Link Between Family’s Wealth and Teen Drinking

A recent study came out that discussed how teens from wealthier families had a higher tendency to drink alcohol than their peers who come from low income families. Although many like to think that having money would make you and your children healthier, this may not always be the case. At first, I found this study surprising, but upon reflection, I’m guessing it was the same way during my high school days.

The big drinkers in my school were defiantly the “popular” kids, most of which were from the wealthier families in my hometown. They were the binge drinkers, getting wasted every weekend, often times drinking while driving around in someone’s car (I remember arguing with some of my friends back then that this was such a bad idea). Many of the guys that were involved in these escapades are now alcoholics, hanging out at the bars almost every night. Some are still single, many are already divorced.

It makes me wonder why it tends to be the teens from the wealthier families that drink more and are more likely to binge drink (another aspect of the study). The researchers suggested that alcohol may be more readily available in higher income families, but I don’t necessarily know if that’s true. I know lots of middle to low income families that have a supply of booze in the house.

I think it may be more of the environment. Perhaps these teens see their parents drinking more often, having dinner parties, going out with friends. Maybe they relate it to being “grown-up” and what thirteen year old doesn’t want to feel grown up? Maybe, with a life with more privileges, they are less likely to think their actions through, thinking that they won’t get in trouble for it, the “it won’t ever happen to me” mentality that so many teens have.

I don’t know, but I find it interesting. Maybe the groups that we, as parents, counselors, teachers, etc, label “high risk” aren’t always necessarily those at the top of the risk list. Talk to you kids about it. Teach them about alcohol and the risks involved. Show them the obituaries in the paper for the drunk drivers. Make a commitment to them that if they ever need you to come get them, you will, no questions asked until morning. It’s important. Do it today.