Substance Use by Teenagers and the Influence of Popular Culture: Symbolic Interaction and Social Learning Perspective According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA,2014), by the time an adolescent is a high school senior they have tried some type of substance. The NIDA states, that 70 percent of the high school population has tried alcohol, 40 percent will have smoked a cigarette, and more than 20 percent will have used a prescription drug for nonmedical purposes (NIDA,2014).
A revised survey from the NIDA in 2016, they showed, “with the past-year use of illicit drugs, other than marijuana, continue to ecline to the lowest level in the history of the survey I all three grades (10th-12th grade),” (NIDA,2016). Regardless of the decline of the use of illicit drugs, the influence in pop culture plays a role in the influence on substance use among teens. The two theories that I will be using to help explain my topic are symbolic interactionist and social learning.
Symbolic interaction will help analysis the influence of the interaction of an adolescent with others help influence their behavior and promotes them to use drugs and change their perspective on how they see drugs in their world. I will also be using Social earning perspective with analyzing the influence that pop culture has on teenagers and the normalization of substance use.
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION In the study of Racial/Ethnic differences in smoking, drinking, and illicit drug among American high school seniors, from 1979-89 by J G Bachman, explain “that drug use among American youth continues to be a focus of attention for many of the influencers in our society like politicians, educators, and the media,” (Bachman, 372).
Bachman hypothesizes the subgroup that will have the most impact with dealing with drug abuse would be the African American community, which will then be ollowed by the Hispanic community and the Native American community. During the time of research, Bachman and other encountered issues because they did not have well-documented databases that must deal with the patterns of drug use by the people in the community. Bachman and others, want to find the differences among racial subgroups when using substances among high school seniors.
In his end analysis in this study, he found that Native Americans and Whites high school seniors had the highest rates of using cigarettes, alcohol, and illicit drugs while Asian and Black students had the lowest amount of drug use besides using marijuana. The Hispanic community was referred to as the highest use of cocaine among the male groups but the rest of substance use comes out neutral.
In the article, Drugs and Youth Cultures: Is Australia Experiencing the ‘Normalization’ of Adolescent Drug Use? y Cameron Duff, explores the shift in the meaning and culture of adolescent drug use, contrasting developments in the United Kingdom and Australia. Duff interest is to answer the question. Duff gathered information from Howard Park’s ‘normalization thesis. ‘ Duff argues that “Parker’s approach has some value with the changing nature of adolescent drug use in Australia,” (Duff, 33). He wants to explain the shifts among adolescent’s drug use by using two contemporary debates among Sociology and cultural studies.
Duff concludes that the more attention there is in the identity formation within adolescent cultures, it will influence a better understanding of the changes that drug use is within the culture of the adolescent. In this topic, involving the influence of the popular culture, I was not able to find existing literature to help support my hypothesis that hit television shows or hit songs promote the usage of substance use to be normalized among high schoolers ut I did find articles that support my hypothesis but with no evidence to back it up.
I have predicted that popular culture has an influence on high schoolers and I will be using one of the theories above to show a correlation among these two variables. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK The social learning perspective is the principal that humans pick up a lot of their behavior from observing other people (Social Learning and Rehab). Substance abuse, according to Victor Shaw, in his book Substance Use and Abuse: Sociological Perspectives, “the social learning perspective claims that substance use is a learned behavior,” (Shaw, 179).
Once ndividual starts observing someone, they start learning that behavior and start copying such behaviors if they feel it will benefit the individual, for example, a sophomore in high school watches a senior at a party start getting drunk the sophomore will start learning that behavior and mimicking the behaviors because it might benefit him in being accepted by the senior crowd. Considering the symbolic interactionist perspective, sociologist looks at the meanings and signs behind the certain behavior.
In this case of substance use in high schoolers, this perspective will look at the meanings behind substance use to explain the ehavior, as well as the message given to teens, what they learn from their peers, and how they contrast their reality when it comes to using the substance. Theoretical Image: Today, it is a common place for drug and alcohol references and outright usage to occur in popular music, movies, and even literature. Teen’s see drugs in pop culture references in cartoons and movies all the time even though they may not realize it.
One day, I was watching the SpongeBob movie with my little brother who is 8, SpongeBob was upset that he did not get the manager position so he went to a “bar” and basically got wasted off ice cream. In the article, “Drugs in Pop Culture,” by Tim Stoddart, states, “Drugs in pop culture gives kids an ‘image’ that is very appealing and cool. Society’s standards of acceptance revolve around our cultural influences, and with popular artists referencing or using drugs,” it has become a social norm for teens to at least try these substances once in their life(Stoddart).
Drugs and the music industry inadvertently teach teens about drugs by using drug street names or having drug references in their music videos like The Weeknd and Wiz Khalifa. Not only do their musical references portray substance use but so do their utside activities that get broadcast all over social media, for example, Justin Bieber who is a teen pop musical star that has been displaying activities like driving while drunk and smoking weed. The music industry is not the only pop culture reference that displays substance use. Society is constantly watching drugs in pop culture evolve.
Television shows like “Gossip Girl” and “Jersey Shore” show young adults or high schoolers drinking excessively or doing drugs while having fun. In the article by Stoddart, it states, “often people believe that they need to drink to have a good time or to ‘fit in’ and shows like that are not eaching the younger generation any better,” (Stoddart). The problem with this is that society has accepted the use of drugs and alcohol use because it is in the pop culture that make it seem like such an amazing thing to do and that the only way we can live life is to be under the influence.
This is both symbolic interaction and social learning, an individual is observing the behavior that is portrayed on social media and then they learn to do it and then their perspective on substance use changes. Theoretical component: In previous books that I have read for that focuses on drug buse, we learned that many drug dealers or providers are easily found at high schools. In the textbook “Dreamland” we learned that many high schoolers knew of someone or knew where to find black tar heroin outside of their school.
Not only did they know where to get black tar, they also had older peers that would provide them with the substance of alcohol or marijuana. Throughout the class that I am currently taking, almost everyone agreed that they knew someone that would sell them any type of drugs or that their friend had a provider. In the textbook, “Dreamland” by Sam Quinones, a doctor named Peter Rogers, that was treating adolescents who were on ecstasy, LSD, pot, and are full blown alcoholics.
On the evening in February 2003, Peter Rogers had never seen a teenager addicted to heroin. His first encounter was with a sixteen-year- old girl went to the ER with her parents. He states that “she started with pain pills she got from her friends. The pills got a little expensive. Boyfriend was a heroin user and he injected her with heroin for the first time,” Rogers remembered, “She used for a while, then she would run out of money. Her parents realized something was wrong. She told them,” (Quinones, 194).