The Rise of Drugs Use in Music
What is Molly?
When was the last time you really listened to the words in your favorite pop songs? There are more references to drugs and alcohol than you probably realize.
Drugs were once a taboo topic, only spoken of behind closed doors and in dark basements. Of course, drug references in music are nothing new, but they were once reserved for less mainstream music listened to by a select audience. Today though, it’s commonplace to hear nonchalant drug references in some of today’s hottest pop songs.
While alcohol is the most commonly referenced substance in music today, references to 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA – commonly called molly or ecstasy – are on the rise.
For example, Miley Cyrus’s song “We Can’t Stop” created controversy when she used the line “dancing with molly.” Rapper Rick Ross lost his contract with Reebok after rapping about putting “molly all in her champagne,” an allusion to date rape. Madonna’s latest album released in 2012 is titled MDNA, a blatant reference to the drug, and she has also asked concert goers, “How many people in the crowd have seen molly?”
Marijuana references are also common in pop music. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that marijuana use was down in the mid-2000s but has been on the rise since about 2010.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins and Boston University School of Public Health recently conducted a study that involved examining 720 chart-topping songs from 2009 to 2011. Nearly 25 percent of songs in all music categories mentioned alcohol.
Another study looked into 279 chart-topping songs from 2005 and uncovered that 33 percent of them portrayed substance abuse. While drugs were only referenced in 9 percent of pop songs, 77 percent of rap songs featured drug references. The reasons behind the drug use in the songs included peer pressure, sex, partying, violence and/or humor.
Drugs are nearly always shown in a positive light when referenced in music. The downsides or risks – including addiction, violence and being arrested – are hardly ever portrayed. Only 4 percent of the chart-topping songs from 2005 contained anti-use messages, and less than one in three songs portrayed negative consequences of substance abuse.
It’s undeniable that music has power to influence its listeners. With American teens listening to music for an average of 2 1/2 hours every day, they hear approximately 84 explicit drug references daily, depending on the style of music they listen to. All those drug and alcohol references serve as a major source of promotion for substance abuse.
The correlation between increased drug references in pop music and actual drug use among under-aged users is clear. From 2005 to 2009, there was a 123 percent increase in ER visits due to ecstasy use. In addition, at least 4,700 alcohol-related deaths in minors occur each year.
It’s troubling to see drug and alcohol use flaunted so openly by pop artists whom young people admire and look to as an example. It can be difficult to discern between fictitious situations portrayed in songs and actual suggestions to go out and do drugs.
Are musicians taking their right to free speech too far? What is the answer to this dilemma? Censorship isn’t it. It comes down to individual artists’ decisions of what to put in their music. Then it’s up to the listeners to decide whether to play that particular song or change the radio station.
If you have been influenced to use drugs or alcohol – by pop music or any other source – you can get the help you need to start fresh. Call The Treatment Specialist at 866-644-7911
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