Low Income Americans and Addiction
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There is no evidence that poverty and drugs in America are connected. However, studies have shown that substance abuse in low-income families is more common than in families of higher economic status. Poverty in the United States is measured by a family’s income compared to the legal poverty line.
The poverty line is set as the level of income needed in order to cover basic needs. When these basic needs are not met, a family may be considered a low-income family, living in poverty. Because poverty and drugs in America can be connected, those living in poverty may spend money to maintain their addiction, forcing them further into poverty.
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Dangers of Poverty and Drugs in America
Addictions to drugs cost more and more as an addiction builds. For example, because your body develops a tolerance to a substance after repeated use, you will need to purchase more of the drug to achieve the same “high” that you experienced previously. Often the dangers of addiction for those in poverty are more than simply hurting the body by using drugs.
Poverty and drugs in America hurt low-income families in many other ways as well, such as the following:
- Increased insurance costs and premiums
- Other medical costs
- Missed work and pay
- Lost employment
- Inability to find employment
- Accumulating legal bills
- Increased fines and traffic tickets
- Other drug-related legal problems
Those who abuse drugs may spend a large portion of their income buying drugs to feed their addiction. This can lead to neglecting bills in order to buy more drugs. Negative consequences may quickly snowball, with overdue bills and missed payments.
Credits scores can be negatively affected. A family can go into debt. These issues only cause more stress, pushing a family further into poverty and addiction.
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Reasons Poverty and Drugs in America Are Connected
Poverty and drugs in America are both connected to stress, among many other factors. When faced with the challenge of where you are going to sleep or where you will get your next meal, drugs can seem like an easy way to escape these problems. Stress is a very common risk factor for drug abuse in general, and it is also a common risk factor for relapse.
Heroin is an illegal drug that is made with the same original ingredient as prescription opioid narcotics. Heroin gives an intense high at first that also slows brain function. Additionally, heroin use can result in withdrawal symptoms even after only one use. These symptoms include chills, anxiety, and intense cravings for the drug.
Poverty alone can create a feeling of hopelessness, but poverty and drugs in America can make the feeling of hopelessness worse. Although many young people in poverty hope to go to college, buy a house, or travel one day, they may feel like that will never happen. Feeling hopeless can put you at a higher risk for substance abuse.
Similarly, people suffering from low self-esteem have a higher risk of addiction. Because people in the United States tend to emphasize financial success, some people in lower-income brackets may feel as though they have failed. Feelings of guilt and shame are often intertwined with low self-esteem, which connects poverty and drugs in America.
Less Social Support and Access
Additionally, people in lower-income brackets often have less access to solid support systems. Because healthcare in the United States is privatized, those with lower incomes have less access to health care. The Affordable Healthcare Act has helped increase the number of Americans that are able to obtain health insurance, but almost half of all American adults are still uninsured.
Unfortunately, preventative health care is often limited to those who can afford it, which leaves millions of people without access to preventative care and without resources to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Some people with an undiagnosed or untreated mental illness may look to self-medicate with drugs, but this leads to only more problems.
Unemployment, Poverty, and Drugs in America
Because addiction does not discriminate based on socioeconomic status, people across all walks of life are affected. However, someone with has a stable income is statistically less likely to have an addiction than someone who lacks financial security. Addiction rates actually double when it comes to unemployed individuals versus those who have jobs.
Mental Illness, Poverty, and Drugs in America
If you have experienced poverty early in life, or for a long period of time, then you are at a higher risk for emotional and psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and other disorders.
A dual diagnosis is when someone is getting treatment for mental illness while they also have a drug addiction. This means that anyone suffering from depression or anxiety, along with a substance abuse problem has a co-occurring disorder. At Resurgence, we provide dual diagnosis treatment that helps people struggling with mental issues and a drug problem fully recover.
Health Insurance and Treatment Options
Going to rehab is one of the best decisions you can take to begin your recovery. Unfortunately, the high cost of rehab is one of the most common reasons that low-income Americans believe they cannot get help.
The cycle of poverty and drugs in America does not need to continue. Although the total cost of rehab depends on the facility and specific treatments offered, most health insurance plans will cover some form of rehab. And if you cannot afford private health insurance, you can apply for a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. You may even be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.
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There are many government programs that can help you get matched with a rehab program that fits your needs. Contact Resurgence Behavioral Health to learn how we can help.
We also offer free insurance verification for treatment. In a confidential call, we will share with you the programs we offer, and how you can get started on the road to recovery.