Media, Drugs and Alcohol

By Nicole Tan and Sonia Wang

The media's influence on the adolescents, drugs and alcohol in the society

  • The media is an overall word for the many types of technology used for communication
  • Drugs are substances, some which can be used as medication. Many are addictive and have strong effects on the human body including the brain and central nervous system
  • Alcohol is a flammable liquid which is intoxicating and is often used in liquors. It has a strong smell

The Media's Influence On Alcohol Use By Adolescents In Society

Media has had, and continues to have dramatic impacts on alcohol intake in the society, especially in the youth.

With 98% of the teenagers worldwide with access to some sort of social networking site, the internet has become both a positive and negative impacts for the youth today. One of the negative impacts include the influence it has on teenagers and alcohol use in the society.

According to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII, conducted in 2012 by QEV analytics LTD:

  • 63% of the teenagers that have seen images of other teenagers drinking on social networking sites encourages them or others to want to drink
  • 47% of those who have seen images as such say that the individuals pictured seem to be enjoying themselves
  • Youth who have seen photos of others their age drinking or passing out are nearly three times more likely to drink (43% compared to 13%)
  • Teenagers who have seen these photos are more than two times more likely to have friends who drink frequently (60% compared to 25%)

Modern music also proves to have a heavy impact on teenagers and alcohol. Studies have shown that a typical youth can spend from 2.5 to 4 hours daily, listening to music whether it be from the radio, iPod, phone or via websites.

  • A study has shown that one in three popular songs have references of some sort to substance and alcohol use

  • Studies from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Denise Herd of Berkeley's School of Public Health showed that rap music is the genre that mentions the most about alcohol or other substance use, with 77%. This is followed by country music with 36%, hip hop and R&B with 20%, rock songs with 14% and finally pop music with just 9%.
  • As of September- October 2013, a study by Liverpool John Moores University states that one in five songs in the UK top ten have alcohol related lyrics, which is double the number as ten years ago
  • Media ‘glamorises’ drinking and alcohol use, sending across incorrect messages about the topic. The lyrics by the artists encourage and persuade listeners to try because it is ‘fun’ and ‘cool’ but do not tell of the consequences which may arise
  • A typical teenager is reported to be exposed listening at least 84 references of substance and alcohol use every day
  • Well known songs which contain the theme of alcohol use include ‘Last Friday Night’ by Katy Perry, ‘Tik Tok’ by Kesha and ‘Cheers’ by Rihanna

Advertisements have also been another major aspect which encourages teenagers to drink. Alcohol commercials can be found in many places, especially in media which are frequently visited by youth. They include online websites, during television breaks and in magazines

  • Studies have shown that Alcohol companies spend more than 1.7 billion dollars on advertisements in the media per year
  • Studies have shown that brands with high advertising expenditures are the brands that teenagers tend to like the most
  • Youth who constantly see alcohol advertisements tend to have a more positive view on drinking and start drinking at a younger age than those who do not see similar advertisements often
  • It has been reported that for each advertisement seen by a teenager, he/she will drink 1% more
  • Youth drink 3% more for each extra dollar per capita spent on advertising by alcohol companies
  • A study in 2005 stated that youth are attracted to advertisements by alcohol companies which include famous actors or animals as characters
  • Another research in 2005 has proved that due to brain developments in the teenage years, youth tend to be drawn to alcohol brands and advertisements which show dangerous behaviour due to the want of thrill
  • Polls done in the U.S in the late 1900s and early 2000s have proved that alcohol advertising is a main contributor to youth drinking alcohol and underage drinking

The Media's Infuence On Drug Use By Adolescents In The Society

Many individuals are victims of drugs in society. However, one group that has been and continues to be targeted by the media are the teenagers. One main influence of drug use by adolescents around the world is the media. The 'media' involves many forms of communication methods including social networking sites and the internet; music videos and music; advertising on billboards, the internet and in magazines and so on.

According to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII, conducted by QEV analytics LTD in August 2012:

  • Teenagers who have seen media and social networking sites with images of other teens who use drugs are almost three times more likelier to use tobacco than those who have rarely seen images with individuals with drugs
  • 47% of the teenagers who have seen images of individuals using drugs and illegal substances think the people in the photos are having a good time
  • Teenagers aged 16 and 17 are more likely to think this than younger teenagers aged from 12 to 15

  • 63% of all rap songs refer to illegal drugs in some way
  • Youth listen to many songs today which contain references to illegal substance use or drugs. The lyrics persuade them that taking drugs are fun and enjoyable
  • Songs include 'Rehab' by Amy Winehouse and 'The A Team' by Ed Sheeran
  • Music videos always often show parties with drugs present, or some type of inclusion of drugs which give teenagers the idea that drugs are enjoyable and harmless
  • Famous celebrities and professional athletes are being arrested every day for drug use but are not being noticed or 'told off' due to their fame and wealth

  • According to the Journal of the National Medical Association, recent studies have shown that adolescents exposed to greater amounts of tobacco are more likely to use it.
  • Tobacco advertisements target youth because starting smoking/drugs at an early age will increase the probability that the habit will continue to an older age.


- Jim Carrey