Kids at some of the best schools are turning to alcohol and drugs / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pressure to achieve could be putting your child at risk

Students who go to elite schools and have wealthy parents are at greater risk of substance abuse, research shows.

A report conducted by Arizona State University studied two groups of students in affluent communities as part of the New England Study of Suburban Youth (NESS) and found that, despite being popular among peers, performing well in school and being “highly regarded” by teachers, privileged kids were more likely to develop addictions to alcohol, cannabis cocaine and ecstasy compared to national norms. 

After assessing the participants as high school seniors, researchers continued to annual monitor them across four college years, and from the age of 23 to 27.

“We found rates of addiction to drugs or alcohol among 19 to 24 per cent of women in the older cohort by the age of 26, and 23 to 40 per cent among men,” Professor Suniya Luthar explained.

”These rates were three and two times as high respectively, as compared to national norms.

“Among the younger cohort by the age of 22 years, rates of addiction were between 11 and 16 per cent among women - close to national norms, but 19 to 27 per cent among men, or about twice as high as national norms.”

Luthar goes on to explain that looking at the lives of these adolescents provides some clues to the cause of this elevation in substance abuse.

She revealed that each of the participants attended the best schools and as such were under enormous pressure to achieve academically. 

“Without question, most of the parents wanted their kids to head off to the best universities, as did the kids themselves,” she added.

In addition, Luthar was quick to point out that with affluence comes ease in acquiring drugs explaining that these kids had “plenty of disposable income to get high-quality fake IDs, alcohol and both prescription and recreational drugs.”

As to what can reverse this trend, the professor believes that warning ambitious youngsters of the affects substance abuse can have on their futures will help alongside reducing the pressure to attend university in order to have a successful career.