Teenager girl viewing social media in a dark room.

15 Jul Social Media and Substance Abuse

Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. teens spend at least six and a half hours a day on social media, and an average of 44.5 hours per week of screen time.  Social media has changed the world.  Teens interact more with each other via internet than they do in real life.  Unfortunately, social media has a profound effect on young minds, and can even increase their likelihood to use drugs and alcohol.  Read on to learn more.  

The Statistics

The statistics regarding social media and substance abuse are astounding.  According to a 2011 national study, teens that use social networks every day are 5 times more likely to use tobacco, twice as likely to use marijuana, and 3 times as likely to use alcohol.  40% of teens have viewed pictures of their peers drunk, passed out or using drugs, and 90% of these teens saw those pictures when they were 15 or younger.  If tSocial Media and Substance Abuseeens have viewed images of their peers using drugs or alcohol, they are 3 times more likely to use alcohol, 4 times likelier to use marijuana as well as 4 times likelier to have access to marijuana, 3 times likelier to get prescription drugs they don’t have a prescription for, and twice as likely to be able to get their hands on alcohol.  

Over 86% of high school students know a peer that does drugs, drinks, or smokes, and 50% know who sells drugs, and knows where their peers do drugs on campus.  Nearly all of those who know a dealer think that drugs are sold on campus.

Why Does Social Media Contribute to Substance Abuse?

Peer pressure is incredibly strong, and when teens see pictures of their peers using substances, it does encourage them to do the same.  The photos they see of their friends make  it look like they are having a good time, and naturally, they want to join in on the “fun”.  

Celebrities also post pictures of them out partying or drug propaganda.  For example, more than 7% of Snoop Dogg’s IG posts are about alcohol or drugs.  On instagram alone, there are over 5,000,000 posts about marijuana, 6,000,000 about alcohol, 300,000 posts about cocaine, and many hashtags that dealers use to let followers know that they have drugs available.  Drug dealers/users are continuing to get creative despite instagram’s attempts to ban certain hashtags.  Cyberbullying also plays a large role in substance abuse, as those who are a victim of cyberbullying are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol than their peers.  


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