Does the Media Affect Marijuana Use?

Does the Media Affect Marijuana Use?

Many factors can influence the prevalence of marijuana use. Personal biological and psychological factors and the ease of obtaining the drug can all affect one’s susceptibility to marijuana addiction. The media’s portrayal of marijuana use may also play a significant role.

Although the media’s portrayal of marijuana can affect the views and behaviors of people of all ages, adolescents may be particularly vulnerable. This could be due to their developmental stage and to the many hours they often spend surrounded by media messages. Adolescents often spend several hours a day being influenced by music, television and the internet.

Statistics about the Media and Marijuana

References to marijuana can be found in media of all types, including the following:

  • News coverage – A 2003 study published in the Journal of Health Communication reported on a longitudinal analysis of the media’s effect on marijuana consumption. The study examined news coverage of marijuana and its effects on adolescent viewers’ behavior from 1977 through 1999. It examined the media’s effects on the viewers’ use of the drug, rates of personal disapproval of the drug’s use and attitudes about the drug’s perceived harmfulness. The researchers found that marijuana news coverage affected adolescent beliefs and behaviors in significant ways and explained much of the variation in rates of marijuana abstinence.
  • Music – A 2009 report in the Addiction journal examined the correlation between certain types of music and marijuana use. The ninth grade students who were surveyed were found to listen to almost 22 hours of music per week and to be exposed to about 40 lyrical references to marijuana per day. Students whose favorite musical artists performed three or more songs with references to the drug were found to be almost twice as likely to be current marijuana users, when compared with students whose favorite artists had no songs mentioning the drug. Another 2009 study, reported in the journal Substance Use and Misuse, found that teens were significantly more likely to use marijuana if their musical exposure was over three hours a day.
  • Movies – Movies can also be a significant source of information and influence related to substance use. Although alcohol is the most commonly portrayed substance in movies targeted to teens, illicit drugs are also a common theme. 93% of movies favored by adolescents depict the use of alcohol and 22% portray the use of illicit drugs.

Awareness about the Media’s Marijuana Messages

Drug use prevention programs can take a variety of forms. One approach is to teach media literacy, in which students are taught to recognize and counteract media messages. Programs like Media Detective can teach students to become aware of their emotional responses and improve their critical thinking skills.

Finding Help for Marijuana Abuse

The media often downplays the risks associated with marijuana and minimizes its addiction risk. This can make people less likely to admit addiction and seek treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with marijuana abuse, please call our toll-free helpline now. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions about how the media affects marijuana use. We can also help you find the right treatment program for your situation. Please call now.