Neighborhood socioeconomic status and substance use by U.S. adults

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 Nov 1;133(1):212-21. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.04.033. Epub 2013 May 31.


Background: This study examined relationships of extremes in neighborhood socioeconomic status with use of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Hypotheses were (1) residence in disadvantaged neighborhoods would be positively associated with stress-related and higher-risk substance use patterns (e.g., drug use), and (2) residence in affluent neighborhoods would be positively associated with "healthy" substance use (e.g., drinking within recommended guidelines) and negatively associated with substance use patterns incompatible with a culture of health. Age was examined as a potential moderator.

Methods: Data were from nationally-representative samples of U.S. adults (N=14,531) from the 2000 and 2005 National Alcohol Surveys linked with indicators of neighborhood SES from the 2000 U.S. Decennial Census. Analyses included gender-stratified multivariate logistic regression using weights to adjust for sampling and non-response.

Results: As hypothesized, compared to middle-class neighborhoods, residence in disadvantaged neighborhoods was associated with higher odds of both men's and women's tobacco use and with women's other drug use. Residence in affluent neighborhoods was associated with lower odds of men's tobacco use and women's marijuana use. The association of neighborhood SES with men's tobacco use was modified by age, with the highest odds of daily tobacco use evident for all men in disadvantaged neighborhoods, as well as for younger men in middle-class neighborhoods. There were no significant associations of either alcohol outcome with neighborhood SES.

Conclusions: Increased risk of substance use for younger residents in both disadvantaged and middle-class neighborhoods and for older residents in disadvantaged neighborhoods suggest a need for targeted prevention interventions.

Keywords: Alcohol; Neighborhood; Substance use; Tobacco.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vulnerable Populations / psychology*
  • Vulnerable Populations / statistics & numerical data