Role Models and Addiction Prevention

Posted in Treatment

Young people in Atlanta learn how to function, thrive, and survive in the world by watching others and imitating them. While there are certainly biological factors that contribute to issues like substance abuse and addiction, the impact of role models in the development of children, teens, and young adults cannot be overstated. Whether on a celebrity level (athletes, musicians, entertainers) or a personal level (parents, extended family, neighborhood friends), role models have incredible influence over the attitudes and actions of the next generation – for better or for worse.

Cultural Role Models and Substance Abuse

Although many entertainers shirk the responsibilities of being a role model, the fact is that their movies and music, as well as their on-stage and off-stage antics, have a significant impact on the imaginations and values of their fans in Atlanta.

  • A rap star sings about dealing drugs and weapons as a part of a glorified thug life
  • A movie star is constantly in the entertainment media for drunk driving or public intoxication
  • A rock star overdoses on drugs or alcohol after a concert
  • A popular teen movie depicts drug and alcohol abuse as a prerequisite aspect of teen life
  • A country star makes light of binge drinking
  • A pop star goes out of her way to speak out against substance abuse

While it may be a stretch to blame entertainers for the actions of their fans, the fact is that music, movies, news media, and websites do much to shape the culture that young people grow up in. When substance abuse is constantly demonstrated, depicted, and even glamorized it makes sense that the consumers of that culture will take on a set of values that is not healthy. Conversely, when pop culture icons make an effort to promote responsible and healthy behavior it can have a positive and inspirational effect on their fans in Atlanta.

Personal Role Models and Character Development

Even more significant than the role modeling of celebrities is the message sent to young people by those closest to them in Atlanta:

  • Dad has to have a few drinks every night when he gets home from work
  • An aunt seems to get noticeably drunk at every family gathering
  • A big brother is constantly getting in trouble for drug or alcohol abuse
  • Neighborhood friends are left unsupervised by their parents and experiment with drugs
  • Whenever mom gets upset she pours a drink
  • A “cool” neighbor is always the life of the party when he’s had a few too many
  • A college student volunteers to be a “big brother” to a fatherless young man in his community and consistently demonstrates respectful and healthy life skills

People tend to take on the values and habits of the community they inhabit. The impact of one positive role model can be incredible in the life of a young person in Atlanta surrounded by substance abuse and addiction. As important as clearly articulated words about responsibility and health are, it is even more critical that young people see their role models living out those values in real time.

24 Hour Addiction Prevention Helpline

If you are concerned about the substance abuse patterns of a friend or loved one in Atlanta and need ideas of how you can be a better role model for the people in your life we can help. If you are concerned about your own substance abuse issues or tendencies and are looking for good role models in your life, we can help with that as well. Call now for free, confidential addiction recovery help; we’re available 24 hours a day.