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TV Shows and Movies Talking About Substance Abuse and Mental Health


TV shows and movies should not feature drug abuse and mental health in their content distributed for mass viewership. The habit of featuring substance abuse and mental health in TV shows and movies has more damage than they are postulated to offer solutions. The idea of showing drug abuse on TV and in movies is not what happens in reality. Shocking many people get attracted to drug abuse as they consume its content on movies and TV programs. Below are reasons why TV shows and movies should not feature substance abuse.

Creates awareness of what drugs can do

When TV shows and movies feature drug abuse and mental health, they unknowingly educate their audience on something related to drugs. For example, they bring awareness of how drugs are acquired and how people disguise themselves under the influence of drugs. Dome audiences are not watching TV shows and movies to learn about such disguise tactics to avoid them but rather to use them. They take lessons from such shows, and they even try to execute them in real life. From these trials and errors on the effectiveness of drugs, they end up discovering themselves under the influence of drugs (Jain, Roy, Garud, & Mazid, 2019).

On their discovery of drug abuse and disguise strategies, they end up trying multiple strategies of drug abuse that they have a sense of on TV in movies or on TV shows. Some of them end up on the extreme end of discovering new ways in which they can abuse drugs and get influenced by drug abuse. This ends up creating a society where TV shows and movies are the core motivators for people to get into drugs. Even when TV shows are meant for educational purposes, the audience gets educated not to stay away from drugs but to actually try out these drugs and multiple ways to abuse them.

Increases exposure

Featuring drug abuse and mental health in mass media does more harm than good because of the exposure element of it. There is someone watching TV, and they have never known certain drugs do exist. Others know certain drugs exist, but they do not know why they are used. Others know a drug exists and how it’s used, but they do not know how they can get their hands on such drugs. The implication of this is enlightening consumers of movies or TV shows on something they do not know about drug abuse (Kaur, Rutherford, Martins & Keyes, 2020).

Introducing viewers to ideas of drugs, how they get their hands on them, how they are used, and their actual impact is what harms the people. This is what makes people develop an urgent to look at these drugs. If they know how to access them, they end up using them just to “experiment” if they truly have the like ones portrayed in movies or TV shows. Since TV shows and movies cannot really control the accountability of people who consume their content, it is best if they stop showing content featuring drug abuse altogether. The best thing to do is to regulate content published for viewers at the production level.

Entices the audience to try out

Not everyone does not know about rugs abuse and mental health. There are people who live with people who abuse drugs. Others know where they can get these drugs from and their impacts on the body. However, these people are prevented from getting into drugs by one thing; they are not convinced enough. TV shows and movies are where they draw affirmation, and they are convinced to try these drugs. There are different ways in which they draw affirmation and make the actual decision to try out drug abuse for themselves (El-Khoury, Bilani, Abu-Mohammad, Ghazzaoui, Kassir, Rachid & El Hayek, 2019).

One of them is the people who are featured abusing drugs. At times, celebrities and prominent people are featured abusing drugs. When they appear in such shows and movies, people who see them as their role models get the notion that drug abuse is not a bad thing. One can still get to achieve their life desires as their role models have, even under the influence of drugs. Secondly, drug abuse is portrayed as behavior and fashion that people should try out and conform with. In living as per the trends and fashion, one is finally convinced to try drug abuse and live the current trending lifestyle of drug abuse.

Advocates on how drugs help one escape from reality

Life is hard, but to some people, it is harder. People at times wish they could run away from reality just for a minute and take a breath without being pressured by life demands and the harsh reality. Introduces audience to patterns of expected behaviors on the use of drugs. On TV and in movies, different people are featured trying to use drugs to forget about life for a moment. They are scenarios that are illustrated that prompt people to try drug abuse in a quest to escape from reality.

Most of these moments and scenarios are relatable to some viewers. If one is in a position related to or similar to one shown in a movie, one ends up trying drug abuse to run away from reality. If drug abuse work for them, they introduce a close friend or a family member into this habit. The problem of one person is spread to another person, and the chain continues. After some years, what started as a TV show to entice people to drug abuse ended up leading more people into the actual problem of drug abuse (Choudhary, 2021).

They project likely behaviors after drug abuse.

It is many times, one watches a movie and notices that before an incident occurs, offenders are often under the influence of drugs. To put this into perspective, it is often to see alcohol abuse leading people into unplanned and careless sexual intercourse (Jain, Roy, Garud, & Mazid, 2019). In another case of attackers and violence, offenders are under the influence of hard drugs like marijuana or even cocaine, as portrayed on these shows. If one has an intent closely related to one shown in a movie, one will not shy away from taking these drugs to gain confidence and the ability to execute their heinous acts.

There are some incidences where people have tried alcohol, as they have seen in their movies, with people of the opposite sex. This could be motivated by an intention to have sexual intercourse with the other gender. If one has tried advances before unsuccessfully, they might see intoxicating their target as the best way to engage with them in such behaviors. The same case applies to where a person what to injure another for revenge purposes. They would get under the influence of certain drugs, as shown in a movie, in order to gather confidence to attack their targeted parties.


In conclusion, showing content related to drug abuse on TV shows and movies is more harmful than beneficial. The number of people who end up trying drugs because they saw it on their TVs is high then people who avoid drugs because they consume content about them. Some of the ways TV programs with drug abuse content promote drug abuse are through exposure, affirming people to try drugs, showing people they can use drugs to escape reality, and even exposing to people how they can use drugs to influence their confidence in doing certain acts.


Choudhary, N. (2021). Drug Abuse and the Failure of the NDPS Act to Curb the Issue: A Socio-Legal Analysis. Jus Corpus LJ2, 1.

Kaur, N., Rutherford, C. G., Martins, S. S., & Keyes, K. M. (2020). Associations between digital technology and substance use among US adolescents: Results from 2018 Monitoring the Future survey. Drug and alcohol dependence213, 108124.

Jain, P., Roy, E., Garud, N., & Mazid, I. (2019). Sexuality and substance abuse portrayals in item songs in Bollywood movies. South Asian Popular Culture17(1), 15-29.

El-Khoury, J., Bilani, N., Abu-Mohammad, A., Ghazzaoui, R., Kassir, G., Rachid, E., & El Hayek, S. (2019). Drugs and alcohol themes in recent feature films: a content analysis. Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse28(1), 8-14.


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