Substance Use in Popular Movies and Music Sponsored by


With what other behavior is substance use associated?

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With what other behavior is substance use associated?

Percentages are based on 156 songs referring to illicit drug use and 149 songs referring to alcohol use.

Of songs referring to illicit drug use, 30 percent associated use with sexual activity or romantic relationships, 20 percent with wealth or luxury, and 20 percent with crime or violence. (Figure 2)

Of songs referring to alcohol use, 34 percent associated drinking with sex or romance, 24 percent with wealth or luxury, 13 percent with crime or violence, and 21 percent with expressions of bravado or power.

Driving or other risky behavior was associated with substance use in only three songs, suicide in two, and rape in one. There were no examples of songs that connected substance use with Satanic or occult practices or beliefs.

How often does brand information appear in lyrics?

Percentages are based on 156 songs referring to illicit drug use and 149 songs referring to alcohol use.

Brand names occurred in 30 percent of the songs with some sort of alcohol reference.

Most brand name mentions were found in Rap music, in which 48 percent of songs with an alcohol reference carried brand name information. Hot-100 had 19 percent, Country-Western 4 percent, and both Alternative Rock and Heavy Metal had 0 percent.

The specific brands mentioned tended to be high-end, luxury products, such as Remy Martin, Hennessy, and Dom Perignon.

Twenty-one percent of the tobacco references contained brand information, but this constituted only 6 songs out of the sample of 1,000.

S. What motivations and consequences are linked to substance use?

Percentages are based on 156 songs referring to illicit drug use and 149 songs referring to alcohol use.

Only 9 percent of songs with references to illicit drug use and 10 percent of songs with references to alcohol use provided any information about what motivated use.

For both drugs and alcohol, mental avoidance of troubles (e.g., to forget a fight with a lover) was the most common motivation for use: this occurred in 6 of the 14 songs that mentioned a motivation for drinking, and in 9 of the 12 songs that referred to a motivation for illicit drug use.

Information relating to the consequences of use appeared in 19 percent of songs with a reference to illicit drug use (Figure 2) and 9 percent of those referring to alcohol use. (Figure 3)

For both illicit drug and alcohol use, consequences were judged to be slightly more negative than positive: on a scale from 1 (very negative consequences) to 5 (very positive), with 3 being neutral, the average was 2.3 for illicit drugs and 2.6 for alcohol.

Of the 42 songs with information relating to the consequences of either drug or alcohol use, 42 percent cited mental consequences (such as loss of ability to think clearly), and 52 percent mentioned physical consequences (e.g., disease, weight loss).

Other consequences appeared much less often in these 42 songs: emotional effects were mentioned in 6 (14 percent), consequences to social relationships in 3

(7 percent), and legal consequences in 2 (5 percent).
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Appendix A:
Adolescents, Movies, and Music

Teenagers are major consumers of entertainment media, and so it is widely believed that they may be influenced by the depiction of substances—alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs—in film and music. The following statistics indicate the importance that movies and music play in the lives of young people:


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Movies and Home Video

U.S. movie box office receipts totaled $6 billion in 1997. Youth ages 12 to 20 purchase 26 percent of movie tickets, although they make up only 16 percent of the population.

Ninety percent of 12- to 20-year-olds report going to the movies frequently or occasionally.

Moviegoing is considered an "in" activity among 92 percent of teens.

Sixty-three percent of teens ages 9 to 17 say that it is important to see the latest movies.

Watching a video is America’s favorite leisure activity, with Americans spending $7.4 billion on videotape rentals and $7.6 billion on videotape sales in 1997.

Sixty-two percent of youth ages 9 to 17 say they watch a video at least once a week.

Seventy-nine percent of teens ages 10 to 17 have watched an R-rated movie with their parents on video or in a theater.


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Music

In 1997, Americans spent $12 billion on music.

Listening to music is students’ number one non-school activity: 87 percent of

13- to 17-year-olds report listening to music after school, and two-thirds name music as a hobby.

Adolescents spend between 4 and 5 hours a day listening to music and watching music videos.

American teenagers listen to an estimated 10,500 hours of rock music between the 7th and 12th grades—just 500 fewer hours than they spend in school over 12 years.

In the last 3 months, 71 percent of teens purchased at least one full-length CD,

33 percent bought a CD single, and 35 percent bought a full-length cassette.

More than one-third of youth between the ages of 12 and 14 watch music videos daily.

About 90 percent of teens report knowing many or all the lyrics of their favorite songs.
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Appendix B:

Review of Media Content Analyses: 1980-1998

Twenty-one content analyses that examine portrayals of illegal drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and/or legal drugs in media have been published since 1980. As the following annotated bibliography indicates, the research encompasses a variety of approaches and concerns.

The substance of primary concern has been alcohol, examined by 15 of the 21 studies. Eleven studies focused exclusively on alcohol, five on tobacco, and one on legal and over-the-counter drugs. Two studies examined both alcohol and tobacco; one looked at illegal drugs, legal drugs, and alcohol; and one looked at all four substances.

The medium most frequently studied has been television. Seventeen of the studies analyzed television content. Most concentrated on prime-time fictional content, but daytime soap operas, news and documentary programs, commercials, and music videos also received attention. Of the four studies on movies made for theatrical release, three examined only tobacco and one looked at all four substance categories. No work concerned with substance use in popular song lyrics has been located, although one study reports on tobacco and alcohol use in music videos.

Comparisons among studies are somewhat difficult to make due to differences in units of analysis. Movies do not conveniently compare to television programs (i.e., half-hour television programs cannot be compared directly to much longer movies), but even within television, program units may range from 90-minute made-for-television movies to hour dramas to half-hour situation comedies and soap operas to even briefer music video and commercial formats. Compounding the problem, different studies often use different units of analysis within what might otherwise be comparable units. For example, tobacco use has been examined in a variety of ways, in terms of whether or not tobacco appeared in a movie or a television program, the number of scenes in which tobacco appeared or was used, its appearance per 5-minute interval, the total amount of time tobacco appeared on screen, or the number of incidents (defined as individual camera shots in which a character explicitly used tobacco). Similarly, alcohol use has been examined in movies in a variety of ways.

On still another level, some studies coded verbal references to various substances; some concentrated on the appearance of a substance regardless of whether or not it was used; others focused on use; still others paid attention to a variety of character and context attributes associated with use or the frequency of use.

Of the two studies concerned with illegal drugs, one tallied the number of television news programs, public service announcements, or documentaries that mentioned illegal drugs, and the other the number of 5-minute intervals per film in which illegal drug use appeared.

Despite large differences in variables coded and units of analysis, data from the combined studies enable a few preliminary generalizations. In general, tobacco and alcohol are consumed at relatively high rates; smoking is more prevalent in television and film than in the real world, and it is increasing still further on television. In both television and film, alcoholic beverages are more likely to be consumed than non-alcoholic beverages. Drinkers and smokers tend to be leading characters, often protagonists, and usually successful. Underage drinking and smoking are relatively uncommon in both media.

Illegal drug use is seldom portrayed on television; the one prior study that examined movies also found low rates of illegal drug references. Illegal drug users tend to be unattractive, low-status, and/or criminals. More detailed findings can be found in the following sources.

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Annotated Bibliography

Breed, W., and De Foe, J.R. (1981). "The portrayal of the drinking process on prime-time television." Journal of Communication, 31, pp. 58-67.
Substance(s) of interest: Alcohol. Sample: Top television situation comedies and dramas from 1976-77 season. Unit of analysis: Programs; "significant alcohol scenes" (scenes in which heavy drinking, evaluations of drinking, consequences, etc. appear). Selected findings: TV characters are more likely to drink alcohol than all other beverages combined. Situation comedies and dramas portray drinking/drinkers differently. Drinkers are generally "good" characters, but when they drink too much, they seldom suffer censure or other consequences. Youth drink very rarely, but sometimes express a longing for alcohol.

Breed, W., and De Foe, J.R. (1984). "Drinking and smoking on television, 1950-1982." Journal of Public Health Policy, 5, pp. 257-270.

Substance(s) of interest: Alcohol, tobacco. Sample: Television dramas and situation comedies from the 1950’s through 1982. Unit of analysis: Programs, drinking scenes, drinking acts. Selected findings: Tobacco use declined and alcohol use increased over the 3 decades. Very little smoking was portrayed in the 1981-82 season. Alcohol use increased steadily.

Cafiso, J., Goodstadt, M.S., Garlington, W.K., and Sheppard, M.A. (1982). "Television portrayal of alcohol and other beverages." Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 43, pp. 1232-1243.

Substance(s) of interest: Alcohol. Sample: Representative week of television programming and commercials from west coast television affiliates of ABC, CBS, and NBC, summer, 1975. Unit of analysis: "Drinking events" (alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages), programs, time periods. Selected findings: Alcohol appears most frequently in motion pictures/dramas, followed by situation comedies, and daytime serials; overall alcohol consumption rate is low, but slightly more alcoholic beverages than non-alcoholic beverages are consumed during prime time; relief was the most common reason given for drinking.

Cruz, J., and Wallack, L. (1986). "Trends in tobacco use on television." American Journal of Public Health, 76, pp. 698-699.


Substances(s) of interest: Tobacco. Sample: Composite 2-week sample of regularly scheduled entertainment prime-time television programs from fall, 1984. Unit of analysis: Smoking acts. Selected findings: One smoking act per hour of programming; more smoking in dramas than situation comedies; two-thirds of smokers were lead characters with 70 percent cast in strong, enduring roles.

De Foe, J.R., and Breed, W. (1988). "Response to the alcoholic by ‘the other’ on prime-time television." Contemporary Drug Problems, 15(2), pp. 205-228.

Substance(s) of interest: Alcohol. Sample: Systematic samples of eight seasons of top-ranked prime-time television entertainment programs (dramas and situation comedies) between 1976 and 1986. Unit of analysis: Scenes in which "alcoholic" characters elicit responses from one or more other characters. Selected findings: Problem drinkers seldom portrayed (74 scenes in 1,417 episodes); responses of "others" were mixed. Tendency to focus on jokes, various forms of enabling and sequences of "game playing." A few scenes did portray responses that might move an alcoholic individual toward reality.

De Foe, J.R., and Breed, W. (1988). "Youth and alcohol in television stories, with suggestions to the industry for alternative portrayals." Adolescence, 23, pp. 533-550.

Substance(s) of interest: Alcohol. Sample: Systematic samples of eight seasons of top-ranked prime-time television entertainment programs (dramas and situation comedies) between 1976 and 1986. Unit of analysis: "Significant alcohol scenes" (scenes in which heavy drinking, evaluations of drinking, consequences of drinking, etc. appear). Selected findings: Less than 2 percent of drinking on television was done by underage drinkers; depictions of young persons drinking were associated with portrayals of gangs or criminal activity. Exception is portrayal of a troubled youth, who ultimately learns alcohol does not solve problems. Qualitative analysis of a few individual programs that portrayed underage drinking.

DuRant, R.H., Rome, E.S., Rich, M., Allred, E., Emans, S.J., and Woods, E.R. (1997). "Tobacco and alcohol use behaviors portrayed in music videos: A content analysis." American Journal of Public Health, 87, pp. 1131-1135.

Substance(s) of interest: Alcohol, tobacco. Sample: 518 music videos recorded from MTV, VH1, CMT, and BET in May and June, 1994. Unit of analysis: Videos; individual occurrences of smoking-related and alcohol-related behavior. Selected findings: Tobacco use was highest on MTV, with alcohol use similar across networks. Tobacco and alcohol use were slightly higher in Rap videos. Lead performers most often use tobacco and alcohol; alcohol use is associated with a high degree of sexuality.

Fedler, F., Phillips, M., Raker, P., Schefsky, D., and Soluri, J. (1994). "Network commercials promote legal drugs: outnumber anti-drugs PSAs 45-to-1." Journal of Drug Education, 24(4), pp. 291-302.

Substance(s) of interest: Illegal drugs, alcohol, legal drugs. Sample: One week of television commercials from ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC in September 1990. Unit of analysis: Commercials; public service announcements (PSAs); news stories; documentaries. Selected findings: 6 percent of commercials were for over-the-counter drugs, and there were few commercials for alcoholic beverages (0.6 percent). There were 17 anti-drug PSAs, 2 news stories about the problem of illegal drugs, and 1 news story about alcohol. Commercials promoting legal drugs and alcohol outnumbered networks’ news stories, documentaries, and PSAs about illegal drugs by a ratio of 39:1.

Hazan, A.R., and Glantz, S.A. (1995). "Current trends in tobacco use on prime-time fictional television." American Journal of Public Health, 85, pp. 116-117.


Substance(s) of interest: Tobacco. Sample: Three composite weeks of fall 1992 prime-time programming on ABC, CBS, and NBC. Unit of analysis: Tobacco events including anti-smoking messages. Selected findings: 24 percent of programs contain at least one tobacco event; 92 percent were pro-tobacco events, and 8 percent were anti-smoking messages. In terms of character analysis, 55 percent of smokers were "good guys;" high-status characters were more likely than medium- or low-status characters to smoke. Higher rates of smoking occur on television than in real life.

Hazan, A.R., Lipton, H.L., and Glantz, S.A. (1994). "Popular films do not reflect current tobacco use." American Journal of Public Health, 84, pp. 998-999.

Substance(s) of interest: Tobacco. Sample: Two randomly selected, feature length films from the top 20 list each year from 1960 to 1990. Unit of analysis: Five-minute intervals of film time. Selected findings: Rate of tobacco use did not change over the 30-year period. Smokers were generally successful, attractive white males; smoking was three times as prevalent in films as in actual population.

Heilbronn, L.M. (1988). "What does alcohol mean? Alcohol’s use as a symbolic code." Contemporary Drug Problems, 15(2), pp. 229-248.

Substance(s) of interest: Alcohol. Sample: 77 prime-time continuing episodes from 1984 television season containing "alcohol appearances" (see Wallack, Breed, and Cruz, 1986). Unit of analysis: Program. Selected findings: A qualitative (semiotic) analysis of how alcohol-related behavior is used to signify various "meanings" in television programming. Used to establish types of settings (e.g., different types of alcohol signify different life styles), types of characters (e.g., preference for beer often indicates working class status).

Lowery, S.A. (1980). "Soap and booze in the afternoon: An analysis of the portrayal of alcohol use in daytime serials." Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 41, pp. 829-838.


Substance(s) of interest: Alcohol. Sample: Four consecutive weeks of 14 daytime soap operas and 12 daytime game shows from spring 1977. Unit of analysis: half-hour programs;
1-minute intervals. Selected findings: Alcohol-related events occurred at an average rate of 3 per program in soap operas and .3 per program in game shows. About half the alcohol-related events in soap operas were actual drinking events; drinking occurred most frequently in the home.

Mathios, A., Avery, R., Bisogni, C., and Shanahan, J. (1998). "Alcohol portrayal on prime-time television: Manifest and latent messages." Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 59, pp. 305-310.

Substance(s) of interest: Alcohol. Sample: Two weeks of broadcast television programs from ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC from fall 1994 and spring 1995. Unit of Analysis: Food and beverage episodes within programs; characters. Selected Findings: Alcoholic beverages were the most frequently portrayed food or drink; alcohol appeared with characters of all ages, accounting for a significant percent of food and drink incidents for adolescents. When adolescents are involved in alcohol episodes, they are portrayed with significantly more negative personality characteristics than older characters.

Signorielli, N. (1987). "Drinking, sex, and violence on television: The cultural indicators perspective." Journal of Drug Education, 17(3), pp. 245-260.

Substance(s) of interest: Alcohol. Sample: 17 annual week-long samples of prime-time and weekend daytime network dramatic TV programs from 1969 to 1985. Unit of analysis: Program; major characters. Selected findings: References to alcohol and drinking increased steadily from 1969 to 1985. The harmful effects of drinking alcohol were rarely mentioned. Drinking was often associated with sexual behavior. About 37 percent of major characters drink, and they do not differ significantly from major characters who do not drink. Alcoholics were treated quite negatively.

Stockwell, T.F., and Glantz, S.A. (1997). "Tobacco use is increasing in popular films." Tobacco Control, 6, pp. 282-284.


Substance(s) of interest: Tobacco. Sample: Five randomly selected feature length films from the top 20 list from 1990 through 1996; two randomly selected, feature length films from the top 20 list each year from 1960 to 1990. Unit of analysis: 5-minute intervals of film time. Selected findings: Film portrayals of tobacco use bottomed out in the eighties, and have since increased to levels last seen in the sixties. Films continue to portray smokers as successful, white males, while portrayal of smoking among women is increasing.

Teens take a look at tobacco use in the top 250 movies from 1991-1996. (1997). American Lung Association of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, Sacramento, CA.

Substance(s) of interest: Tobacco. Sample: Top 50 box office movies each year from 1991 through 1996. Unit of analysis: Individual camera shots of tobacco use. Selected findings: 77 percent of the movies contained at least one tobacco incident; 23 percent had no incidents; 50 percent had 10 or more incidents. Tobacco use was portrayed as attractive in 33 percent of the movies, relaxing in 38 percent of the movies, and as a means of rebellion in 16 percent. Anti-smoking messages appeared in 29 percent of the movies. Leading and/or supporting actors smoked in 75 percent of movies that portrayed smoking; men lit up more than twice as often as women.

Terre, L., Drabman, R.S., and Speer, P. (1991). "Health-relevant behaviors in media." Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 21, pp. 1303-1319.

Substance(s) of interest: Illegal drugs, legal drugs, tobacco, alcohol. Sample: 20 top box-office films each year from 1977-78 through 1987-88 (200 films). Unit of analysis: 5-minute intervals of film time. Selected findings: Overall, smoking increased over the time period. Smoking and illegal drug use were more common in R-rated movies. Alcohol consumption was greater in non-R-rated movies. Males were more likely than females to use tobacco or alcohol; low-status characters were more likely than high-status characters to engage in illegal drug use.

Tsao, J.C. (1997). "Informational and symbolic content of over-the-counter drug advertising on television." Journal of Drug Education, 27(2), pp. 173-197.


Substance(s) of interest: Over-the-counter drugs. Sample: 150 commercials for over-the-counter drugs recorded from ABC, CBS, and NBC in 1993. Unit of analysis: Individual ads. Selected findings: Drug disclosures and drug performance most common type of information, followed by drug quality, drug ingredients, and drug popularity. Of the ads, 88 percent present over-the-counter drugs as a simple solution to relieve symptoms; 25 percent depict them casually rather than as products to be used carefully.

Wallack, L, Breed, W., and De Foe, J.R. (1985). "Alcohol and soap operas: Drinking in the light of day." Journal of Drug Education, 15(4), pp. 365-379.

Substance(s) of interest: Alcohol. Sample: 4 ½ years of the daytime soap opera "All My Children," including 30 consecutive episodes from 1984. Unit of analysis: Characters. Selected findings: Depicted drinking and drinking problems realistically and accurately. There were three patterns of alcohol use identified: social facilitation; crisis management; and escape from reality. Negative discussions or consequences were associated only with drinking to escape from reality, and program may encourage drinking for purposes of social facilitation and crisis management.

Wallack, L., Breed, W., and Cruz, J. (1987). "Alcohol on prime-time television." Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 48(1), pp. 33-38.

Substance(s) of interest: Alcohol. Sample: Composite 2-week sample for all regularly scheduled, network, prime-time dramatic programming, fall 1984 (127 episodes). Unit of analysis: Program episodes; scenes; alcohol "appearances." Selected findings: 80 percent of the episodes contained one or more appearances of alcohol; 90 percent of dramas referred to alcohol; alcohol was ingested in 60 percent of programs. There were more than 10 drinking acts per hour. Alcohol was consumed almost three times more frequently than non-alcoholic beverages.

Wallack, L., Grube, J.W., Madden, P.A., and Breed, W. (1990). "Portrayals of alcohol on prime-time television." Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 51(5), pp. 428-437.


Substances(s) of interest: Alcohol. Sample: Composite 3-week sample of fictional prime-time network television programming from 1986 fall season. Unit of analysis: Program episodes; scenes. Selected findings: Alcohol appeared in 64 percent of episodes and was consumed in 50 percent; alcohol drinking acts occurred more than eight times per hour; most drinking occurred in made-for-television movies, followed by situation comedies, theatrical movies, and dramas. Regularly appearing characters were more likely to drink than non-regularly appearing characters; drinkers tended to be higher status, white, upper-class professionals.



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