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Media and Reinforcing Addictive Behavior

We see it every day on TV, in music, and in the movies: glorification of addictive behaviors. How many times have the following scenarios been exalted?

  •        Young people, often underage, get “wasted” at a party and have tons of fun.
  •        Famous people use drugs and enter into one-night stands and relationships with beautiful people.
  •        Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are depicted as an exciting, thrilling experience.
  •        Abusing alcohol is seen as a rite of passage that “everyone” goes through.
  •        The world of illegal drug use and selling of drugs is praised or seen as cool.
  •        Drug and alcohol abusers are worshiped as heroes, and their stories are meant to excite listeners or viewers.

For those in the recovery community, the media and addiction portrayal circumstances listed above are horrifying. Not only do they normalize drug and alcohol use, but they also contribute to the problem of alcoholism and drug addiction in the country. How to Avoid the Pressures of Media and Addiction Portrayal To help the next generation understand there is nothing thrilling about true addiction, it is important for all of us to remind ourselves the way that the media portrays addicts is inaccurate. In fact, addiction of any kind:

  •          Can lead to brain damage, medical problems, and, in many cases, early death.
  •          Creates a cycle of self-abuse, as well as abuse of loved ones.
  •          Can encourage addicts to commit activities that are immoral, unethical, or illegal.
  •          Can lead to loss of jobs, relationships, homes, cars, property, etc.
  •          Takes way the joys of life for people of all ages and from all socioeconomic, religious, and academic backgrounds.

By keeping these facts in mind, we can still enjoy watching television programs or listening to our favorite tunes, but with the understanding that what we’re hearing or seeing is not true-to-life in any capacity. The Future of Media and Addiction Portrayal The media’s obsession with drugs and alcohol has been around for decades, so it is unlikely the underlying sense of “coolness” when it comes to binge drinking or “experimenting” with drugs will go away. We are therefore left to change the way we react to the mixed messages being sent. If any of us have fallen away from a healthy lifestyle and found ourselves in the grips of an addiction, it is essential to get help. One phone call to a recovery center can transform our lives. If after rehab we’re not able to watch certain shows or hear certain music without being tempted to relapse, we just have to accept that fact. Or, for those among us who are artists, perhaps we can start a new type of entertainment that glorifies sobriety rather than activities that could trigger addictive behaviors. Photo via  

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