Saturday, March 16, 2013

Celebrity drug use influences teens

By Anna Dreiling

Every day, teens listen to the endless reports of celebrities doing drugs in Hollywood. 

The same sense of celebrity imitation that corporations rely on when hiring a celebrity spokesperson to advertise their products can work in relation to drug use. Some teens tend to idolize and imitate celebrities and everything they do—including drugs.

“I think that celebrities can have an impact on anyone in society, including teenagers. The celebrities are always looked up to, so teens tend to idolize and admire them,” Dr. Ching-Yen Godwin, Arapahoe’s school psychologist, said.

Godwin believes that the seeming commonality of celebrity drug use aids in its influence on teenage society.

“Kids rationalize, ‘the celebrities do it, so I should try it,’” she said. “When celebrities are in the spotlight, everything they do is sensationalized and amplified to the point of turning into a sort of idolization. Teens, at this vulnerable point in time in their lives, are very likely to be influenced by this.”

The recent prescription drug incident at Castle View High School, (CVHS) in Castle Rock, CO, served as a perfect example of the onslaught of prescription drugs into the teenage world. According to the Denver Post, on Feb. 8 nine CVHS students were hospitalized after ingesting oxycodone that one of the students had brought to school. The Denver Post also reported that in a later incident, a 13-year-old Castle Rock Middle School student gave three Vicodin pills to a 15-year-old CVHS sophomore.

Godwin thinks that these incidents could also be explained by the general acceptance of drugs in popular culture. 

“Teenagers are desensitized to drug use—they see it over and over, and eventually they get used to it. To them, it almost seems common. It becomes part of the culture.”

Though celebrities can influence teenage drug use, some teens choose to avoid following such poor judgment. 

Sophomore Kim Christian, for example, does not let celebrities influence her actions. 

“The world today is surrounded by stories and tabloids about celebrities doing drugs without consequences,” she said. “I love acting and want to be an actress someday, so I never want to do drugs and end up like celebrities who have died because of drug use. Many celebrities who have been at the height of their fame have had their lives ended with drugs.”

Overall, Christian hopes that teens will learn to ignore celebrities’ bad behavior.

“Doing drugs changes your life forever,” she said. “Drugs may make you feel ‘good’ or ‘cool’ for a while, but in the end you’ll end up more unhappy than one ‘high’ can cure.”

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