The Relationship between Social Inequality and Substance Abuse

The Relationship Between Social Inequality and substance abuse

There are many people who use alcohol and other illegal drugs on a daily basis. In the past, it was assumed that people who abused alcohol illegal substances did it for fun and only cared about themselves. However, this notion has long been disapproved by research showing that there many factors that push individuals to destroy to alcohol and substance abuse. According to a research done by Allen et al (2014), social inequality is the most significant factor that push once great minds into a life of misery under substance dependence. This short essay seeks to establish how cultural, social roles and other social inequalities relate with alcohol and substance abuse.

According to Room (2005) the term “social inequality” is a quite broad as it encompasses differences on numerous social aspects such as age, gender, ethnoreligious differences as well as other inequalities of discrimination. However, poverty is a major issue that can be deduced from this term since it accommodates both the socio-economic as well as the lifestyles and behavioral determinants. Alcohol, tobacco and other substances feature prominently among lifestyle determinants. Link et al (2014) identify drugs and poverty as an intervening factor in a model that suggest that there is greater substance abuse among the poor as a response to the greater stress in their lives.  The author suggest that poor people take more alcohol and other substances to escape the reality of their stressful situation(s) in life. He argues that this is a weakness that is portrayed by the larger mankind population as people would rather find a way of escaping challenges rather than confront the truth.

Kornblum, Seccombe & Julian (2017) are of the perception that marginalization and stigma issues brought about by indifference in social and cultural roles contribute to social inequality, which begets substance abuse. According to the authors, alcoholism and drug addiction in social terms are thoroughly derogated and moralized categories in many societies. As a result, an individual’s pattern of alcohol and other psychoactive drug use is not only an issue of public health interest in many societies, but also subject of social evaluation. This is more so in terms of honor, approval or disapproval or stigma in everyday life.

In conclusion, the above research portrays that there is a significant relationship between the social issue of alcohol and drug abuse with cultural, social roles and indifference in social inequalities.











Allen, J., Balfour, R., Bell, R., & Marmot, M. (2014). Social determinants of mental health. International Review of Psychiatry26(4), 392-407.

Kornblum, W., Seccombe, K., & Julian, J. (2017). Social problems. Pearson.

Link, B. G., Phelan, J. C., & Hatzenbuehler, M. L. (2014). Stigma and social inequality. In Handbook of the social psychology of inequality (pp. 49-64). Springer Netherlands.

Room, R. (2005). Stigma, social inequality and alcohol and drug use. Drug and alcohol review24(2), 143-155.

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