By Madina Safdari
Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, and Prince are just a few of the many who have died from overdosing on drugs. However, it seems as though their deaths are not enough to instill change to the way drugs are perceived and endorsed in the media.
Despite the tens of thousands of people who have died from drug overdoses, the prominence of drugs in music and movies remains substantial. For the most part, drugs are glorified in music and entertainment as being rewarding, enjoyable, and having little to no consequences.
Taking that into consideration, the number of people in America with alcohol and drug addiction is considerably high. As of 2011, 23 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs, according to Defining the Addiction Treatment Gap.
Given the massive amount of people affected by addiction, it is hard to believe that music and movies continue to depict drugs and alcohol as effortlessly as they do. For instance, Lil’ Wayne and Snoop Dogg, among many other artists, are notorious for their portrayal of drugs and alcohol not only in their music, but as a part of their lifestyles that they promote on social media.
In fact, a study done by the University of Albany reported that 40 percent of people had viewed pictures on social media depicting teens and adolescents drunk, passed out, or using drugs.
The normalization of drug use within popular culture is a driving factor in drug usage and addiction within teens that can manifest throughout their lives. Forty seven percent of teens agreed that movies and TV shows made drugs seem acceptable to use according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
However, this glorification is not exclusive to music. Movies like “The Hangover” and “21 Jump Street” are centered around binge drinking. The lively party scenes filled with drinking and drugs portray the idea that substances can be used to have fun, be carefree, and blissful for a mere moment.
What these songs and movies fail to show is the realistic side of substance abuse and the varying effects it can have on mental and physical health. Instead, a more accurate depiction of drug usage should be spread rather than the simplified one there is now.
On the contrary to the popular portrayal of drugs and alcohol, there has been conscious efforts taken in raising the awareness of addiction and drug usage.
For instance, hip hop artist Macklemore recently released a song titled “Drug Dealer,” featuring Ariana Deboo, in which he discusses the damaging effects of prescription drugs and its ties to the greed of pharmaceutical companies. Moreover, Macklemore has presented the negative effects of drug usage in many of his other songs like “Otherside” and “Starting Over,” considering he has had an extensive and public battle with addiction.
In addition to Macklemore, rapper Schoolboy Q also released a song specifically condemning the use of prescription drugs titled “Prescription/Oxymoron.” Having experienced his own addiction to drugs, the song discusses the negative physical effects of drugs, as well as its effect on life and relationships.
Subsequently, the continuous exposure of the negative effects of drug abuse is necessary in order to educate and combat the overwhelming amount of false information and glorification concerning drugs by providing a realistic depiction of its tumultuous effects.
Though they seem miniscule, the aforementioned attempts to change the endorsement of drugs can create a lasting impression. Without a more concentrated effort, the effects of drug usage will be more evident in communities, not just celebrity lives.