Hey everyone! I can't believe I'm already on my third round of research for my inquiry question! Speaking of which, my question this cycle is...
Does socially accepting drug addiction affect its usage among consumers positively or negatively?
Last week, I focused on the positive effects of socially accepting drug addiction. Can you guess what I'm going to do this week? Hint: it's the opposite of the positive effects.
Let's get started!
Right now, our society is said to be more accepting of drug use than ever before. In pop culture, recreational drug use is glorified, particularly in rap music. If we were to take the 38 most popular rap songs between 1979 and 1984, only 11% contained drug references. However, by the late 80s, this number increased to 19 %; by 1993, to 69 percent. A study conducted in 2008 analyzed a list of the 279 most popular songs of 2005. The results revealed that substance use was referred to in 77% of rap songs. This is the highest percentage among all music genres included in the study.
The problem with taking the meaning of songs in pop culture at face value is that it may leave the impression that drugs are the gateway to socializing and having fun. This is not unnecessarily untrue; however, the negative consequences are not accurately portrayed which may lead to a misrepresentation of all that entails drug use (1)(2)
Nevertheless, there is a difference between glorification and acceptance and it is important to understand the differences. Songs that describe the 'great aspects' of being high and using drugs glorify drug use. Those that speak out about the difficulties of addiction and giving a platform for discussion about drug use are songs that introduce the idea of social acceptance. A good example of a song that does this is Macklemore's song "The Unruly Mess I've Made." In this song, he talks about his struggles with addiction. He says, "I abused prescription drugs and battled addiction. If I hadn’t gotten the help I needed when I needed it, I might not be here today. And I want to help others facing the same challenges I did.” (3)
Macklemore and President Obama meeting in the White House to discuss his song and message.
Effect on Children:
Although it is difficult to accurately foresee any effects on children since this situation is hypothetical, there is a significant chance that children may not fully comprehend the extent to which drugs can affect one's life. Because of pop culture and social media, children and teens are already facing this consequence. The University of Albany recently conducted a study on this topic and this is what they found.
- "40% had viewed pictures on social media depicting teens and adolescents drinking, passed out, or using drugs
- 50% of viewers saw such images when they were 13 or younger
- 90% first viewed the photos when they were 15 or younger
- Teens who viewed pictures on social media depicting substance abuse were at a higher risk to abuse substances:
- Three times more likely to use alcohol
- Four times more likely to obtain and/or use marijuana
- Close to three times more likely to have controlled prescription drugs without a prescription" (4)(5)
I thought this chart would be interesting to add as it shows drug use among teens now - when drugs are not socially accepted by everyone. Do you think social acceptance would encourage children to use drugs?
As of now, it is difficult for me to say whether I think the positives outweigh the negatives or not as there is not a lot of concrete evidence. However, I think that understanding the difference between glorification and social acceptance will be a determining factor of whether or not this idea would be successful or not. Evidently, Portugal's decriminalization has seen fantastic results, but it is not guaranteed that all countries would receive the same result, so all information is more or less subjective.
I hope you all learned something new from my research and enjoyed reading. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments. Thank you for reading!