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Increasing in teens: Use of social media, drugs and alcohol

August 31, 2012
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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As social media continues to expand and adolescents spend more and more of their free time on the internet, it is not surprising to hear some of the statistics from the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII:Teens.  The survey was conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

According to the study, teens that have seen pictures on social media of other teens doing drugs, drinking, or passed out, are four times more likely to have used marijuana, three times more likely to have consumed alcohol, and almost three times more likely to have used tobacco. Not only do I agree that the social media may have an impact on teens' desire to try drugs and/or alcohol but I also think it is the culture of 2012.  The media, including popular music, tv shows, movies, magazines, etc., all have messages about getting drunk, doing drugs, partying, forgetting what happened the night before-the list goes on and on.  

Take, for example, Katy Perry's popular song "Last Friday Night" that has been splashing through the radio waves.  Just a few lines of the lyrics include:

  • "It's a blacked-out blur but I'm pretty sure it ruled."
  • "And we took too many shots, think we kissed but I forgot."
  • "Trying to connect the dots, don't know what to tell my boss."

I think that when media and social media portray people getting drunk or doing drugs, it glorifies the situation and makes teens feel like they're missing out on the something. 

Another statistic explained that almost half (44 percent) of the high school students that were studied know of a fellow classmate who sells drugs at their school.  Over 1,000 12- to 17-year olds were surveyed for this report and they were also asked about what kind of drugs were sold at their school.  According to the high school students that were questioned for the survey, 91 percent said marijuana, 24 percent said prescription drugs, 9 percent said cocaine, and 7 percent said ecstasy.

Teens who attend religious services about once a week are less likely to take part in drugs, alcohol or tobacco use.  Younger teens (ages 12-13 and 14-15) say that they have more accessability to prescription drugs and can get them within a day, compared to obtaining marijuana.  Older teens (16-17) say they are more likely to be able to get marijuana in a day.  The survey also asked the students questions about being home alone, stress levels and parental disapproval.


Shannon Brys

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