Do Socioeconomic Factors Affect Teen Drug Use
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When looking at the prevalence of teen drug use, no one group is immune from being at risk for developing a substance abuse disorder. Adolescents living anywhere and in any environment are at risk for various reasons. Certain socioeconomic factors that are beyond a teen’s control may put them at greater risk for using certain substances.

As we explore the complexity of socioeconomic status and youth substance use, we’ll share things that both parents and teens can do to reduce drug use and how Ember Recovery can help those battling addiction.

Statistics on Socioeconomic Factors and Teen Drug Use

There have been many studies done looking at how a teen’s socioeconomic status does or does not impact the likelihood that they will start using drugs or alcohol. While there is no definitive socioeconomic factor that will lead a teen down a path to addiction, researchers have found there are some factors that can make teens more likely to turn to substances.

Breaking Down the Statistics

  • One study found that teens whose parents completed a higher education level and have a higher household income were more likely to engage in heavy drinking compared to their peers from lower-income homes [1].
  • Research from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that teens from higher-income families were slightly more likely to consume alcohol than those from lower-income homes. The same study found no significant differences when it comes to marijuana use and any socioeconomic status. Those numbers were fairly equal [2].
  • Parental education may also impact a teen’s risk of using drugs such as cocaine. One study found that a higher level of parental education can result in a higher rate of cocaine use, as well as binge drinking [3].
  • When it comes to smoking, using nicotine has been a greater risk for children whose families may have a lower socioeconomic status than some of their peers [1].
  • Teens from families with lower socioeconomic status may live in environments where there is a higher level of drugs available, leading them to experiment [4].

While it is essential to consider these studies, it is crucial to remember that all teens can be at risk for substance use and addiction, regardless of their socioeconomic status. All teens should be treated equally and given the same attention when a problem arises. Seeking treatment as soon as possible is critical for teens to stop using substances and learn how to live a sober life.

High-Risk Factors That Can Influence Teen Drug & Alcohol Use

When looking at whether socioeconomic factors can influence teen drug and alcohol use, there are several things to consider.


Teens from a higher socioeconomic background may have more extra money to spend on alcohol or drugs or even fake IDs to obtain some of these substances. The disposable income they have access to may make them more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol.

Academic Pressures

If students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds attend private and rigorous schools, they may feel the pressure of academic performance more than some of their peers. This pressure can lead them down a path of drugs and alcohol to deal with the competition of being the best.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is a constant for all teens, regardless of socioeconomic background. It can be a significant contributing factor for all teens who turn to a substance [5].

Less Parental Supervision

Whether teens are from affluent homes where their parents are working all the time or from lower-income homes where parents are working multiple jobs, the lack of parental supervision can put teens at risk for drug and alcohol use. If teens are left alone for large amounts of time, they may be more likely to try these substances or spend time with people who are.

What Parents & Teens Can Do to Reduce Teen Drug Use

Parents can be proactive when it comes to reducing their teen’s chance of using drugs or alcohol by taking these steps:

Lowering Academic Pressure

While all parents want their children to do well in school, putting too much pressure on them can lead them to try a substance to relax. Encourage them to do well without putting extreme expectations.

Be Present

Being present for your teen physically and emotionally can dramatically impact your teen’s chance of using a substance. If your teen knows you are there for them and feels comfortable coming to you, they may find themselves at a lower risk for trying a substance.

Don’t Treat Alcohol Use Lightly

Studies have shown that teens are more likely to use substances if their parents allow it and do not perceive it as risky behavior [6]. As a parent, don’t allow your teen to drink at home or use substances. If you discover they are, make them face the consequences. This will let them know that this behavior is not allowed and can be dangerous.

While there are things that parents can do to reduce teen drug use, there are steps teens can take themselves:

  • Don’t spend time with people who do drugs and alcohol
  • Resist peer pressure
  • Find activities and hobbies to stay occupied and prevent boredom
  • Talk to a parent or trusted adult
  • Exercise, meditate, or journal to help relax

Parents and teens can work together to prevent teen drug use and alcohol use, regardless of socioeconomic status, giving teens a greater chance of living sober and productive lives.

Get Help for Teen Drug Use at Ember Recovery

If your teen is battling a substance abuse disorder, let Ember Recovery help. We teach teens from all walks of life how to live without relying on drugs and alcohol and how to remain sober. Our treatment programs focus on the specific challenges that teens face when they have a drug or alcohol problem. Call us today to learn more about the treatment programs at Ember Recovery and how we can help your teen get on the path to sobriety.