How Mass Media Influence Drug Use
Over the last 10-15 years, speculations of the effects of media on people’s lives have grown exponentially with increased technological innovations. In the 90’s, a large portion of the population could not access cable. News papers and magazines were the major forms of media as the internet was deemed as a luxury. As time passed, trends changed. The economic boom and technological savvy have resulted to better life standards. More than ever before, children and teenagers have been exposed to media. Media has been recognized as one of the leading moderators of human behavior (Kirsh 43). In the words of Malcolm X, media is one of the most powerful entities; “it has power to make the guilty innocent, and the innocent guilty” because it controls the minds of people. In this regard, there is a notion lately that mass media directly and indirectly promotes drug use in the society. This is a notion I believe true for there are so many reasons that the media contributes to increased drug use in the society.
For starters, the media has a lot to contribute to drug use in the society. This can be both positive and negative influence depending on the practices that mass media adopts. For positive influence to drugs use, the media can be one of the best channels to educate young stars on the dangers of engaging themselves in drug abuse (Calvert, Sandra & Barbara 98). This can be through writing articles on how to live healthy and ways of staying away from illicit drugs. It can also be used a channel to educate people on the need to stick to doses that are prescribed by medical practitioners without overdosing or abandoning a dosage before one completes treatment (Blackman 76). With the invention of the internet, communication around globe has become significantly fast. With just a click of a button from an electronic gadgets people access information uploaded online anywhere in the world. Therefore, social media forums such as Facebook, Twitter among others are being used to discourage the youth from experimenting on these substances as well as long term effects of substance use.
However, even with all the above points on the positive influence the media has on drug use, it also has its share of negative influence. The media also has a lot of power to influence youths to engage in drug abuse (Nelson 53). This is more so because of the material being shown in the media including; movies, advertisements, reality Television shows, some music videos and lyrics among other material. For instance, some movies have continued to cover way too many details on drug abuse and drug lords in their characters (Calvert, Sandra & Barbara 68). These movies are also always portraying drug lords as very rich and powerful individuals in the society. To a great extent, this is negative influence on the youth as they envy the drug lords lives of big mansions, flashy cars and other material things that accompany drug lords’ lifestyles.
Some of these movies even lead some youngsters into thinking that they could indeed start off in drug trafficking and then lead a “clean” life after establishing themselves in the world (Kirsh 127). This is a notion that has seen many young men and women get into drug trafficking and drug abuse thinking that they are building their foundations into the future. On top of that, the level at which these movies are covering drug use in movies is also alarming. Many youths have been exposed to PG and R-Rated programs at significantly young ages hence have come to witness some of the most heinous scenes of drug abuse use movies. A good example would the 2013 movie; “The wolf of the wall street” by Leonardo Dicaprio. This movie covered too much detail in its drug use and promiscuity scene as well as the lavish lifestyle that the main character led, and he almost got away with it. It even got banned in some countries outside the USA for example Kenya, for Kenyan leaders felt it would corrupt their youths in the ways of these movie characters. The main character of this movie (Leonardo Dicaprio) had managed to evade the authorities in every situation until his friend made one unanticipated telephone call from a police-tapped line while he was “high”. All this time, Dicaprio had managed to build his own company, buy a significantly expensive boat as well as a big mansion among other lavish items. Had it not been for the mistake of the telephone call, this movies show us that he would have got away with substance use among other crimes in the society. Therefore, it is right to say that this movie negatively influences the youth to do drugs. That is as long as they do not make silly mistakes that would make them get caught, and they can get rich and prosperous.
Another example would be the music videos that our mass media channels seem to be playing all day. This is more so some hip hop channels that are showing almost highly explicit videos that are also accompanied by lyrics that promote drug use in the name of music (Nelson 75). Nowadays, it is a norm to hear a hip hop song talking of “being high” or “getting high” at a party or a club in the name of music. On top of that, music videos from many music genres quite often show characters smoking huge cigars, “getting wasted” with liquor among other substances, and also dancing explicitly once high. To the youths who watch these videos, they take this as the best way to have fun hence they practice it by even having house parties and copying the same thing when their parents are out of town (Moore, Lisa & Mary 87). As if that were not enough, some music artists have come out in the open producing songs that call for legalization of some of these substances. For example Hip hop and Reggea singer Snoop Dogg also formely known as “Snoop Lion” has even released a couple of songs saying he smokes the weed every day. Snoop is just one of the many people influential people in mass media who are garnering support for marijuana legalization as well as other substances.
Advertisements on drugs are also another way in which drug use in being promoted in mass media. It is disheartening to see the amount of airplay being given drugs advertisements in our Televisions, magazines and banners among other advertisement materials in the world (Moore, Lisa & Mary 14). Drug use among teenagers in the society is brought about by many factors; however, mass media is not making this situation any better. For instance, there are two drugs that have been legalized for they are assumed as with less devastating consequences than others: That is alcohol and cigarettes. However, research shows that these drugs have just as many devastating effects or even worse than the illegal ones (Nelson 23). On top of that, teenagers have also been exposed to R-rated and above PG – 13 movies which have a lot of drug abuse and explicit scenes which influence them to want to try out what they see. A research done on the airplay being given to alcohol and cigarettes in mass media shows that at least $25 billion dollars are being spent on advertising alcohol, some prescription drugs and cigarettes in our society every year (Kirsh 53). This kind of advertising has been proven to be an effective means of promoting drug use, more so among teenagers in the society.
Our schools, parents and the federal government is busy trying to get teenagers, young children and other members of the society to say no to drugs, but when there is alcohol and cigarettes advertisement worth more than $25 billion, they are easily tempted to “say yes” to the drugs. Alcohol and drugs are the earliest drugs that were used by teenagers even in history, hence massive adverts on these two substances are not any better for the situation (Roleff 48). On top of that, research done in relation to the effects of mass media on drug use show that a teenager or even an adolescent using these drugs is more likely to abuse other drugs. This research showed that one using these drugs is 65 times more likely to start abusing hard drugs than one who does abstain (Nelson 62).
What is even more disturbing is that parties paying for these adverts do not understand the devastating effects they have on teenagers in terms of drug abuse in the society. A good example is the way nowadays many teenagers have indulged themselves in drinking out of the influence of these adverts. Alcohol is a drug that teenagers watch being taken by their age mates in movies as well as in the adverts, hence they also want to have the same experience. Alcohol is the most common drug among youth, and the consequences of overdrinking have been dire hence I will use as the best example on how it affects user in the society once influence by the mass media among other factors. In fact, each year, an estimated 5, 000 youngsters below the 21-years age bracket perish from underage-related activities; 1,900 from automobile crashes as they drive under the influence; 1,600 alcohol-related homicide; 300 suicides, and from hundreds of other alcohol-induced injuries including burns, falls, and drowning (Jewkes 78).
Alcohol abuse often harms people than the one who drink it, the people close to them, and the whole society as a whole (Calvert, Sandra & Barbara 68). For instance, alcohol is typically believed to lead to dwindled worker productivity, an increased rate of unintentional injuries, violence and aggression against others, and spouses, and child abuse. Research outcomes have revealed that drinking is directly or indirectly involved in or associated with most of these social vices. Admittedly, however, research findings that alcohol actually causes these effects do not exist. However, this negates not the fact that alcohol has profound adverse personal and social effects.
The effects of alcohol on driving safety, especially on underage consumers, cannot be overstated either, and the available alcohol-related car crashes statistics are sobering. Each year in across the United States, 6,000 teenagers are killed by drinking under the influence of alcohol (DUI), a number that surpasses all illegal drugs combined. So much is the frequency that, in 2009, deaths emanating from alcohol-related car crashes was 1 in every 50 minutes! Drunk teenagers’ road recklessness continues to claim major newspaper headlines slots: teenagers car racing… four people dead; an elderly man mowed down by an over speeding drunk driver… as a result, the most needed (and limited) policing time is wasted trying to investigate each case of hit-and-run so that so much time that could otherwise be used to carry out more important and unavoidable cases is lost unproductively. In addition, courts waste most of their limited time presiding over evitable accidents. When this happens, the family, friends and communities of the victims suffer the greatest pain when a teenager with promising future perishes in a grizzly automobile accident because of alcohol consumption (Isralowitz 193). Therefore, the society should take measures to curb the menace of drug instead of lying in wait until it is a close kin who turns out to be the victim. One of these ways of curbing drug abuse is reducing the negative influence mass media has on drug abuse in the society.
Blackman, Shane. Chilling Out: The Cultural Politics of Substance Consumption, Youth and Drug Policy. Maidenhead, Berkshire [u.a.: Open University Press, 2004. Print.
Calvert, Sandra L, and Barbara J. Wilson. The Handbook of Children, Media, and Development. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. Print.
Isralowitz, Richard. Drug Use, Policy, and Management. Westport, Conn: Auburn House, 2002. Print.
Jewkes, Yvonne. Media and Crime. London: SAGE, 2004. Print.
Kirsh, Steven J. Media and Youth: A Developmental Perspective. Chichester, U.K: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Internet resource.
Moore, Lisa J, and Mary Kosut. The Body Reader: Essential Social and Cultural Readings. New York: New York University Press, 2010. Print.
Nelson, David E. Teen Drug Abuse. Detroit: Gale Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.
Roleff, Tamara L. Drug Abuse: Opposing Viewpoints. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2005. Print.
Sloboda, Zili. Epidemiology of Drug Abuse. New York, NY: Springer, 2005. Internet resource.