Addiction and substance abuse take many forms and can include different ways of affecting both the individual and those who love the addict. The problems related to substance abuse cross all demographics, genders, religions and ethnicity––no one is immune.
With the varying effects and user profiles, one stereotype that rings true is how addiction often affects the poor and working class very differently than the way it affects the wealthy. Substance abuse causes a seemingly endless cycle of addiction and poverty. Among the many different aspects of substance abuse, following are three things you should know.
Substance abuse for the poor and working class includes higher risks.
Understanding that issues related to substance abuse can cross any barrier, having a lower income means that a person does not have the means to access safer alternatives that people with higher incomes can afford. For example, the working class may participate in the following high-risk behaviors as part of their addiction:
• Purchasing drugs from individuals who may be adding substances that could be dangerous in order to stretch a supply and keep prices low.
• Reusing or sharing needles to keep the cost of drug use lower
• Purchasing low-quality alcohol which leads to more hangovers or after effects
Although these behaviors may seem minor in the grand scheme of substance abuse, all three can lead to serious health issues.
Lower incomes prevent adequate access to rehabilitation
The ability to take paid days off from work to participate in treatment programs is a luxury not always afforded to the working class. For most people, it would be a significant hardship to take unpaid time off from work to seek necessary treatment. This lack of flexibility may lead to an individual losing his or her job due to substance abuse issues, which only promotes the cycle of low income and substance abuse.
Additionally, rehabilitation programs are not always included in insurance plans, so only those who have savings or sufficient funds can afford to seek treatment programs, if they do not have insurance to cover the expenses.
Less lenient sentencing for lower income addicts
Many examples exist of wealthy or famous people avoiding the stricter sentencing given to the working class or poor when faced with a conviction. The reasons for this include the ability to hire top legal defense, being able to bargain leniency due to being a high profile person and avoiding incarceration due to the danger of being included with general prison population.
The poor and working class often use public defenders or have to limit their attorney’s time. Lack of adequate legal defense often leads to stricter sentences. When released from serving their sentence, substance abusers are often prevented from returning to jobs and may be unable to find work. Lack of income or a reduced income often continues the cycle of low income and substance use.
Although substance abuse can happen to anyone from any walk of life, the way it affects a person’s life can vary greatly dependent on economic situations. No matter what your walk of life, help is available and is only a phone call away. Call our Helpline at 800-447-9081 to take the first step in breaking the cycle of addiction.