Articles

The Socioeconomic Impact on Addiction

Feb 24, 2021

Understanding the needs of people in treatment is influenced by many factors, but one not getting as much attention is how addiction appears in different socioeconomic groups. This can be seen as “big picture” thinking to look at it this way, so let’s bring it down to a personal level. It’s about knowing your own risk within your group and how risk factors you’re not aware of may be affecting your ability to get sober and stay in recovery. Today, let’s talk about how a particular socioeconomic status (SES) is connected to addiction risks and barriers to treatment.

Socioeconomic status (SES) can be a significant factor in drug and alcohol use. For people with higher levels of education and income, access to alcohol can be increased by several variables as drinking becomes a routine part of the lifestyle. Those with alcohol use disorders (AUD) become more likely to use illegal drugs or misuse prescription drugs. A barrier to treatment can be seen in the need to avoid harmful publicity related to substance use. A program with strict confidentiality in a private setting can allow high-profile patients to begin recovery without negative consequences to their careers and reputations.

What’s the connection between alcohol abuse and socioeconomic status?

It may be obvious how having more financial resources and security means having more access to alcohol. Obviously, you certainly can afford to drink. But, there are other aspects to working daily in a professional position where money is not an issue. It’s the access to alcohol more often, through activities at work or after-hours and related to work. The frequency of having a few drinks can be high, regardless of when things are going well or when circumstances on the job are challenging. The expectation that drinking is just part of the work culture is another influencer. Picking up a drink in a setting where you and colleagues are celebrating a sale, a deal, or a victory can seem unavoidable.

Does alcohol abuse lead to illicit drug abuse?

Yes, it can. Everyone is different, but substance abusers often find themselves misusing both alcohol and drugs. Sometimes they start with both, and sometimes to build from one to both. Adults who already abuse alcohol are more likely to misuse illegal drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, etc. Also, they are more likely to misuse prescription drugs while living with an alcohol use disorder. Someone in the upper echelon of SES with a long-term drinking problem increases their risk of developing new addictions.

What’s the relationship between socioeconomic status and prescription opioid abuse? 

Overall, opioid abuse tends to show up in groups with lower levels of income and wealth, especially people without higher education degrees. For professionals who have been prescribed opioids for chronic pain, addiction from misuse is still a risk. Be aware of the impact of higher doses and doses taken for a long period. These can lead to opioid addiction in any population group.

Does socioeconomic make treatment more accessible?

For people with higher levels of education and income, the cost of treatment tends to not be a barrier to treatment. Whether the cost gets paid in cash or gets offset by insurance coverage, it’s typically manageable. How SES may become a barrier to treatment is the public perception of addiction. For someone in a high-profile position, the stigma of being labeled as an addict may prevent them from seeking treatment. They may feel it could jeopardize their standing in the industry and their community. They may even consider how it might affect the reputations of their family members.

How does HeadWaters reduce the barriers to treatment?

HeadWaters recognizes the unique nature of a patient in a high-profile position. We are experienced in treating men and women who are standout members in their fields and communities. We recognize the need for confidentiality in their treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. We maintain a program setting that’s private and allows our patients to focus on the goals of recovery without distractions.

HeadWaters at Origins is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 844-439-2837.

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