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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Exploring the nature of the relationship between poverty and substance abuse: knowns and unknowns.

Author: Smyth et al.
Author Background:
Date 1998
Type Journal
Journal Title: Journal-of-Human-Behavior-in-the-Social-Environment
Volume/Pages 1(1) 67-82
Subject Matter Poverty
Abstract Poverty and substance abuse are two serious social problems that are often assumed to be interrelated. This article explores what is currently known about the relationship between these two problems. Four possible models for describing the interrelationship are identified: causal, risk factor, exacerbation, and spurious. The theoretical explanations from both the substance and poverty literature are discussed in light of their implications for these types of models. The public health perspective is selected from the substance abuse theoretical literature as the model that best subsumes and directs thinking about the relationship between poverty and substance abuse, because its focus on agent, host, and environment, draws attention to the range of factors that can influence both problems, as well as the ways in which they come together. Findings from the research literature are then discussed within the framework of the public health model. The article concludes by outlining the gaps in knowledge and an agenda for future research. (Journal abstract.)