases of teenagers who come from lower socioeconomic families who receive very little guidance and education with regards to drugs and alcohol that end up abusing alcohol, new statistics show us that teenagers who come from more privileged families tend to drink more.

A longitudinal study was conducted in the UK, led by Roberto Melotti of the University of Bristol; the mothers of 5,837 children were surveyed when they were pregnant and then were followed up with the children at age thirteen about their use of alcohol and tobacco. The surveys test subjects were divided up into five income groups and controlling for other socioeconomic factors, they found that teens from the poorest group of families were 22 percent less likely than those in the middle income group to have tried alcohol or had engaged in binge drinking in the past six months. A theory for the findings may be related to the fact that teenagers from wealthier families have more access to alcohol than those teens from poor families. "More advantaged families tend to have healthier behavior," Melotti said. "Our results indicate an example where this is not the case."

Researchers also determined that regardless of socioeconomic status, children whose mothers who have a college degree were 13 to 40 percent less likely to drink than kids whose mother did not. "Drinking at an early age," he said, "has been related to a series of adverse outcomes, including the risk of developing alcohol-use disorders in later life."

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