Alcoholism in Music, Media and Every Day Life
Dealing with alcoholism is difficult enough, but popular culture can make recovery seem untenable. When you’re constantly surrounded by the celebration of alcohol within music, movies, and advertising, it can feel impossible to get away from the influence you’re struggling with. If you are currently struggling with alcohol abuse, or already on the path to recovery, then you need a way to manage exposure to alcohol in music, media, and everyday life.
Constant Exposure to Alcohol in the Media
Alcohol use and abuse is featured relentlessly in contemporary culture. A 2012 review in the Alcohol and Alcoholism journal examined several studies on alcohol and its portrayal in television and the movies. One study found that alcohol brand names are present in more than 50% of current, popular movies. Another found that 93% of the most-rented movies in 1996-1997 showed alcohol consumption! It’s clear that alcohol is highly present in popular film. But in addition to the prevalence of movies featuring alcohol, the review found that watching alcohol and consuming alcohol are correlated. Watching others drink on television and in movies tends to increase alcohol consumption in viewers.
Alcohol isn’t always glorified in the cinema. Many films have alcoholic characters, who may suffer the real hardships of the condition, or may have their condition portrayed in a comedic or even romanticized way. Some of the most famous movies which focus on alcoholism include Walk the Line, Bad Santa, Flight, Crazy Heart, The Rum Diary, and more.
Alcohol isn’t limited to portrayal in film, either. A significant number of popular songs feature drinking heavily, often glorified and related to going out or partying. You’ll also find heavy references to alcohol in advertising. People are exposed to messages about alcohol in print ads, at sporting events, on billboards, on social media, and in ads on TV or the radio.
Contemporary culture references alcohol so frequently that it can feel nearly impossible to escape. But the real problem lies in the portrayal of alcohol as a positive, influence.
Positive Portrayals of Alcohol
Music, movies, television shows, and advertisements tend to encourage drinking and feed the idea that alcohol will make your life more fun and exciting.
Adolescents in America hear 34 mentions of alcohol every day in the music they listen to, explains a 2012 study in the Addiction journal. Many of these song references also included alcohol brand names and connected them with lyrics about a lifestyle that including having money, expensive possessions, sex, parties and other types of drugs. The same lead author of that study published another study in the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research journal. In this survey of young people, those who were able to name an alcohol brand within a song were more likely to have had an alcoholic beverage and to have binged on alcohol at some point. The study’s lead author noted that helping young people understand how songs were potentially affecting them might have a positive effect on their likelihood to drink.
This problem does not start and stop in the United States. A 2012 study in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism looked at social media marketing of alcohol in the United Kingdom. The study found that alcohol companies were using marketing to encourage people to drink at certain times, were connecting drinking to events and activities, and were encouraging games and competitions based around alcohol. The authors noted that these marketing strategies tend to go against policies that try to limit the amount people drink.
This social media study noted numerous examples of postings that encourage drinking and could be very difficult for someone trying to recover from alcoholism. Some examples include, “Like this update if you’ll be having a Carling tonight—best way to start the weekend,” “It’s Friday which means the weekend is almost upon us. What have you got planned? We hope it includes a pint of #Magners or two,” and “Reward yourself for cresting hump day with a Bacardi cocktail!”
Dealing with Exposure to Alcohol
In Western culture, it’s nearly impossible to escape mention of alcohol. This can make recovery seem extremely difficult, with the temptations of alcohol present at every turn and on every social media site. However, it’s possible to learn to view these references to alcohol and continue resolutely on the path to sobriety.
The Malibu Beach Recovery Center focuses on methods for dealing with temptation as a cornerstone of our treatments. Our plan focuses on changing the brain’s reward system to help you recover from alcoholism. Elements like the 12-step program, proper nutrition, mind & body approaches, and other techniques help you stay sober long after you’ve left our program and must face constant references to your addiction each day.
When you are empowered with tools like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and the mental effects of programs like the 12-step program, you can deal with the many messages pop culture promotes to glorify alcohol. These tools form the foundation of a long-term recovery: one in which you kick your addiction for the long haul.