When it comes to addiction treatment, one of the ideas most impressed upon individuals working toward recovery is that of fellowship, of embracing the reality that no one is an island unto himself and that we all have roles to play in one another’s lives. We feed off of the strengths of our neighbors and suffer their misfortune as if it were ours. This notion of togetherness echoes through our society as we are often at our best when finding the courage to depend on each other, when choosing to endure through community. It is one of our most defining and important traits as a species.

Society, however, is not without its pitfalls. Our tightly woven natures can create ripples throughout our lives and futures that will remain largely out of our control.

Economic Drivers of Addiction

In the vein of our community determining our outcomes, a team of researchers at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University found that the macroeconomic environment – never mind on a personal or familial level – may determine an adolescent’s skewing toward substance abuse. “Researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, which included a group of 8,984 adolescents born between Jan. 1, 1980, and Dec. 31, 1984,” a period that included individuals born during the recessions of 1980 and 1981-1982. An era marked by high unemployment rates, the study found that, “For every 1 percentage point below the mean regional unemployment rate, kids in affected areas had a 9 percent higher chance of using marijuana, a 7 percent higher chance of smoking tobacco, and a 6 percent higher chance of drinking when they were teenagers.”

Drug Addiction, Alcoholism, and our Immediate Futures

Considering the recent economic woes that our country has faced, it is important to be ever-vigilant as we move forward and as our children grow into the world we’ve created for them. Though it may be a bit of a leap to assert that the connection between economics and addiction is a certainty based off of a single study, it is important to remember that, if nothing else, this is yet further proof that none of us is immune to the actions of our governments or our neighbors. While few of us have any real say in the economic course our society takes, we do have the power to play a role in the lives of our children and to help our neighbors whenever possible. Economic forces may lay out a path for our futures, but that path is tentative. It is our responsibility to strengthen the fellowship we share and find the detours that may exist along the way.