Socioeconomic Disparities and Self-reported Substance Abuse-related Problems

Kesha Baptiste-Roberts, Mian Hossain


Background: It is not well understood whether the self-reported experience of substance abuse-related problems differs by socioeconomic status.

Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis using the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) on participants who reported ever using illicit drugs or used illicit drugs in the past year.

Findings: Among those reporting ever using illicit drugs (n = 4701), 71% were Non-Hispanic White, 37% had a family income ≥ $75000, and 3% reported having substance abuse-related problems in the past year. After adjustment for age, race, marital status, and education, individuals in the lowest income group were more likely to report having problems related to their substance abuse compared to individuals in the highest income group [odds ratio (OR) = 1.36, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.08-1.72] among those who reported ever using illicit drugs. There was no evidence of interaction with race or gender.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that poverty may be associated with self-identification of substance abuse-related problems among those who report ever using illicit drugs. Appropriate intervention should be targeted toward the low-income group to address identified substance abuse-related problems.


Socioeconomic status; Health status disparities; Substance-related disorders

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