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drug and alcohol abuse

Technology and Media and Its Effect on Drug and Alcohol Abuse

technologyWhen addressing the problem of drug and alcohol abuse in this country it is important to study what actions may contribute to the problem, and what actions may help reduce or eliminate the problem. For example, effective drug education may help to greatly reduce the incidence of drug and alcohol abuse among adolescents and young adults. It follows, then, that one must understand what “effective” drug education is, as the attempts to guilt individuals out of drug use on moral grounds was altogether ineffective, as was trying to scare individuals away from drug use by sharing alarming stories. The most successful drug education has been found to be the drug education that details the facts of individual drugs and their effects on the body and mind after long-term use.

Technology and media have allowed the world to connect more thoroughly than ever before, which could be of benefit when trying to educate individuals in truth about drugs and their effects. It could also be disastrous in view of the fact that many people can spread their opinion on drugs to a worldwide audience that may accept these opinions as fact.

Pros and cons of technology and media as regards preventing drug and alcohol abuse

CON – Influence by popularity

Many individuals have indicated that peer pressure was the primary reason behind their initial drug use. Many teenagers find it difficult to be the only sober individual in a group where “everyone else” is using drugs or alcohol. Technology and media can further spread the idea that drug-use is widespread and acceptable. In fact, many websites are created by individuals who support the use of drugs and spread their opinion on why drugs are useful, helpful or necessary. Such websites often also provide a forum for individuals to share tips on how to get the “best highs” from drug use.

CON – Substance abuse modeled on television shows

It is a fact that watching television is a major part of American life. Young individuals who watch TV; characters smoke, drink or take drugs as a normal part of their lives may come to feel that such behaviors and actions are natural or acceptable. Unless such substance abuse is a major part of the story, rarely are the dangerous consequences outlined or discussed in the show. Furthermore, some drugs are depicted as “harmless getaways” in shows – like marijuana in That 70’s Show – when in actual fact this is an addictive drug with many harmful side effects.

CON – Advertisements of cigarette and alcohol use

Advertisements of cigarette and alcohol use occur regularly in the media, and are often presented in such a way that cigarettes or alcohol appear very attractive and desirable. Studies have shown that commercials aimed at a specific target audience do usually affect that audience. An adolescent may not realize the golden drink being poured into the glass in the commercial is alcoholic, they just find it attractive and enticing.

PRO – Exposure to true drug stories

With the increased interest in true TV stories and shows, there have been more presentations of issues that cause human harm or suffering and are largely based on scientific facts and research. A show that discusses the truth about drugs and their harmful effects on the body and mind can help enlighten individuals.

PRO – Easy access to answers

Provided the individual goes to the right sources, they can be presented with many factual and useful answers for resolving their problems with substance abuse and addiction, including information about local rehabilitation facilities. In fact, Drug Rehab Services has created a free iPhone and Android application that can allow an individual to find local AA or NA meetings, treatment facilities or counseling services. The free application can be downloaded at http://addicted.org/app-for-iphone-and-android-drs.html

It is true that technology and media can have a positive effect on the problem of substance abuse in this country by educating individuals in the facts about drugs and their efforts and providing valuable resources to those in need. However, substance abuse must not be glorified in any way, and the plain facts about drugs and their effects must be presented, eliminating false information and opinion from those who would gladly support further substance abuse.

1 Comment

  • Walter

    I agree with this article 100%. I think that although it has not been proven effective to ban drugs, as they are still quite accessible, it is noted that if there was not so much attention on the use of addictive substances the incidence of use would probably go down I would say. I know for a fact that if when I was younger if it had not been everywhere, and my attention had been focused on more pro-survival activities, I probably would not have used drugs and alcohol. I never really liked them when I used them, but I did it because of all of the media that I did see. Also, the more prevalent it is in the media and our environment, the more people will use as it is socially acceptable and there is a lot of group agreement on that aspect. I also agree that the “horror stories” were not effective as many young people disassociate themselves from the “other people” and have a “that won’t happen to me attitude.” Where as if you were just to get them the true data and show them all of the effects on the body as well as a person’s mind, it makes the drugs WAY less appealing. That is just my opinion, but I would definitely like to see the media focusing their attention on this aspect instead of being the worst influences.

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