According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39% of adolescents in the US are current drinkers, and about 22% are current binge drinkers. The average U.S. adolescent is also exposed to about 2.5 hours of popular music per day, and 8 mentions of alcohol brands every day. A study published in the online journal, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has found strong associations between “liking, owning, and correctly identifying music containing alcohol branding and two early problematic alcohol outcomes [drinking and binge drinking].”
Lisa Henriksen, senior research scientist at the Stanford Prevention Research Center states: “Alcohol brand names are quite prevalent in popular music. For example, hip-hop/rap lyrics favor luxury brands, such as Cristal and Hennessy, and brand references in rap music have increased four-fold over time, from 8% in 1979 to 44% in 1997. It would be foolish to think that the alcohol industry is unaware of and uninvolved with alcohol-brand mentions in music. The strategy of associating products with hip culture and celebrities who are attractive to youth comes straight from a playbook written by the tobacco industry.”
Brian A. Primack, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh and Henriksen commented on the tendency for people to believe they are immune from advertising. “Youth tend to think that they are not influenced by media messages,” said Primack. “Interestingly, they will tend to say that other people their age are influenced, but they themselves are not. So, much of this influence may be subconscious.”
“People often underestimate the impact of advertising on health behaviors, such as drinking, smoking, and eating energy-dense foods,” concurred Henriksen. “The idea that people mistakenly assume that others’ behaviors are more influenced by advertising than their own behaviors is known as the third-person effect.”
Drug and alcohol problems continue to be a huge and ever-changing problem among adolescents as well as adults in the United States. It’s important to be educated about the multiple contributing factors and learn the best strategies for prevention and intervention.
Primack, B. A., McClure, A. C., Li, Z. and Sargent, J. D. (2014), Receptivity to and Recall of Alcohol Brand Appearances in U.S. Popular Music and Alcohol-Related Behaviors. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. doi: 10.1111/acer.12408