Alcohol Abuse and Poverty in California: The Connection

Life is full of unpredictable moments. Some are easier on us, while others can wreck us in ways we couldn’t dream possible. Still, many people are aware that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and manage to come out of the difficult times unscathed. Yet, some can’t help but seek relief at the bottom […]

Life is full of unpredictable moments. Some are easier on us, while others can wreck us in ways we couldn’t dream possible. Still, many people are aware that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and manage to come out of the difficult times unscathed. Yet, some can’t help but seek relief at the bottom of a bottle. What we aren’t told, though, is that what might start as casual drinking meant to alleviate stress can quickly spiral into alcoholism.

Alcoholism is especially detrimental to those living in poverty. Once you find yourself in a vicious cycle of alcohol abuse and financial hardships, you might feel like you’re stuck in a trap with no way out. Luckily, you’re wrong! We Level Up California is there to help you overcome alcoholism and ensure that you build the future you want. But first, let’s make sense of the connection between alcohol abuse and poverty and see why more and more Californians are falling victim to them.

An alcoholic holding their head whilst smoking a cigarette
Statistics indicate a link between alcohol and poverty.

Poverty and alcohol abuse statistics in California

To understand the full scope of the problem, we must examine the alcohol and poverty statistics. On average, 15,443 people in California lose their lives as a direct or indirect result of alcohol consumption a year, with 2.5% of them being under the age of 21. The number of people affected by the loss is even bigger. Alcoholism indirectly impacts countless families, friends, and even entire communities.

At the same time, poverty is rising year by year, affecting the way people live and limiting their access to necessary resources. Statistically speaking, between fall 2021 and early 2023, the poverty rate in California climbed from 11.7% to 13.2%. Given that approximately 39 million people inhabit the state, data suggest that around 5 million individuals are living in poverty – a number that’s as big as it is frightening.

While looking at the poverty and alcohol abuse statistics, however, it’s important to note that while the former refers mostly to the lack of money, it holds a much broader meaning. It’s also related to many problems in educational, social, and economic functioning.

How closely related are alcohol abuse and poverty? The truth is – the connection between them is significant and complex. For once, financial difficulties often lead to stress. When faced with the constant worry about paying the bills, providing for your family, or simply making ends meet, the pressure can be too much to take. In these situations, you might turn to alcohol as a way to cope, even if you are aware that it is not a healthy solution.

To make things worse, alcohol abuse can also lead to further financial troubles. When alcohol becomes a priority, it can result in job loss and decreased productivity. It might even make it impossible to find work. This starts a cycle where poverty and alcohol abuse fuel each other and make it all the more difficult to break free from either. The money you spend on alcohol is the money you could have used for essential needs, which furthers tightens the financial strain and affects you and your family.

This cycle of poverty and alcohol abuse contributes to a range of negative outcomes, including an increased risk of suicide. One research highlights a notable correlation between county-level poverty rates and suicide, particularly pointing out that in economically disadvantaged areas, there’s a higher incidence of alcohol-related suicides among men aged 45 to 64. Furthermore, the research emphasizes the need for a broad approach to suicide prevention strategies that includes alcohol abuse prevention and treatment. These joint interventions aim to reduce suicide rates and to improve overall quality of life.

A glass of alcoholic drink on dollar bills, representing the connection between alcohol abuse and poverty
Addiction to alcohol and poverty are tough to escape.

Alcoholism among unemployed people

Unemployment often results in alcohol abuse disorder. When you lose your job, you lose your source of income. But it goes beyond that. You also lose your sense of purpose and structure in your daily life. This may make you feel worthless and could even lead to depression and anxiety. When these emotions become overwhelming, you may try to manage them or numb them with alcohol.

In addition, having a job and going to work gives you a routine and a chance to interact with other people. When you stop working, you become isolated. At this time, alcohol could seem an appealing option for coping with the stress and uncertainty of figuring out how you’ll afford housing, food, and other essentials.

There’s also the shame associated with unemployment. Everybody seems to be working, so why can’t you find a job? You may be thinking there’s no way anyone will understand what you are going through. Worse, they will judge you for drinking to ease the pain. As a result of these feelings, it’s possible you’ll become further withdrawn and show unwillingness to seek help out of fear of being judged. This makes alcoholism even more severe and delays your recovery.

The true cost of alcoholism on your life and community

Alcoholism is not a marginal issue in California. Statistics show that it is a widespread challenge that affects many lives. The fact is 16.6% of adults over the age of 18 engage in binge drinking at least once a month. The impact of excessive drinking is particularly pronounced among certain demographics, with 69.1% of those who die from excessive alcohol use being male and 86.1% of alcohol-related deaths occurring in adults aged 35 years and older.

Alcoholism carries a heavy cost. The consequences of alcohol abuse extend to your family, community, and even the whole economy, and may include:

  1. Health care costs
  2. Loss of productivity
  3. Impact on family dynamics
  4. Legal issues

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Health care costs

If you’re suffering from alcohol-related health issues, such as liver or kidney disease, you’re likely facing significant medical bills. These expenses can derail your financial stability and push you further into economic uncertainty. The strain on public health resources also means less availability for other critical healthcare needs.

Loss of productivity

When struggling with alcohol addiction, the consequences on your professional life can be severe. Frequent alcohol use can impair your cognitive functions and physical coordination, which directly decreases your work efficiency and output quality.

Also, there’s the issue of being absent from work frequently, whether due to hangovers or medical conditions caused by alcoholism. If absenteeism and underperformance become chronic, you may even lose your job. When you do, you lose your current income and possibly a chance at future employment. In fact, a history of alcohol-related job loss can make it tougher to find work, as with gaps in your resume, you may find it impossible to leverage references from previous employers.

Impact on family

The emotional toll on your family might be the hardest consequence to bear. The stress and instability caused by drunkenness can leave lasting scars, particularly on children. When money that should support your family’s needs goes toward alcohol, it undermines the very foundation of your home life, affecting everyone’s security and happiness.

Alcohol-related legal issues, like DUIs, bring fines, legal fees, and, again, the possibility of losing your job. In low-income situations, these costs are not easy to handle. This further locks you into a cycle of alcohol addiction and poverty.

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Treatment options for alcoholics near the poverty line

If you are facing difficulties with alcoholism and poverty at the same time, you should explore treatment options available in California.

Finding the right support and treatment can be a turning point in your life. Start with exploring these options, as they can help you overcome alcoholism without worsening your financial situation.

Why insurance is important

You do not have to settle for a sliding scale option because you cannot afford full treatment. In fact, at We Level Up California, we want to make sure that your financial situation does not prevent you from getting better, which is why we would like to stress the importance of having insurance.

You may not believe it, but your existing insurance plan could cover a significant percentage, if not all, of your rehabilitation costs! Nowadays, insurance plans typically include coverage for alcohol treatment. This coverage is the product of the Affordable Care Act, which has enhanced access to vital medical care for many people.

We work with several providers, including Aetna, BCBC, and Cigna. Of course, you should contact us even if you aren’t insured by either of these. Feel free to do so, and we will conduct a full insurance check that will allow you to swiftly determine whether or not your provider can cover the costs of your treatment, as well as what your coverage includes.

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We Level Up Califronia works with most insurance providers. When in doubt about whether you can afford treatment, let us complete an insurance check.

Seeking professional help

Willpower might not be enough to overcome alcoholism. You need professional support and guidance. Our expertise and comprehensive treatment programs give you the structure, support, and resources necessary to treat both the physical addiction and the underlying issues that contribute to alcoholism. Let’s explore the programs and approaches we use to help you get better and build a brighter future.

Inpatient rehab

During inpatient rehab, you can focus solely on your recovery without the distractions and triggers of everyday life. When you stay at the facility, you receive round-the-clock care and support from professionals who understand exactly how complex alcoholism is. This intensive approach provides you with a safe space for alcohol detox in California, therapy, and the development of healthy coping mechanisms.

Furthermore, the alcohol withdrawal timeline can vary, making it important to stay within a facility where all the withdrawal symptoms can be safely managed.

Outpatient rehab

Outpatient rehab allows you to stay flexible and live at home while attending scheduled sessions. This option supports your healing process by integrating therapy, support groups, and educational workshops into your daily life. It is particularly useful if you need to maintain responsibilities at work. It offers you a balance between recovery and personal obligations.

It’s important to note, however, that our facility in California specializes exclusively in inpatient care. While we are not equipped to offer outpatient services at this location, our commitment to your recovery journey remains steadfast. Through our network, we ensure you have access to the comprehensive support you need. Should outpatient services better suit your situation, we are prepared to assist in connecting you with our trusted partners to continue your path to wellness.

Free family support

Family plays a huge role in alcohol addiction rehab, and knowing you have its full support can lead to lasting sobriety. Being aware of just how much of a difference a family can make, we strive to educate family members on how to deal with the challenges of alcoholism, especially if the addiction has caused a strain on finances. We regularly hold free family support groups that many have found helpful.

It’s crucial to emphasize that our patients’ family may take use of this supporting offer just while they are receiving inpatient treatment. By providing them with the resources they need to support their loved one’s recovery journey properly, this effort seeks to enhance the family unit.

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Access to personal development events

Coaching events available to We Level Up California patients and families focus on providing individuals with helpful skills and strategies to enhance personal and professional growth. By equipping you with these skills, the events aim to support improving one’s career to understand how to gain financial stability.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

When it comes to CBT and alcoholism, you need to know that this type of therapy helps you manage cravings and alters harmful thought patterns.

CBT can be particularly effective in treating alcohol induced psychosis, especially in the early stages or for those with mild symptoms. It introduces patients to coping mechanisms for dealing with hallucinations or delusions caused by alcohol consumption. At the same time, it prevents relapse that could trigger psychotic episodes all over again.

Treating mental health issues caused by alcoholism

We have established that the connection between alcohol abuse and poverty exists. It’s also clear that alcoholism is bad for your body. But what it can also impact in a bad way is your brain. Alcohol is a CNS depressant, which means that it slows down brain function and alters the neurotransmitter balance in the brain, leading to potential mental health issues. This generally includes depression, anxiety, and mood swings.

Unfortunately, alcoholism can sometimes lead to more severe mental health problems, such as alcohol induced dementia or alcoholic neuropathy. The first condition is characterized by memory loss and a progressive cognitive decline. The earlier it is caught, the better the prognosis.

Alcoholic neuropathy, on the other hand, is when nerves become damaged due to excessive drinking. Unfortunately, it can continue to wreak havoc long after you have stopped drinking and manifests itself through symptoms like numbness, tingling, muscle spasms, digestive problems, impaired speech, and others. The treatment of alcoholic neuropathy includes prescribed medication, vitamin supplements, and physical therapy.

If alcohol addiction has led to your experiencing these issues, it’s best you seek professional assistance as soon as possible. Our staff will help you reach lasting recovery and prevent further cognitive impairment.

An optimistic person in a suit after solving their alcohol addiction and poverty issues
With our help, you can combat alcohol abuse and poverty that results from it once and for all!

Break free from addiction and get the life you want

Finding your way out of the tough spot where alcohol abuse and poverty meet can seem hard. Addiction can drain your resources, energy, and focus – things you need to improve your situation. When you start to break free from addiction, you open up space in your life for positive changes. Once you start to recover, you will likely find you have more energy and clarity. This will lead to better decisions, stronger relationships, and even opportunities for work or education that felt out of reach before. If you are struggling to make that first step toward getting better, remember that you are not alone in this. Support is here, and it can make all the difference!

  1. Bohn, Sarah. “Poverty in California – Public Policy Institute of California.” Public Policy Institute of California, 2019,
  2. National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. “Alcohol Abuse Statistics.” NCDAS, 2023,
  3. Kerr, W. C., Kaplan, M. S., Huguet, N., Caetano, R., Giesbrecht, N., & McFarland, B. H. (2017). Economic recession, alcohol, and suicide rates: Comparative effects of poverty, foreclosure, and job loss. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 52(4), 469–475.
  4. IRS. “Affordable Care Act | Internal Revenue Service.”, 2018,

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