Drinking Often Spurs Move to Poorer Neighborhoods

An important finding:

“The more alcohol problems a man has, the more likely he is going to remain in, or migrate into, a disadvantaged neighborhood,” according to a team of University of Michigan researchers. They report their findings in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

“It can be kind of bleak when you look at it, but we know that alcoholics are prone to a whole range of negative consequences,” added Ryan Trim, a research psychologist at the VA San Diego Health Care System who’s familiar with the findings.

Experts have looked at the connections between neighborhoods and alcohol use in the past, but they’ve tended to focus on how bad neighborhoods might help produce alcoholism, Trim said.

He said the new study is unusual, because it looks at the link from the other direction: whether alcohol use makes people more likely to migrate to worse areas.

It’s pretty obvious and confirms what most of us already believed. It’s important
because studies on alcohol and poverty usually come at it from the other end–alcohol problems are more prevalent in poor areas, therefore poverty is an environmental cause of alcohol problems–these people are self-medicating their suffering from poverty.

This finding provides some important perspective on the matter. It also illuminates how researcher bias can lead to accurate but incomplete information.