Affluence & Teen Use of Alcohol and Drugs

By: Bradley P. Koffel

The ease of availability of drugs and alcohol in America is chronic. Teens of affluent families face a paradox of problems. As a result of this affluence (upper middle class and upper class), counselors and teachers tend to be more reluctant to bring rumored problems to the attention of parents. Affluent parents are generally more educated and can unwittingly intimidate the very people who are teaching and coaching their kids. As a result, these parents tend to be the last to know of problems.

Also, family image is very important to these families. Embarrassment, shame, and humiliation have a more pronounced impact if a teen strays into alcohol or drug problems. These parents may be reluctant to ask their professional friends for assistance and "wait it out".

Third, these parents are busy with their careers, civic obligations, and other social networking events that reduce their personal time in front of their teens. Bottom line - they are not at home as often as other parents and subtle warning signs may be missed.

Fourth, the more affluent families will have health insurance and obtaining prescriptions is very easy and affordable. Affluent families medicine cabinets are filled with drugs teens will abuse (anti-anxiety drugs, sleeping pills, and pain pills).

Fifth, ADD / ADHD teens will be prescribed Ritalin, Stratera, Concerta which are now known as "kiddie coke". These drugs, when crushed and snorted, produce cocaine like effects.

Also, the "over-parenting" style of more affluent communities promotes unhealthy and risky decision-making by kids. Unprecedented materialism in today's tweens, teens, and young adults provides a siren call to our young people to be motivated by empty, extrinsic "things" as opposed to sound, moral judgment.

All of these factors lead many of America's more affluent teens and young adults into a life of naive temptation, elevated rebelliousness borne of frustration, stealth depression, earlier experimentation of substances, peer-encouraged violence, and a loss of parental control in the home.