Author: Nicholas Chadi and Sharon Levy

Celebration = intoxication is a dangerous message for kids

For kids, celebrating should not go hand-in-hand with substance use

On New Year’s Eve, CNN fielded reporters all over the country to cover and arguably, to define how Americans celebrate. A report from a “puff, pass and paint” party in Denver, in which revelers flaunted their marijuana use, caught the attention of millions of viewers and became a subject of discussion nationally.

The arrival of marijuana in the realm of legal and now socially-accepted substances, strengthens the message that substance use is required for having a good time.Showcasing marijuana use on national television is relatively new following the recent liberalization of marijuana policy in several states and the novelty incited significant coverage. But the underlying message that strives to define substance use as a necessary (and perhaps sufficient) component of celebration is anything but new.

In fact, incessant references to drinking and being drunk have been part of popular film and television culture for decades and now usually goes largely unnoticed. We seem to have accepted that being drunk is synonymous to having a good time, though this message which has its roots in the alcohol industry is more the work of years of successful advertising campaigns than a biologically based truth.

The arrival of marijuana in the realm of legal and now socially-accepted substances, further strengthens the message that substance use is required for having a good time which is already implicitly accepted. This notion risks causing significant harms to our kids and deserves closer scrutiny.

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