The persisting question in the fight against alcohol and drug abuse among college students has always been the role of movies and TV series. Technology is taking over how we interact and how we get entertained. As a result, students have immense and largely unfiltered content on various platforms. From theater to TV and Music, regular references are made to illicit substances.
Sometimes, students viewing the material are not even aware of the references, and they absorb the information subliminally. Recently, the debate on preventing drug abuse has narrowed on the possible impact of such media on students and whether there can be benefits. In this article, we look at the possible negative and positive implications of movies on student behavior as relates to drug abuse.
How Serious Is the Problem?
Movies and TV shows tend to portray substance abuse as a positive thing, with minimal or no indication of the negative consequences that tend to accompany such behavior. The outcome is that such portrayals can send mixed messages to students regarding substance abuse. In fact, recent studies show that messages in movies and TV shows are responsible for about 30% of alcohol and drug misuse by young adults.
In a recent publication analyzed the role of the movies in initiating students and teenagers to drugs. According to the publication, it has emerged that advertising plays a pivotal role, particularly when it comes to such drugs as alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs. Of course, movies do much more damage as they can distract students from working on assignments, hence the surge in the number of students seeking custom paper writing service online.
Other than advertising, movies, and television programs depict substance abuse in ways that generally seem positive. However, the focus has been so much on advertisements that such movies and their impact go unnoticed. As a result, young people are being exposed to mixed information regarding taking part in substance abuse. In fact, students today are more likely to be exposed to information that glorifies alcohol and drug abuse than to see presentations that discourage underage alcohol use.
Alcohol and Cigarettes in Movies as the Starting Point
Studies have shown that adolescents who drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes are more likely to transition into harder substances like marijuana and cocaine. The young age at which trialing occurs enhances the likelihood of serious health complications later in life. In movies, smokers and those who take alcohol are often portrayed as rebellious, free, audacious, and healthy. Rarely are the negative aftermaths of smoking shown.
It is despite data that shows that more than 400,000 people die from complications directly linked to smoking in the United States alone. Remember, alcohol and cigarette use are the main gateway drugs that students start with before transitioning to other substances. Also, research shows that contact with movies and TV content that depicts alcohol use is one of the main elements pushing teenagers into drug abuse.
The significance of how movies and TV shows influence young students is very relevant, given that it has implications on their long-term behavior. Solutions are, therefore, required to mitigate these effects.
The Damaging Impact
An important aspect of our analysis relates to the possibility of turning drug depiction in movies into a positive thing. Although attempts have been made to demonstrate that binge drinking and drug abuse as harmful, prevalent portrayals in movies and TV shows contradict this image. Images and situations depicted in movies are among the strongest influencers of student behavior.
Those who have watched movies where alcohol consumption and smoking are depicted positively are more likely to try drugs, compared to when parents drink at home. Although these risky behaviors are shown as fun and glamorous in movies, they are causes of serious mental and physical health problems.
Can Movies Educate and Prevent Drug Abuse?
Of course, there is no denying that the positive depiction of alcohol misuse in movies and TV shows can have negative implications on the behavior of students. However, in the recent past, researchers have begun to explore whether movies can be used to influence good behavior when it comes to drugs. It has been postulated that showing the serious negative implications of drug use can serve a deterrent effect. Would it be enough to scare students off?
The main challenge with the way movies and TV shows depict alcohol and drug abuse lies mostly in the fact that the adverse implications are seldom shown. However, evidence shows that when the negative sides are depicted as serious as they can be, teens are likely to think twice before indulging. In other words, by encouraging teens to watch drug documentaries that highlight the serious negative effects, we can deter abuse.
In sum, most there is consensus that the normalization of drugs in movies and TV shows has serious implications for teenagers and young adults. While we need to avoid such normalization, depicting the serious negative impacts of drug abuse can help with deterring such behavior.