The Drugs and Popular Culture



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Drugs and Popular Culture

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Drugs and Popular Culture

            Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is a TV show created by Dick Wolf and narrates how the Special Victims Unit detectives explore the dark side of the New York underworld. The New York underworld is characterized by sexually-oriented crimes, including domestic violence, pedophilia, and rape (AfterBuzz TV, 2014). A raid by detectives into these neighborhoods overwhelmed with sexual crimes reveals that individuals involved in sex crimes are also involved in selling drugs, doing drugs, or needing drugs. The detectives present a case of a mother in these neighborhoods, who they probed for selling opioids and drug use. While exploring her home, the detectives realize that the mother and her children live in an unsafe environment. The detectives term the environment dirty with rooms containing human excrement and bug-infested mattresses (AfterBuzz TV, 2014). The Child Protective Services thus resolves to take away the kids because they understand that the mother, in her condition, cannot do much for them. From the above events, it is clear that the above TV show repudiates both the sale and use of drugs as their effects are disappointing and saddening.

            Notably, the above TV show portrays neighborhoods dominated by African Americans as the most rampant in cases of sexual crime, drug use, and drug sale. The latter leads to the notion of culture and racial stereotypes in the United States. The American population, especially the whites, view African Americans as perpetrators of crimes. The blacks are also seen as dangerous, and this is demonstrated by the fact that the detectives go to these neighborhoods in large numbers and are heavily armed. Cultural or racial stereotyping is toxic to society as it lowers the dignity of the black individuals in the US and leads to their mental illnesses. It also breaks togetherness between the blacks and the whites, leading to divisions in society.

            The article Media/Marketing Influences on Adolescent and Young Adult Substance Abuse was written by Jackson et al. in 2018. The authors of the article investigate how substance use portrayals in media and marketing channels lead to the increased exposure of young adults and adolescents to Marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, and e-cigarette (Jackson, Janssen, & Gabrielli, 2018). The study was conducted by interviewing adolescents and young adults who had successfully undergone rehabilitation and reviewing feedbacks available in teen reports (Jackson, Janssen, & Gabrielli, 2018). The interview results revealed that half of the survey population had seen or heard marijuana commercials in the past thirty days in movies and music. According to Jackson et al., more than half of seventh-graders confessed to having been exposed to alcohol media content for the past three months. In addition, the young adults reported to have been impressed by alcohol brand commercials in digital marketing channels such as Instagram and Facebook. Furthermore, according to the teen reports, a considerable number of teens claimed to like the image on tobacco packets. According to these teens, the image which revealed a smartly-dressed man enjoying smoking while crisscrossing his legs made them feel that tobacco is associated with riches and pleasure (Jackson, Janssen, & Gabrielli, 2018). As a result, the latter enticed them to try out smoking with hopes of having fun and becoming rich sooner in their lives.

            The above article by Jackson et al. presents excellent evidence bridging media portrayals of drug utilization and the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs by young individuals in the US. First, the evidence is reliable because it is sourced from adolescents and individuals who were once addicts of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. Thus, these individuals have a clear history starting when they initialized the use of psychoactive substances (Jackson, Janssen, & Gabrielli, 2018). In addition, the evidence is strong because each individual openly narrates how the tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana commercials lured them to try these substances for the first time. Moreover, according to Jackson et al., tobacco companies were banned from advertising cigarettes via magazines and pro-tobacco ads in stores that were readily accessible to the youth. However, in an attempt to capture a larger population of customers, which is comprised of youths, the tobacco companies adapted shifting platforms to escape restrictions by the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. For instance, the tobacco industry moved tobacco commercials and images to the media, dominated by youths and with minimal regulations. As a result, this increased the youths’ chances of viewing these ads, thus tempting them to try smoking (Jackson, Janssen, & Gabrielli, 2018). Moreover, many alcohol industries have incorporated favorable images on their brand that associate alcohol consumption with sexual, social, and financial success. In an attempt to ensure that more customers, especially the youth, will prefer their brand, these industries have avoided incorporating the hazards associated with alcohol consumption in their commercials (Jackson, Janssen, & Gabrielli, 2018). Consequently, this increases the chances of the majority of the youths falling for these adverts and sooner or later finding themselves to be addicts of ATOD. These actions by psychoactive drug industries emerge to be excellent strategies to lure the youths, making the evidence compelling. 

            Through its regulative agencies, I believe that the government should create strict guidelines to curb the exposure of the youths to media portrayals of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The government should fine heavily alcohol industries illegally marketing their brands by posting ads on the media which is prohibited. To enhance more effectiveness of this strategy, the government should revoke licenses of companies involved in the violation of the guidelines. The government should also develop a digital marketing surveillance team to investigate ATOD companies using digital platforms to make fishy and illegal adverts. Organizations found to do these malicious acts should be banned from advertising their brands. The latter will enhance discipline and strict adherence to the laid down guidelines by the ATOD companies. Consequently, the government will have minimized youths’ exposure to commercials, which will lead to minimal cases of drug abuse among the youths.




















AfterBuzz TV. (2014). Law And Order: SVU After Show [Video]. Retrieved from 

Jackson, K. M., Janssen, T., & Gabrielli, J. (2018). Media/marketing influences on adolescent and Young Adult Substance abuse. Current Addiction Reports, 5(2), 146-157. doi:10.1007/s40429-018-0199-6













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