According to the 2015 NSDUH, “about 7.7 million people ages 12–20 reported drinking alcohol in the past month (“Alcohol Facts and Statistics” par. 11).” In other words, the United States has seen a significant increase in drug abuse over the past 10 years; specifically, among teenagers. With that being the case, most people would agree that these statistics are alarming to say the least, and it’s no surprise that our country is quickly struggling to find a solution. One common proposal in discussion is drug advertising. Could drug advertising be the key to solving this ever growing problem? Although many would say no, there is evidence that shows otherwise.
In 2000, Budweiser spent an estimated $770 million on TV ads and another $15 million on radio commercials. Although there are plenty of other alcohol manufacturers who spend just as much on advertisements each year, Budweiser is particularly interesting. This brand is one of leading makers of children-targeting ads (Riccio par. 6). Oftentimes, manufacturers like Budweiser hide their immoral propaganda with public service announcements on “drinking responsibly.” However, according to an article by Current Health, it’s “estimated that for every public service announcement a kid hears about drinking, they’re likely to see 25 to 50 ads promoting beer or wine (Roccio par. 6).” After hearing statistics like these, the effectiveness of those “safe drinking” service announcements really comes into question.
According to Albert Bandura, one the most credited psychologists in United States history, the “Social Learning Theory” suggests that “repeated exposure to modeled behavior can result in behavioral change (Kilbourne par. 13).” In addition, this theory has been proven to be particularly effective among children. Knowingly or not, drug manufactures across the United States seem to take advantage of this. Alcohol and cigarettes are advertised by desirable individuals. Many ads imply that drinking is a rite of passage into adulthood (Kilbourne par. 17). According to the Center on Alcohol marketing and Youth, “almost a quarter of all television alcohol advertising in 2001 was delivered more effectively to youth than to adults (“Center on Alcohol marketing and Youth” par. 18).” When looking at the amount of advertisements our youth sees every day, the effects it must have on teenage drinking are undeniable. Consequently, studies have shown that teens who begin drinking are four times as likely to become alcoholics as those who don’t begin drinking until age 21 (Riccio par. 7).
Ultimately, the question on whether or not drug advertising is increasing drug abuse has only been tested on a small scale. Although there is much evidence to support the negative effects of drug ads, in the end, the most effective way to know if a potential solution will work, is to implement it. But how? Should we change the script of drug advertising or eradicate it altogether? Knowing that everyone’s common goal is the same: decreasing drug abuse in the United States, exploring every side to possible resolutions to this problem is crucial.