There was an interesting article this past week on the Fox News website in the US asking if celebrities should be held responsible for encouraging people to use alcohol and drugs. It seems there is rarely a day goes by without at least some mention of celebrities abusing these substances. In fact, some celebrities are more famous for their drug problems (for example, Lindsay Lohan) than they are for anything else.
Celebrities Who Encourage Fans to Use Drugs
It is not only the personal drug use of celebrities that may be encouraging fans; there are also things like song lyrics that glorify the behaviour. The news article on Fox News mentioned the song by Miley Cyrus called ‘We Can’t Stop’; the lyrics of song include the words ‘dancing with molly‘ – ‘molly’ being street slang for MDMA. In fact, many popular songs contain lyrics that encourage alcohol and drug abuse.
The idea that celebrities encourage drug abuse among their fans is certainly not new. It goes back to at least the fifties – probably much further than that. The height of the association between stars and drugs occurred in the late sixties. Famous people openly encouraged people to experiment with LSD and cannabis. A whole lifestyle developed which involved listening to the ‘flower power’ bands and using drugs to achieve altered states of consciousness. Timothy Leary sums this period in time up best with the words with which he advised people to ‘turn on, tune in, and drop out’.
Do Celebrities Really Encourage People to Use Drugs?
There is ample evidence to support the idea that humans are influenced by the people they look up to. This is especially the case with young people who rely on role models to help them find their way in the world. These celebrities often start as positive role models and the media will promote them as people worth copying. Then when these individuals fall into the trap of alcohol or drug abuse, it can send the impression to teenagers that this type of behaviour is cool. Adults can also be impacted in much the same way.
The other worrying way that celebrities encourage drug use is that they promote the idea that these substances are actually beneficial. It is a common belief that these substances can make people be more creative. There are impressionable young people out there who believe that if they engage in this type of behaviour it will somehow help them become more talented too. It is easy to miss the fact that celebrities are famous despite their drug addiction problems and not because of them.
People fall into drug addiction for a whole host of reasons, and trying to copy celebrities is just one of them. It is not fair to hold celebrities responsible for the actions of their fans. In most of these cases, the famous people are as much a victim of brainwashing as the people who support them. These successful people may be convinced that they have to abuse alcohol or drugs in order to maintain their image – they will also see it as a reward for fame.
While it may not be practical to hold celebrities directly responsible for drug abuse among their fans, more needs to be done to discourage them from glamorising the behaviour. This can be done by educating people to the real dangers of substance abuse. The sad loss of so many famous people to drug abuse can also be a powerful reminder of what is at stake here.