Page last updated: Jun 2019

High socioeconomic status predicts substance use and alcohol consumption in U.S. undergraduates

In health sociology, the prevailing consensus is that higher socioeconomic status (SES) lowers illness risk. This model neglects the fact that unhealthful consumption patterns may covary with affluence. A study examined patterns of drugs and alcohol consumption among affluent US college students.

The paper published in the Journal Substance Use and Misuse, tests the hypothesis that undergraduate students from high-SES households have higher rates and levels of drug and alcohol consumption than their peers.

The study used self-report data from 18,611 18- to 24-year-old undergraduates across 23 public and private U.S. institutions from the Healthy Minds 2016 dataset.

High-SES undergraduates were found to be more likely than peers to use marijuana, choose varied drugs, consume alcohol frequently, and use alcohol and substances to cope with stress. The first three results were robust after controlling for gender, race, residence type, and relationship status. Marital status and race were stronger predictors than SES. Asians and married students were the least likely to use alcohol and drugs.

Findings supported the main hypotheses, and the effects were robust to controls. Consumption of illicit drugs and alcohol may be one hitherto neglected reason for downward mobility among economically privileged college students.

Source: High Socioeconomic Status Predicts Substance Use and Alcohol Consumption in U.S. Undergraduates. Chris C. Martin Substance Use & Misuse. Volume 54, 2019 - Issue 6, pages 1035-1043, published online: 15 Feb 2019.

doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2018.155919

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