Addiction and Affluent Youth

Addiction and Affluent Youth


Addiction is a challenge for people no matter the age. Affluence is one particularly challenging aspect for youth who have experienced huge growth in the use of prescription painkillers and other drugs. Access to resources is part of the reason for this trend. Learn more about other reasons why addiction is affecting affluent youth and what can be done to help solve the crisis.


Drug and Alcohol Use

The black hole of drug and alcohol use among youth can create a lifetime of consequences and problems down the road. Some of the following are key points to understanding drug and alcohol use in affluent youth:

  • Many individuals struggle with drug and alcohol use, regardless of financial status.
  • Some frequency of use is higher in wealthy families but may be a perception of the families who are more often visible within the community.
  • The pathway of substance abuse for individuals from wealthy families present unique characteristics which differ from other youth who explore drugs and alcohol


Pursuit of Pleasure

Some families use wealth to pursue fun, educational experiences or explore ways to enhance excitement and pleasure. While children are young, parents may take the family on exotic trips, send youth to prestigious camps for the summer (ranging in length from a few weeks to a whole summer). As preteens and adolescents, families may go on vacation at Christmas and Spring breaks to a family vacation home along with cruises and excursions to Europe or other places. During this time, experimentation may begin as children become pre-teens and youth trying alcohol, drugs and partying with peers.


Easy Access

Affluent youth often struggle with drug and alcohol experimentation based on the following issues:

  • Access to easy money
  • Lots of free time
  • Lack of parental supervision
  • Drive towards excitement which leads to use
  • Overall lack of purpose and meaning in life beyond pleasurable pursuits
  • Combination of any of the above mentioned issues


Youth who struggle with addiction to substances and have access to resources often are challenged to find a purpose or meaning in life beyond pleasure. Teens who come from affluent families may not hit rock bottom as quickly because money comes in unending supply which provides access to more drugs or alcohol.


How to Help

Families of wealth and loved ones who notice signs of a teen struggling with addiction may consider the following ways to offer support:

  • Be actively involved in children’s lives. Attend school activities and know the peer groups.
  • Identify the purpose and meaning of family wealth and teach it to children.
  • Understand work is more than about earning money. Work can bring meaning to life.


Although no guarantees exist, there are ways to help guide teens towards more positive life choices with some guidelines and engagement from family, friends and a network of engaged mentors such as teachers.


Special treatment programs exist for teens from affluent families who struggle with addiction. Contact us to find out how we can help you find the best treatment option with individualized programs for your teen.