As media is becoming more and more invasive, individuals see and hear messages within popular culture that promote drinking and drugs. As individuals receive these messages, they may feel that excessive amounts of drinking or abusing drugs is “normal” or “not too dangerous”. Especially for younger people who may not understand the consequences of partaking in these dangerous activities, peer pressure and the need to seem “cool” may make these messages more influential. Here are several examples of how popular culture plays a part in the addiction crisis:
- Movies, such as American Pie and The Hangover, depict effects of heavy drinking in a funny and lighthearted manner, normalizing alcoholism. For individuals who are in or about to go to college, these movies often set a tone for what they should expect. College students are at elevated risk for developing alcoholism in part due to the normalization of that addiction in those settings.
- Let’s Get High by Dr. Dre, Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd, and Swimming Pools (Drank) by Kendrick Lamar are just a few examples of songs that talk about drugs and alcohol in a more positive light, without mentioning the consequences. Oftentimes individuals may use these songs while drinking/smoking with friends, which further promotes these behaviors.
- The internet has become so widespread and consists of several tools that individuals can use to obtain information in the way that best suits them. Alcohol advertisements may suddenly appear on outlets such as Facebook or Instagram, especially as advertising companies are now able to target in on what the individual is searching for on their media device.
- Reality shows often further promote unhealthy behavior towards alcohol or drugs, and are typically used for entertainment and comedic purposes. Shows such as Jersey Shore and Breaking Bad glorify drinking and drug addiction and further perpetuate the idea that drinking or using drugs is “cool” or “fun”.
Although popular culture may not directly cause a person to drink or use drugs, it certainly promotes addictive behaviors. Individuals should become more active consumers to determine if what they are watching or listening to is beneficial to their health and well-being. For people who suffer from an addiction and are in the process of recovery, depictions of alcohol/drug use in media is widespread. Those individuals should develop a safety plan with their doctor and loved ones to ensure they do not feel pressured to retreat to old negative patterns.
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