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The Role of (Social) Media in Modern Day Drug Culture

One of the reasons drug and alcohol abuse are prevalent in today’s society is due to the media and its influence on individuals in our modern culture. The internet--primarily social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others--consistently connect individuals whom may post images and personal drug experiences without outlining the dangers.

Other forms of media, such as movies and television, also show content that involves drugs and alcohol and may not highlight the adverse effects associated therein.

The Power of Facebook and Social Media

As one of the most used online platforms, Facebook is capable of putting users in touch with other users and even with drug dealers. Some not-so-intelligent individuals have used the sites as a way to peddle drugs. The Digital Trends’ article, Meet social media’s drug dealers, also known as ‘The Stupidest People On The Internet’, details some rather unscrupulous fellow’s antics of trying to sell marijuana on Facebook. He’s not alone, and Facebook is not the only site affected.

There’s also a movement of glamorizing drug culture on Instagram. The junkies of Instagram post photos of spoons, drugs, and needles all over the site, along with identifying hashtags, such as #nodsquad and #junkiesofIG. Many of these images are meant to entice users into buying the product directly from the Instagrammer/dealer.

The Effects of Drug Culture in Social Media on Our Youths

This trend has a negative impact on today’s youth. According to Rehab International, “In 2013, approximately 24.6 million Americans over the age of 11 were current illicit drug users.”

A CASAColumbia survey found that:

“40% of all teens surveyed have seen pictures on Facebook, Myspace or other social networking sites of kids getting drunk, passed out, or using drugs. Half of teens who have seen pictures of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs on Facebook and other social networking sites first saw such pictures when they were 13 years of age or younger; more than 90% first saw such pictures when they were 15 or younger.”

Teens exposed to such images are three times more likely to use alcohol and four times more likely to use marijuana as compared to their counterparts who had not seen such images on social media.
They also were much more liable to have friends and classmates who abuse prescription medications and illegal drugs. Possibly due to these connections, and their connections on social media, they also have a much easier time accessing the drugs and alcohol.

Drug Culture in Music, Movies, and Television

Other media such as music, movies, and television also play a role in drug culture. According to a 2011 John Hopkins report, Media and Adolescent Substance Abuse, “of movies adolescents tend to watch, 93 percent portray alcohol use and 22 percent reference illicit drugs. On television, alcohol is the number one drug portrayed, appearing on 77 percent of TV episodes…On music videos, alcohol shows up every 14 minutes.”

Furthermore, the context of the drug use is generally of a positive nature, which is the real draw for youths. Approximately one-third of drinking scenes on television are humorous and portray attractive, successful characters. Less than a quarter of these scenes show any negative consequences.

However, in this case, life does not imitate art. There are serious consequences associated with drug and alcohol abuse. Symptoms of addiction include ramifications in your relationships, increased risky behavior, legal issues associated with use, overdose, and withdrawal. If you or someone you know has issues with substance abuse, seek help. It’s never too late.