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Study Finds Rich Kids More Likely to Use Drugs Than Poor


Rich kids from Alameda and Contra Costa counties in California were more likely to use alcohol and other drugs than their peers from poor communities, according to data from California's Healthy Kids Survey.

The Contra Costa Times reported Feb. 19 that disposable income, disconnected families, and pressure to succeed all contribute to drug use among upscale youth, adding that parents in these communities add to the problem by denying that it occurs. “Perfection is very, very valued in affluent communities,” noted Madeline Levine, author of “The Price of Privilege.”

More affluent kids also can afford to buy fake IDs and can drive to places where they can pay someone to buy alcohol for them, experts note.

Binge drinking and past-month alcohol use among high-school juniors were more prevalent in richer areas of the East Bay than in less-affluent areas, according to the survey, and more juniors from rich towns admitted to having gotten high on drugs. “You can make some general assessments that affluent areas have higher alcohol and marijuana use,” said Sean Slade, regional manager for the California Healthy Kids Survey.

Kids in affluent areas have lower alcohol and other drug use rates in the lower grades, but often catch up or surpass drug-use rates among poorer youth when they reach high school.

Some upscale communities have turned to “social host” laws to counter permissive attitudes among parents, some of whom believe it is better to allow their children to drink at home with friends than to go out and do it.  

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