Study: Teens at Elite High Schools Face Higher Addiction Risk

teens at elite high schools higher addiction ratesPrivilege doesn’t offer protection from addiction, according to a new study of more than 500 teens published in the journal Development and Psychopathology.

In fact, teens at elite U.S. high schools face an even higher addiction risk – with rates twice as high as national norms, noted researchers.

“Results showed that among both men and women and across annual assessments, these young adults had substantial elevations, relative to national norms, in frequency of several indicators – drinking to intoxication and of using marijuana, stimulants such as Adderall, cocaine, and club drugs such as ecstasy,” said study author Suniya Luthar, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University, in a press release.

“Paradoxical though it may seem, these ostensibly privileged youth, many of who start experimenting early and often with drinking and drugs, could well be among the groups at highest risk for alcoholism and addiction in adulthood,” Luthar said.

The study noted the following as possible reasons for the increased risk, including:

  • Pressure to succeed or stress about the “right” college
  • Having money needed to buy drugs, alcohol and high-quality fake IDs
  • Widespread peer approval of substance use
  • Lack of awareness from parents

While researchers have long-linked substance use disorders with children growing up in poverty, Luthar noted that there needs to be more studies to identify and treat addiction in well-to-do areas. “We now need the same dedicated research on kids who grow up in pressure-cooker, high-achieving schools,” she said.

Addiction Help for Young Adults
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