Apart from traditional advertising, TV programs and movies show substance abuse in a way that is positive, many people will assume that because it’s not seen as an advertisement it means that it’s less worthy of criticism. However, this is simply not the case. Young people are constantly receiving mixed messages about substance abuse, and the media is not doing a good job of fanning the flames, either. These days, teenagers are more likely to see an alcohol ad than to see a public service announcement that discourages underage drinking. Pretty astonishing, right? Rest assured, not everyone is turning a blind eye to this. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended a ban on all tobacco advertising in all media, and limitations on alcohol advertising, in hopes of protecting young children from the content shown in TV’s and movies. As a provider of drug and alcohol addiction treatment, the team at Southeast Addiction is not only committed to treating patients for substance and alcohol abuse. Teaching prevention methods and spreading awareness of the dangers amongst youth is also of equal importance. Here’s why romanticizing drug use in film and tv is dangerous.

The Gateway-Cigarettes and Alcohol

In our media, smokers are often portrayed as young, rebellious types, who seldom give into the adverse effects of smoking. Don’t let these depictions fool you. Did you know that more than 400,000 Americans die every year from illnesses related to the use of cigarettes, according to data published by the CDC? Unfortunately, the grim data doesn’t stop here. Additional research has shown that one of the most important factors in the onset of adolescent abuse is exposure to others who use drugs and alcohol, with tv and movie usage of the substance acting as a big proponent for teens to do it themselves. 

Despite the slight dip of smoking in popular flicks, the occurrence is still on the higher end of the spectrum. Alcohol has remained the number one drug portrayed on American television. In fact, 1 drinking scene is shown every 22 minutes, compared with 1 smoking scene every 57 minutes and 1 illicit drug use scene every 112 minutes. More than a ⅓ of these drinking scenes are shown as humorous, while the negative consequences are only displayed 23% of the time. Imagine what this could look like if your family and friends were showing the same behaviors. 

The importance of how TV and movies influence youth and adolescents is highly relevant, because these acts can have consequences on their behaviors for the rest of their lives, with early interventions being crucial to stop the behavior dead in its tracks. To say it’s surprising that Hollywood execs have not picked up on this would be an understatement. Humor and substance abuse issues can be conflated and, if left unchecked, could continue to land more people in facilities for drug and alcohol addiction treatment.

The Dangers Of Celebrity Endorsements For Substance Use

The specific actions and recommendations of celebrities will also have a major impact on people’s poor decisions. Continued research in neuroscience has discovered that celebrity endorsements activate brain regions that are involved in forming positive associations, building trust, and encoding memories. Essentially, our sources of entertainment could also be our downfall, since there is a contribution to the risk of engaging in substance use. This is where celebs need to take a step back and closely evaluate the impact of the messages they send to their followers. Many people have reason to believe that a decrease in the exposure to drugs and alcohol through cinema, media, and music, will cut down on many of the negative health effects associated with the current state of glamorization. Moreover, it will reduce cases of substance abuse, overdose, death, and dependency on drug and alcohol addiction treatment.

Romanticizing Deviant Behavior Does Addiction No Favors

Addiction is an incredibly dangerous and potentially deadly disease that affects millions of people. Transforming it into a romanticized art only adds to that danger, unless the information is used for educational purposes. But this can be viewed as an oxymoron, as art is meant to be deciphered as something that’s meaningful, whether the message is positive or negative. There is nothing glamorous about putting all the value in your life on a substance. When films pair characters who struggle with addiction, it actually minimizes the addiction. The films will try to justify these predicaments by lumping a bunch of characters together who are dealing with the same addiction, perhaps they’re seeking drug and alcohol addiction treatment, together. While supporting each other in a therapeutic setting is very much a real thing, that comes later when said individual has already taken or is in the process of working on getting sober. Addiction is not a plot for your favorite film, it stands front and center in many people’s lives and is very real. 

Coming Out On Top With Drug And Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Fortunately, no one has to endure the destruction of substance abuse, even if modern cinema acts as a trigger. Addiction is not a normal part of our culture. Southeast Addiction will provide comprehensive solutions for drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Our treatment programs are tailored to patients with all kinds of lifestyles. To get started with treatment, contact us today! 

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