Social Media Influence on Substance Abuse
The correlation between social media influence on substance abuse is uncanny. Yes, it is not unheard of for teenagers to experiment with drugs and alcohol. However, just because it is not unusual does not mean it should be encouraged or is worth promoting. Social media platforms and websites (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr), take advantage of their influence on teens in many ways. The most insidious of these is that they invite teens to experiment and, ultimately, be exposed to dangerous substances. To list a few, such materials include alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes, and other illicit drugs.
When teens see or become exposed to such material, they become susceptible to their influence and harmful effects. This stems from a desire to emulate the glamor or excitement they see in social media. Celebrities, brand-name companies, influencers, friends, and even relatives are responsible for their influence on the younger generation. When teenagers watch or witness their friends, relatives, favorite celebrities, influencers, or brand-name companies participate in this behavior, it begins to standardize the action as appropriate.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University conducted a study on teenagers who use well-known social media outlets. In their study, the researchers found that more students were likely to drink, use drugs, and buy tobacco than adolescents who either did not use social media or used it less frequently. The survey asked 2,000 adolescents about their drug use and social media habits, and 70% said that they use social media every day. Researchers found that, compared to nonusers or infrequent users of social media, this group was:
- 5x more likely to buy cigarettes
- 3x more likely to drink
- 2x as likely to use marijuana
According to a study conducted by the Center on Addiction, teenagers who frequently visit social media sites depicting images of “kids that are drunk, passed out, or using drugs” are more likely to engage in tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use.