Some Interesting Facts About the Media’s Impact on Drug Abuse

header curve background image

Some Interesting Facts About the Media’s Impact on Drug Abuse

The media’s impact on drug abuse, through advertising and other cultural messages, is usually cited by those in treatment as a conduit to addiction. According to studies performed by CASA Columbia University (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse) about teenagers and drug misuse in the United States, almost ninety percent of those meeting the medical standards of addiction began using drugs before they turned eighteen.

CASA’s report says that American culture as defined by the media significantly increases a teen’s risk of trying addictive drugs and substances. When combined with other factors of encouragement, including parents’ or friends’ use at home or school, advertising and media depictions of drug use is seen as either a neutral, relaxing, fun, or attractive habit. For example, portrayals of young people using alcohol, prescription drugs, or marijuana in movies and videos directly undermine the health futures of young people. The media’s impact on drug abuse is leading teens to think it’s okay to drink alcohol and use drugs recreationally. They don’t see the dark side of drug or alcohol addiction.

Addiction By the Numbers

Media's Impact on Drug Abuse

Almost half of the children eighteen or younger (about thirty-four plus million) have a parent or other older role model who smokes, drinks, misuses controlled medicines, or outright illegal drugs, according to CASA. Addiction issues tend to run in families; there may be a known genetic predisposition to alcoholism or drug use. If the young teen has previously experienced trauma, he or she has an even higher probability of drug use or addiction.

  • Researchers say that individuals who avoid addictive drugs and substances until they’re at least twenty-one are statistically unlikely to start abusing these substances. That’s one of the prominent reasons for parents to supervise what kinds of movies, videos, music, and other media the young person watches or listens to.
  • A close family member or friend who uses addictive substances may convince a younger person that drug use is no big deal; about twenty-one percent of young people in the study report that marijuana is “harmless.”

Need for Social Acceptance

More than half of young addicts studied (aged eighteen or younger) said they craved the social acceptance they perceived using drugs or substances with a family member or friend would bestow. They often reported that using some illegal substances might make them look “cool” or associate them with more popular friends. Here again, the media’s impact on drug abuse comes into play with teens thinking that using drugs and alcohol makes them look “cool.”

Cost of Drug Misuse

The cost of underage substance and drug abuse inspired by the media is greater than $1,500 per person in government and municipal funds.

According to the CASA study, about sixty-eight billion dollars results from underage teen drinking, and fourteen billion is related to costs associated with substance abuse-related cases tried by the juvenile justice system. In total, federal, state, and local jurisdictions spend about five hundred billion dollars per year managing and adjudicating drug and drug-related matters.

Accidents, Injuries, Unintended Results

Young drug users suffer greater numbers of accidents and injuries, as well as:

  • Unplanned pregnancies
  • Severe medical conditions, e.g. asthma, impaired brain function
  • Serious psychological conditions, e.g. anxiety, depression, psychosis
  • Reduced educational or achievement levels
  • Criminal consequences or involvement
  • Death

How Much Does the Media’s Impact on Drug Abuse Concern You?

Adolescent Substance Abuse: America’s Number One Public Health Problem” published by Columbia researchers says that adolescents are the individuals most at risk of developing substance abuse-related addiction. The media’s impact on drug abuse comes from the many movies and sitcoms depicting people using drugs, alcohol, and illegal substances as a lifestyle choice. CASA says that twenty-five percent of young Americans who begin using drugs before they turn eighteen become addicted (compared to only one in about twenty-five people who start using these substances at twenty-one or later).

Because young addicts are strongly influenced by the media, family, and friends, it’s essential for the media to take more responsibility in how it portrays drug use and addiction in more accurate ways. Then, of course, it is the responsibility of family and friends to encourage proper addiction therapies, such as inpatient treatment.

According to the authors of “What You Always Wanted To Know About Addiction Treatment,” (2012) full recovery from addiction can be a lengthy and challenging process. Inpatient treatments disengage the addict from his or her surroundings and temptations to use drugs or other addictive substances. When used with cognitive behavioral therapy, the user learns to associate healthy habits with his or her life and future.

If you would like more information about the media’s impact on drug abuse, call our toll-free number today.

2 Comments Hide Comments

While you can’t really blame the media for someone doing drugs, they certainly make it look cool and the thing to do and to younger kids, this is what they are looking to be and do so if their music and movie idols are doing it, it must be OK. We really must somehow get the media to embrace the fact that we need to educate our youth that even though lots of people do drugs and drink alcohol, there are consequences to them personally and to those around them. Kids need to hear this from everywhere in their lives, not just at home.

It is true that there is a big effect of the media on the lives of people, and there is a big impact that it makes on people. I remember when I was a kid, it was important to me the whole idea of being popular and fitting in. It is a confusing time to see that there is a huge impact that takes effect when the media portrays drugs as being glamorous or the “thing to do.” It is really sad that there is such an impact that the drugs take and how many people see them as being popular. When in fact they are just a trap that takes hold of a person and gets them under the grips. I think that overall many people see the use of drugs analytically as being not a good idea, yet there is the common use you would not think it. People need to see that there is not a thing in the world that drugs do good. I mean even medically, they are not really that effective ast doing what they need to do. Sometimes they do work, but also it is important to see that they do not always end well. We often polarize on the illegal street drugs, but also these same things are true for other purely medical drugs. They have their place, but also it is important to look at the problems that they cause.

Add Your Comment

Speak With A Treatment Advisor
Speak With A Treatment Advisor
Call 269-704-7240
or complete the form below
All information is completely confidential

Get 24/7 Help Now:


For Immediate Treatment Help Call: