Although there are many factors that play into drug use (such as the environment and pre-disposition) seeing drugs and alcohol in the media every day has definitely caused an increase in drug abuse. The different forms of media (movies, television, music etc.) have the power to influence every one of us. Social media alone teaches us to compare ourselves with others, seeing what’s acceptable and what’s not.
But when we watch tv shows or movies, reads magazines, scroll through our Instagram feed, and listen to music, we’re seeing what our society finds valuable and entertaining. When we are bombarded with features of drugs and alcohol in the media, not only does it seem normal, but to many people, it even seems cool. Movies, television, and music associate drugs and alcohol with respect, control, popularity, and power. The way the media both glamorizes and normalizes drug use has been detrimental to society as a whole.
High School, Media, and Drugs
The effects of illegal drugs in society is most easily seen in high schools and universities across the country, as the youth is more easily influenced than older crowds. Studies even show that children who see their friends drinking and using drugs on social media are more likely to engage in those activities themselves. Although they are not alone, children have a tendency to idolize certain celebrities. So when they see them on the big screen, smoking a cigarette, having a beer, or taking an illegal drug, it seems more than acceptable and even appealing to them. Suddenly, all the assemblies and presentations that tell them to “Just Say No” go out the window.
Drugs Negative Effects On Society
Drug addiction and abuse in the United States costs us about $1 trillion annually, which is about 5% of our country’s GDP. This cost is due to the price of treatment and medical care, criminal justice fees, and loss of labor, among other things.
But along from the financial damage that drug abuse has done to our country, The United States has also seen a rise in drug overdose rates. In 2017 alone, drug use in modern society left us with more than 72,000 drug overdoses, which is 10% more from those of 2016. That means more people died from drug overdoses than those of gun violence, suicide, car crashes, and AIDS, combined. Researchers say that this increase in overdoses is primarily due to the recent opioid epidemic, whose star player is the deadly drug, Fentanyl. But the increased presence of drugs and alcohol in the media has had a major impact as well.
Social Media and Drugs
Social media apps such as Snapchat and Instagram allow users to send and view each other’s photos and videos just once before they disappear forever. As a result of this, people have become more comfortable in utilizing these app’s semi-privacy features to both discuss drugs and organize pick-ups. It’s also rather common to post images that feature drug use or paraphernalia in the background or even as the main feature.
These photos, that typically show people having a good time or partying, may be accessed by friends, acquaintances, and really anyone that a specific user gives access to. Drug use is simply not as discreet as it used to be. In fact, a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse showed that teens who use social media outlets are more likely to drink, use drugs, and buy tobacco than those who do not. This is greatly due to the fact that they constantly are seeing people that they know publically enjoying drugs and alcohol.
Drugs and Alcohol In The Media
In recent years, Hollywood has been flooding the public with their Blockbuster movies, television shows, podcasts, and music videos that feature drug dealers and addicts as loveable stars and protagonists. Movies like The Wolf of Wall Street and television shows such as Breaking Bad, Weeds, and the UK’s show Skins, all portray excessive amounts of drug and alcohol use. Popular music videos such as Old Fangs by Black Mountain even glamorize it. With the internet as public as it is, even children in elementary school have access to this media.
Mainstream music, particularly rap, is very explicit and encouraging when it comes to drug use. In fact, according to DrugUse.com, around 33.7% of Billboard’s top rap songs included at least one reference to alcohol or drugs. Alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs are among the most referenced. Hit songs like Drug Ballad by Eminem and Blueberry Yum Yum by Ludacris were played on the radio over and over again, slowly idealizing and normalizing the notion of drug use into the minds of our society.
It’s important to talk to your kids about drug and alcohol use at a young age and to always pay attention to their behaviors. It’s impossible to protect them from seeing drugs and alcohol in the media but by educating them and remaining a positive, constant presence in their life, you can lower their risk of experimenting with and abusing substances.