The American Academy Pediatrics (APP)

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The aim of the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) is to promote moral values against the use of substances in society in order to give good health and well-being to children, adolescents, and teenagers. The media is one of the key forces in modern society that is improving the behavior of adolescent drug usage, such as cigarettes and alcohol, to name a few. According to the AAP statement (2010), alcohol and tobacco are the most commonly used substances among teenagers in the twenty-first century, with some starting as young as seven years old. According to the journal, media advertisements spend approximately $25 billion every year on alcohol, tobacco, and other prescription pharmaceuticals. However, research has shown that these promotional activities are effective in increasing drug use awareness among teenagers and adolescents in the first few years of their mental health development. The publication asserts that increase in media use to promote drug use and coverage of PG-13 and R-rated films at early years is a significant agent in increasing the use of alcohol and tobacco among adolescents. I do agree with the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics on banning all adverts that promote the consumption of all tobacco and alcohol-related substances in the society (Belackova, Stastna & Miovsk, 2011). According to the academy, incorporating promotion of contents and their use in television programs watched by young children is the primary reason behind the augmented alcohol and tobacco use in the American society. Even though parents, stakeholders and the governments of various states are increasing the “Say No to Drugs” campaign, the prescription adverts flooding the media are progressively working to let them say “Yes to Drugs.” Additionally, most of the television programs aired contain a substantial amount of substance use thus encouraging or creating the desire among teenagers to try using these drugs. Consequently, the condition has witnessed increased drinking, smoking and use of other substances among teenagers. The public has not taken the contemporary media portrayal of the legal drugs with weightiness thus inviting no criticism with the intention of keeping away the adolescents from substance use. The publication confirms that illegal substances take their toll on the 21st century. The legal drugs (alcohol and tobacco) thus posing the greatest hazard to teenagers and adolescents in using some illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. Both substances (alcohol and tobacco) presents a considerable gateway and are the earliest materials used by teenagers and kids. The American Academy Psychiatrics revealed that adolescents who use alcohol or tobacco are more likely to use marijuana than those who keep away. Additionally, greater risks of health problem occur when individuals experiment these drugs at an early age, which later affects their mental and physical development. Moreover, the use of tobacco causes more death among teenagers and adolescent than AIDS, road carnages, suicides, and murder combined. However, more than 100,000 deaths occur every year owing to excessive consumption of alcohol; 5000 of the total are individual below the age of 21 years. Drug use enhances the capacity of users to adopt certain adverse behaviors associated with a substance such as sexual activity, drinking, smoking, and using marijuana. The influence of media in the lives of children is undeniable compared to adults (Griffiths, 2010). The act of using humor, celebrity endorsers, rock music or models are more effective on children and teenagers than grown-ups. One of the factors promoting smoking and drinking among youngster is the ability of media to make the conduct to seem normal besides functioning as a “superpeer” by delicately putting pressure on them to experiment the drugs (Hathaway et al., 2016). Consequently, the paper will focus on smoking depiction in a TV series program called “Law and Order: Special Victims Units: Season 8 Episode 14.” The director of the series attempted to depict several scenes of tobacco use among teenage actors leading to the increased crime rate in the community. Additionally, the paper will focus on reviewing whether media portrayal of substance use is accurate concerning teenagers’ involvement or not. Besides, give a comparison and contrast the description of drug use found in the media with those in AAP paper. Finally, the article will draw some conclusions about the depiction of drug use in media; provide implications of the media portrayal and recommendations on the topic.

The TV series depicts the ecstasy of youths who engage in tobacco smoking as well as the use of illegal substance in the community. The episode acknowledges the influence of “superpeer” developed among teenagers to participate in legal element use in the city. At least one of the victims in the film smokes and drinks alcohol at the same time owing to the peer pressure and influence. The increase in the use of drugs in the episode has heightened the level of crime rates in this community. An intruder attacks a mob lawyer and murders the wife but spears his child; thus leading to a chaotic state of the society influenced by drug use such as marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco. Surprisingly the mob lawyer suspects that her drug addict daughter was part of the gang that attacked her house. AAP asserts that such misconducts are the influence of substance use among teenagers who grow up unguided on the impact of drugs such as tobacco, marijuana in the community.

According to the American Academy, scenes of smoking have remained typical characteristics of the entertainment media, which has witnessed increased substance use and crimes among the youths in the contemporary society. For instance, Hollywood tends to use smoking as habit symbolizing shorthand for disturbed or antiestablished conducts yet the smoking spree of the characters is influencing the acts of the viewers. A significant number of viewers are likely to emulate the behavior, as they perceive it OK. The article also affirms that almost 90 percent of prime-time TV programmes portray at least one demeanor of drug use such as tobacco smoking among teenage and adult characters. However, a fourth of the show depicts a negative impression of tobacco use.

The episode shows most teenagers involved in the act of smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol during their free time. The depiction in this show is that drug help teenager to spend their time economically through partying and getting together with their colleagues in the community. However, the episode attempts to advise the viewers against the use of drugs in the society by portraying individuals who commit crime out of the influence of drugs and are being pursued by the police. Drug use is a multifaceted course, which entails addictions associated with spending more cash to maintain the desire and lifestyle associated with the substances. Adolescents and other characters in the episode engage in criminal activities to help them obtain money to sustain their lifestyle of spending on drugs. Moreover, the drug makes teenagers wasteful as they use their parents’ resources to meet the demand and urge for smoking and drinking of alcohol.

According to AAP, movies aired by TVs are the primary exposure route to tobacco use among viewers especially teenagers in modern society where media has taken a crucial part of human life. Even though the recent assessment of tobacco has revealed a dropping level of usage, the occurrence, particularly among youngsters, is still high calling for actions from the stakeholders. Accordingly, affecting the government’s effort in the fight against drug use among teenagers in the American society. The portrayal of tobacco and alcohol use in the TV series is a perfect example of misleading information that media is imparting on an essential segment of the contemporary society; the youths. The message from the characters and theme of the episode is that the war against crime associated with drug use is one that will persist and last for long. The name of the episode is dependent; portraying how drugs influence the productivity level of teenagers negatively in the American society.

The celebrities in the film tend to smoke approximately after every 14 minutes hence normalizing various unhealthy behavior believed to corrupt the mind of teenage viewers.

The TV series seems to make smoking look okay while in reality to it leads to various health complication on the lives of the characters in real life. Some of those performers do not live a happy life, and their family relationship is in a mess owing to addiction effect of drugs. However, on the media, they make the viewers particularly teenagers to perceive smoking and use of other substances normal in life. However, anti-drug publications and advocated agree that adolescents are getting mixed information from such TV series programmes about illegal drugs making some to abstain from the act while some attempt the use. However, it is not logical to blame one medium on disseminating ambiguous evidence regarding legal drugs as pop culture, and talk shows are giving an ultimate approval and making light of drugs in the media.

The TV series attempts to portray an accurate picture of what encounters drug users especially youths in the community experience such as isolation by family members, unhappiness just to mention a few. The victims spend more money buying tobacco for use with their fellows while at the same time they go partying every evening in clubs. Even though this may seem constructive to characters, most of these parties end up with fights leading deaths and destruction on the federal as well as private properties. Additionally, the victims’ health condition is deteriorating, accompanied with a weak family relationship, which leaves them more vulnerable to use of illegal substances such as marijuana. Consequently, the director of the series aimed at giving an accurate picture of how drugs help one to destroy the family and intimate relationships in the society. Most of the characters are addicts, which influences them to adopt more extreme behaviors such as intrusion into apartments and to commit murder. The addictive nature of drugs is intense that when the effect associated with smoking wears out, one finds the urge to smoke more and more; that is why most of the characters can smoke more than one packet in 24 hours.

According to American Academy of Psychiatrics, approximately 19 percent of TV shows depict tobacco smoking while 25 percent of entertaining media portray a negative statement of drugs, which is the case in the “Law and Order Special Victims Units: Season 8 episode 14.” The series attempts to reveal to the audience the horrifying misconducts, health risks and related complications that individual addicted to smoking undergo in the society today. Even though the series is PG-rated, the influence of drug use may surpass the desire of viewers to stay away from smoking. The episode highlights the negative power of ecstasy among the characters; unfortunately, the teenagers do not understand this message passed to them as they can end up experimenting with the drugs depicted. Scholars agree that the entertainment media has considered a milestone achievement in speaking against drug use to the public. However, they agree that the media should not just teach children, teenagers, and adolescents the harmful effects of smoking but make them understand how such TV shows convey the message as well. Subsequently, making it difficult to manipulate the audience hence saving lives. Even though the TV series attempt to deconstruct the use of drugs among the viewers, it lacks efficient support to influence the capacity of the viewers to fall victims of experimentation. They do not allow the viewers to read behind the scenes and understand the reason why smoking is not suitable for their health. The children may want to try smoking because they believe partying and smoking go hand in hand. Consequently, viewers who are addicts to parties are likely to engage in tobacco because they consider partying enjoyable when using substances such as tobacco.


The war against drugs has persevered for more than decades in the American society. However, teenagers continue to take pills despite the government’s efforts to try to curb the crisis among the adolescents and youths. American Academy of Psychiatrics asserts that the depiction of the substance use in the media has influenced negatively on the fight against drug use among people especially adolescences. Notwithstanding the government channeling resources to the campaign against drug use among teenagers, the entertainment media, as well as advertisement, are effectively working to let youths say yes to substances. The most common elements used by teens are alcohol and tobacco. Given that these materials are legal, they tend to attract attention among the youths especially those who do not receive proper parental guidance. Unfortunately, the media also plays a considerable role in the depiction of such substances among teenagers in the community as they inspire the experimentation desire and compulsion among viewers. Tobacco use recurrently appears in advertisements and TV series shows, which contrast with the reality in the US. The TV show such as “Law and Order Special Victims Unit” reveals the encounters and drug use portrayal among teenagers in the community. However, the level of the media portrayal of substance use in the episode boosts deviant behaviors among teenagers such as crime, addiction and use of illegal drugs such as marijuana. The celebrities in the movies give the viewers a perception that taking substances considered legal allow them to exploit their potential and live a free life. However, the episode also depicts that drug use hurts the relationship life of an individual with their partners and families.

Implication of media depiction on drug use

The growing influence of media depiction of drug use among teenagers has a significant effect on the abstinence of viewers. Parents who let their kids watch movies rated as PG-13 are exposing them to experimentation influence of the mainstream media. The war against drug use among teenagers and youths requires the efforts of every stakeholder in the community to help win the battle. The guidance of the parents plays a considerable role in positively influencing the portrayal of drug use by the media. If parents can offer emotional and parental guidance to their youths when accessing the media it will positively encourage the fight against drugs among teens. Even though the government is doing its best to prevent substance use among youths, there is need to consider the influence of the media in this war. The entertainment media commands a vast population of viewers especially teenagers and therefore have a reliable power to persuade youths either to the right direction or mislead them. The implication of media portrayal on substance in the society is working against its moral standards and principles by influencing viewers to participate in the consumption of legal and other illegal substances in the community. Accordingly, the stakeholders of the media industry should consider using the media to pass information meant to educate and help eradicate the influence of drug and other illegal substance use among the adolescents in the society. The media portrayal of substance use in the sentiments of viewers has affected the war on drugs among adolescents. Media portrayal of substance use will continue to have a damaging impact on the lives of viewers by enticing a considerable number of youths to experiment.


However, the government and relevant stakeholders of the economy should consider crucial measures to curb the issue of drug use among teenagers resulting from the influence of media depiction of substances.

Pediatricians ought to inspire parents to limit their children to watching unsupervised media programs aired by most of the mainstream media especially cartons and TV series. Additionally, they should remove television in a child’s bedchamber as a means of eradicating drug use because of media depiction in the 21st century.

Parents should limit their children’s access to TV programs with excessive substance use such as Law and Order Special Victims Units to help keep them from influences associated with experimentation on certain drugs.

Adult should limit the exposure of children to watching movies or TV series programs rated PG-13 to help keep their spirit of saying no to drugs alive and build a better and healthy life in future.

The government should limit the use of media to advertise and air films and programs with some portrayal of drug use likely to inspire the attitude of the youths in the community.

Finally, government should encourage the local learning institution to integrate media teaching in the curriculum to ensure they build awareness regarding drugs and the entertainment industry.


American Academy Psychiatric (2010). Policy Statement-Children, Adolescents, Substance Abuse, and the Media.

Belackova, V., Stastna, L., & Miovsk, M. (2011). 'Selling by drugs': Content analysis of the coverage of illicit drugs in different news media types and formats. Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, 18(6), 477-489.

Griffiths, M. D. (2010). Media and advertising influences on adolescent risk behaviour. Education & Health, 28(1), 2-5.

Hathaway, A., Mostaghim, A., Kolar, K., Erickson, P. G., & Osborne, G. (2016). A nuanced view of normalisation: Attitudes of cannabis non-users in a study of undergraduate students at three Canadian universities. Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, 23(3), 238-246.

April 26, 2023

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