When 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.
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, drug and alcohol 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.