Drugs and the Media: The Skewed Reality
Drug use and addiction are portrayed much differently in the media than what really goes on in our lives. Granted, there are some commercials, news reports, and documentaries that shine a light on the effects of drug abuse but is that really enough? Back in the 1950s, cigarette companies were brave enough to advertise that their products were not dangerous. In fact, one ad even stated: “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.” The A-list actors and actresses – James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn, and Marilyn Monroe – were shown smoking. Today, it is the TV shows, movies, and celebrities that make light of drug use and abuse. The cigarette companies no longer have to put out some slick new ad campaign because the media outlets are all unwitting accomplices that do the dirty work for them.
The entertainment industry has always made an impact on its viewers’ lives through TV shows, movies, and celebrities. Sometimes they make us happy while at other times we get sad or angry. The bottom line is that they entertain us and we crave what they deliver. Here’s the issue, the industry is saturated with drug use and illicit substance abuse that is sadly represented as being hip, non-consequential, and ultimately, trivializes the real issue. I was talking to a friend about a TV show that was heavily based on a life of crime and the production and selling of methamphetamines. He commented, “I know he’s bad, but I still like him. I always end up rooting for him.” This is but a small example of the effect the media has on its viewers. We know that it is bad but the media piques our interest enough that we can justify our experimenting with the drugs and/or substances we see portrayed on screen or in real life. Celebrities glamorize drugs. How many times have we seen celebrities get a slap on the wrist for their drug abuse or DUI? It should be easy to see how a person can say to himself, “If they can do it, why can’t I?” That’s all it takes to convince someone to experiment for the first time.
Let it be your job to be a smart parent or friend to help remind our loved ones that drug use should not be taken lightly. If you or a loved one needs help, please do not hesitate to contact us for support, help, and treatment programs.