It’s seemingly always been of those bedrock mainstream assumptions: adolescents and adults in low-income families are more at risk for “substance use” than kids and parents from more privileged backgrounds.
The suburbs, in this fictional view of reality (did anybody ever really buy it?), were an oasis of safety from the perils of the inner city, where “nice kids” wouldn’t be exposed to “those kinds of things.”
But according to a new study, higher parental education is associated with higher rates of marijuana use, binge drinking, and cocaine use in early adulthood. Higher parental income, as opposed to education, is associated with higher rates of marijuana use and binge drinking, but interestingly, not with higher cocaine usage.
As long as marijuana use was something that was happening “over there,” it was a lot less threatening to suburbanites who assumed that big-ass mortgage was buying them some sort of “security” to go with that boring-ass neighborhood.
It was supposedly those poor kids, those “kids at risk,” that were “getting into drugs.”
Funny how science often just refuses to cooperate with our prejudices, isn’t it?
“Higher parental income is associated with higher rates of binge drinking and marijuana use,” the study concludes.
Somewhat surprisingly, though, college attendance isn’t associated with increased pot or alcohol use. (Wonder what would have happened if they’d factored in fraternity membership?)
“Results are not sensitive to the inclusion of college attendance by young adulthood as a sensitivity analysis,” study author Jennifer Humensky concludes.
According to the study, since much of the previous literature has focused on kids of lower socioeconomic status, “it is possible that teachers, parents, and school administrators in wealthier schools may not perceive as great a need to address substance abuse treatment in their schools.”
The study analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (AddHealth), a longitudinal, nationally-representative survey of secondary school students in the United States.
Logistic regression models were analyzed examining the relationship between adolescent socioeconomic status (measure by parental education and income) and substance use in adulthood, controlling for substance use in adolescence and other covariates.