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Link between high socioeconomic status and U.S. undergraduate substance use

Common perceptions of health sociology would likely include high socioeconomic status (SES) as a factor that lowers illness risk. However, those of high socioeconomic status may actually have higher chances of participating in unhealthy use of drugs and alcohol compared to those of lower status.

A recent study observed marijuana use, frequency of alcohol use, use of numerous substances, and use of substances to disengage from stressors in U.S. undergraduate students. These outcomes were measured using data from over 18,000 undergraduate students who had participated in the Healthy Minds study. Parental education levels and demographic questions were used to estimate SES.

The results showed that high SES undergraduates were more likely than their peers to use marijuana, use multiple substances, consume alcohol frequently, and use alcohol and substances to cope with stress. Race and marital status also played a role in the measured outcomes, and students of Asian descent and married students were the least likely to use alcohol.

Take Away: Undergraduate students of high socioeconomic status are more likely to use marijuana, alcohol, and various substances as well as turn to substances to cope with stress compared to their peers.

Martin, C.C. (2019). High Socioeconomic Status Predicts Substance Use and Alcohol Consumption in U.S. Undergraduates. Substance Use & Misuse. doi.org/10.080/10826084.2018.1559193

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