The lion, the witch and the wardrobe: Starring the teen, drugs and the media


Teenagers are often likely to be highly impressionable as they form their identity in the years leading up to young adulthood. This can include influences from a wide range of sources, including the Internet, as well as television and popular music. Young people are constantly exposed to messages about alcohol, as well as tobacco and marijuana. For instance, a commercial advertising alcohol will often portray as a means of relaxation for adults. Yet adolescent use of alcohol, tobacco or controlled substances can have consequences.

Related studies

A recent study has stated just more than half of 12th-graders in high school have tried alcohol. Alcohol is extremely common in film and, as the study finds, 93 percent of videos teens tend to watch, and 22 percent of videos teens look at reference illicit drugs. However, controlled substances are shown in much lower numbers in this case, at just more than 20 percent overall. Alcohol is shown in just more than three-fourths of television shows, with 33 percent showing drinking with attractive characters and 23 percent showing negative consequences. Music videos tend to show alcohol at a rate of about four times an hour.

Research has also shown that those in this age group who view films that are rated R are also seven times more likely to smoke cigarettes, six times more likely to smoke marijuana and five times more likely to drink alcohol. A separate study also states roughly 86 percent of teens know a peer at school who smokes, drinks or uses drugs. About 50 percent of classmates know who is selling drugs in a classroom. Around half of students also admit there is an area near the school where drugs are done before or between classes. An estimated one-third of students believe it is easy to do drugs at school without being detected.

Reasons teens drink or use drugs

Many adolescents will use drugs to appear more grown up and adult-like. For instance, a teen who smokes cigarettes can gain a sense of independence from doing so, as well as seeming to rebel against their parents if they do not smoke. Much like adults, a substance will be chosen based on the desired effects that it creates for the user. Alcohol can be a dangerous outlet for aggression in some heavy drinkers and teens are naturally no exception. Marijuana can be a means of avoiding certain emotions and feelings that teens experience.


Perhaps a popular celebrity is endorsing an alcoholic beverage and a teen sees the advertisement. This sends a clear message to the viewer that drinking alcohol is something that well-liked and respected adults do. Of course, advertising for alcoholic drinks does not focus on any negatives associated with drinking, though other commercials, such as those and drunk driving prevention, do emphasize this. Nonetheless, to young people wondering what they are missing by not drinking alcohol, the influence is undeniably strong. This is also true of a movie that portrays smoking or drugs in a desirable light.


Parents can do their part in prevention by educating teenagers about the real motives behind such advertising. That a company is selling a product and that to make it appealing increases their odds of business. It is a numbers game and the younger a business can hook a repeat customer, the longer they can get revenue from that individual or group. Companies care not about the dangers of addiction. Mothers and fathers should have a say if they so choose in programming an adolescent watches that celebrates alcohol. There is also the option of using a celebrity case to illustrate a point about drugs or alcohol. For instance, perhaps a famous actor is facing legal troubles as result of substance abuse and a parent can choose to emphasize this.

Parents can also set a positive example by not drinking to excess around their children. This will help send the message that such drinks are to be consumed in moderation if at all. Also be aware of any applications that the boy downloads in relation to alcohol, as well as any other means of how he can be accepting of such messages online. Though he is not necessarily drinking, showing online support could be one indicator of underage drinking.

Adults should realistically outline the consequences of using drugs and alcohol. They will also need to be clear about the rules as they apply in their home. This way, there is no confusion about expectations if alcohol or drugs are found in the home, or the teen is believed to be under the influence. Also, if peers have played a role in a teen’s drug or alcohol abuse, then it will be necessary to address negative associations and toxic relationships as soon as possible. Peer influence can play a strong role in wanting to be accepted, but it will be a parents place to clarify what is acceptable and not. For adolescents who are already experiencing problems related to alcohol or drug abuse, White River Academy can help today. Please contact our admissions team at 866-520-0905 to get started today.

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