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Teens and Drugs: Advertising’s Influence on Teen Drug Use

The relationship between teens and drugs has been around for generations, but it’s now becoming evident how TV advertisements correlate to rising teen drug use statistics.  This emergence of teenagers getting hooked on prescription drugs as a result of influence from media outlets is concerning.  It’s noticeable how societal pressures already exist for these adolescents.  Therefore, the media sending subliminal mixed messages only leaves more room to complicate matters by encouraging adolescents to abuse drugs.

More: NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse

Teens and Drugs

While prescription drug abuse is a public health concern worth addressing on its own, younger generations are greatly affected, according to researchers from University of Arkansas and the University of Virginia.  “Prescription drugs are seen as blessed by a trusted institution, the FDA, while increasingly aggressive advertising by drug companies simultaneously floods parents and children with messages that these substances are safe, popular, and beneficial,”  stated Richard Netemeyer, Ph.D.

The dangers of advertising often go unnoticed.  As part of the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI: Teens and Parents, the 16th annual back-to-school survey was held by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University and it revealed that teens between the ages of 12 and 17 who used  social networking sites had a greater likelihood of experimenting with substances like alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, and marijuana because of the advertising.

The survey also found that 70% of teens on average use social media sites daily. Knowing this, we can see how these kinds of advertisements could influence a younger audience because they are being seen and even shared repeatedly by many viewers at once.

When it comes to prescription drugs, this concept of “safety” often leads many individuals to believe its okay to take  medication, even if it isn’t prescribed for them. There’s a common misconception that it’s safer than abusing other types of illegal drugs.  The reality is prescription drug abuse is equally as dangerous and potentially fatal as the abuse of any other substance.  In spite of this, 52 million people age 12 and over abused pharmaceutical drugs during 2011 according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Effective Solution for Helping Teens

An effective approach for helping teens might be to reach out to them on a personal level by first starting the conversation of drug use and addiction. Provide teens the opportunity to be part of the discussion, instead of letting the serious issues go ignored.  Giving the younger generation the chance to voice their comments and concerns while showing them that this is a serious issue in society can also let them know support is available.  As a result, adolescents might be less inclined to act out by self-medicating.  The younger generation can then work through their problems by learning to discuss them, work on them through cognitive behavioral therapies, and eventually come to see the patterns on their own in their thinking problems.

However, self-medicating with substances should not be confused with an actual drug addiction.  Addiction is a brain disease and not a behavioral problem.  Although the media and society may have a large impact on the younger generation and advertising may significantly correlate with drug use, addiction is an illness needing to be treated like one.

Do you suspect your loved one is suffering from an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs?  Contact The Watershed today.  If you are feeling hopeless, then just know you are not alone and recovery is possible for sick and suffering addicted individuals.  Call now at 1-866-439-5959.

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