From music to fashion modeling trends, much of pop culture glamorizes substance abuse and addiction, often by drawing a seemingly necessary correlation between substance abuse and fame and success.
This kind of portrayal not only leaves a misguided impression on people who might enter an addiction, but it’s also harmful to the addicts and loved ones of addicts who are navigating the very real and long-term horror of addiction.
Thankfully, some films are taking steps toward a more enlightened view. While A Star is Born might still be glamorizing addiction and substance abuse to some extent, but at least it’s showing some of the nuances of being in a relationship where addiction is involved.
One of the most important things to remember is the harmful effects that substance abuse and addiction have on relationships. At the same time, relationships are often some of the best healing paths for people struggling with addiction, because relationships make it harder for addicts to isolate themselves and makes compassionate intervention more natural. Whether it’s through relationships like in A Star is Born or not, the most important thing pop culture can do is remind us that addiction treatment and recovery are always options.
Pop culture’s responsibility is to navigate the fine line between showing the hope of recovery but also not watering down the dangers and negative effects of addiction and substance abuse. And while some movies like Requiem for a Dream do portray the authentic dark side of addiction, it also shows the addicts as beyond hope of recovery. Saying that recovery is out of reach is also harmful. Thankfully, culture’s perception is slowly changing, especially with the laws around narcotic possession. Many non-violent offenders are now given the option of going to addiction treatment instead of going to jail.
Whether we are making laws or making movies, it’s important to remember that there is always hope for addiction treatment and recovery.
The emphasis on hope is important in part because again, much of pop culture tends to display addiction or substance abuse as a choice, even as a “party lifestyle.” But once an addiction takes over, it isn’t a decision anymore, it’s a serious medical disease.
Just as the long-term effects of substance abuse are often downsized in pop culture, so are the recoveries, if they are shown at all.
Because addiction is a disease, recovery isn’t a quick fix, but it is always possible. It’s a challenge to manage an addiction daily, which is why we need to remember to support recovering addicts as they navigate their unique challenge to maintain their relationships, jobs, family lives, and contributions to society.
We need to do our best to empower our community towards understanding addiction better by removing both the glamor of substance abuse and the stigma of addiction treatment. If you or a loved one needs compassionate support and effective addiction treatment, we’re here for you with 30, 60, or 90-day Residential Treatment Programs. We believe there is always hope! Learn more by calling (800) 296-1868 or use our convenient Contact form.