Use of Drugs and Alcohol in Movies May Fuel Teen Drug Abuse

If you thought that movies that depict drug and alcohol abuse were harmless to your teen, think again. A new study, which we will look at further down the page, shows that watching a lot of movies that highlight alcohol abuse actually increases the chances that younger teens will experiment with alcohol. In fact, such viewings also increase the likelihood that teenagers will ultimately progress to binge drinking.

Kids Talk About Why They Drink

How do we deal with this problem and limit the harm to American teens? According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, researchers suggest movie makers should restrict alcohol product placement. A perfect example of such a restriction is the change in the depiction of tobacco. As you know, smoking used to be incredibly common in Hollywood movies. After restrictions were instituted, this is no longer the case.

The study surveyed more than 6,500 kids between the ages of 10 and 14. They were asked about their alcohol use and abuse as well as the factors that influenced their interest in drinking. They included the movies they saw, marketing and advertisements, issues at home (including the example set by older family members), whether or not their friends drank, and their own inclination toward rebellion.

Other Factors that Lead to Teen Alcohol Abuse

The study lasted two years and in that time, the number of children who started drinking went from 11 percent to 25 percent. In addition, children that started binge drinking increased from four percent to 13 percent. However, it’s not just movies that were responsible for the onset of teen drinking and the explosion in teen alcohol abuse. Teens that had parents who drank alcohol and who had easy access to alcohol at home were more likely to experiment with alcohol.

According to the study published in the journal BMJ Open, there were additional risk factors as well. Also associated with both the initial experimentation and the ultimate action of binge drinking were:

  • Seeing movies that highlighted alcohol use
  • Ownership of alcohol-related items (e.g., shirts, stickers, etc.)
  • Peers who drink
  • Rebelliousness

However, teens who watched movies that featured alcohol use were twice as likely to start drinking and 63 percent more likely to begin binge drinking – and not just movies that feature characters who drink but those that featured alcohol placement as well.

In other words, teens are impressionable. Any adult that looks back at their own experience as a teenager will not find this fact to be surprising. Given science’s understanding of the powerful effects of entertainment on teenagers, shouldn’t we be more careful about such exposure? Shouldn’t Hollywood make it a priority to protect teens from undue influences? After all, the point of a film is to sell popcorn and sodas, not beer and hard alcohol.

Contact Newport Academy Today for Help

When you find out that your teen has been watching drug related movies that depict alcohol abuse and other harmful substance abuse scenes is an opportunity to talk to your teen about alcohol abuse. This can be a valuable teaching moment discuss the dangers of drinking, alcohol abuse, binge drinking, and drugs. Set boundaries and follow through – if your teen continues to drink, it may be necessary to go outside the home for assistance. Contact us at Newport Academy today to learn more about your options in teen alcohol abuse help.