Sample Essay on Drug Substance Abuse


One of the greatest menaces facing the modern-day children and adolescents is drug and substance abuse. According to the AAP article, adolescent and children substance abuse causes are widely considered multi-factorial. The article goes ahead to mention that the increase in substance use can also be attributed to the media’s influence. Precisely, tobacco and alcohol are the greatest threats to the children and adolescents of the modern-day generation. It is argued that close to $25 billion is invested yearly on advertisements related to alcohol, tobacco, and other prescription drugs (Strasburger, 2010). It cannot be refuted that digital media have also played a fundamental role in the advertisement of drugs and substance to underage individuals. Through print, mass, and social media, adolescents have incessantly had access to mixed messages related to substance use, and this has contributed significantly to the engagement of young individuals in the use of the same (Strasburger, 2010). As noted earlier, alcohol and tobacco are the two most significant gateway drugs and have for a long time been regarded as the earliest drugs abused by a high percentage of adolescents or otherwise teenagers across the globe. Apparently, the increased number of alcohol and tobacco-related advertisements on various media platforms should be blamed for the constant engagement of teenagers in substance abuse. Advertising has played a part in making drinking and smoking, seem reasonable and acceptable activities in the modern society. Research conducted gives a revelation that close to 30 percent of adolescent alcohol and tobacco use is owed to advertisements on various media platforms.

Today, new technologies such as the Internet, cellular phones, and social networking sites have a hand in the exposure of adolescents to drug and substance abuse (Lowinson, 2005). Pediatrician’s role in the ‘just say no to drugs campaign’ cannot be ignored. For instance, they should take part in encouraging adults particularly parents to limit adolescents’ unlimited media use, limit children’s access to television venues dominated by excessive substance use depictions, and other various ways  (Strasburger, 2010). In this paper, substance use portrayal found in various media  such as the Budweiser Super Bowl Commercial known as ‘Lost Dog’ is compared and contrasted with alcohol consumption-related information found in the textbook Drugs, Behavior, and modern society. Besides, the paper entails a comparison and contrast of substance use portrayal in the ‘Lost Dog’ commercial with the criticism of various portrayals found in the media as seen in the AAP  article. Moreover, conclusions are drawn relative to the substance use portrayals in the ‘Lost Dog’ commercial. The paper concludes by giving a review of the suggestions of the AAP article at the end of its policy statement.

Comparison and contrast of substance use portrayal in the ‘Lost Dog’ commercial with the textbook

It should be noted that advertising in several media platforms portrays substance use such as alcohol consumption as normal activities. In the YouTube video, Budweiser, which is a beer brand, is described as a social beverage that is enjoyable especially in the company of friends (Budweiser, 2015). In the YouTube commercial, people are highly encouraged to consume alcohol and other related substances, particularly when in the company of friends to have enjoyable and unforgettable experiences (Budweiser, 2015). This is highlighted when the puppy owner in the commercial sits in his barn with the puppy and horses while enjoying a Budweiser beer. In contrast, in the textbook Drugs, Behavior, and Modern Society, alcohol brands such as wine, beer, and distilled spirits are regarded as social drugs and not social beverages. The textbook mostly discourages alcohol consumption and abuse particularly among adolescents and attributes this to various reasons. In the book, alcohol consumption among youths in high schools and colleges poses myriads of threats such as intoxication, deterioration in academic performance, as well as engagement in unplanned sexual activities or unprotected sexual behaviors (Levinthal, 2012). Moreover, the textbook portrays other adverse effects of alcohol consumption such as toxic reactions, heat loss, diuretic effects, effects on sleep and on pregnancy, induction and interaction with other drugs, incessant hangovers, blackouts, and involvement in road accidents particularly for individuals who drive while on the influence of alcohol (Levinthal, 2012). Arguably, alcohol interferes with the brain, and thus, could have serious physiological and behavioral effects such as those mentioned above.

In the real sense, the accuracy of the messages portrayed in the ‘Lost Dog’ commercial in the YouTube video is refutable. In relation to substance use actual data, it can be seen that instead of causing enjoyment and triggering social interactions among friends as portrayed in the commercial, alcohol consumption has adverse effects particularly on social interaction among friends. For a long time, alcohol consumption has caused disagreements and conflicts among friends, and this underscores the fact that it jeopardizes social interaction and connection (Pagliaro & Pagliaro, 2012). Studies reveal that over 50 percent of physical violence cases in countries such as the US and Canada is preceded by the use of alcohol, and this means that social connection and interaction, particularly among youths, is jeopardized. Alcohol use has also played an integral role in the murders witnessed by individuals in the modern generation. It is argued that 50-60 percent of deaths globally are committed when either of the victims is drunk (Levinthal, 2012).


Comparison and contrast of substance use portrayal in the ‘Lost Dog’ commercial with the critics facing media portrayals in the AAP article

Undoubtedly, there is a contradiction between substance use portrayal in the ‘Lost Dog’ commercial found on YouTube and the criticism of portrayals found in the media as seen in the AAP  article. On one hand, the YouTube ad portrays the positives of alcohol consumption such as social connection and interaction and ignores its adverse effects.  On the contrary, it is noticeable that the AAP article discourages alcohol and substance abuse by highlighting numerous negative effects of the same. It is seen that substance use, particularly among adolescents worldwide, is largely influenced by media platforms such as YouTube through the ‘Lost Dog’ commercial, which champions or otherwise campaigns for the consumption of the Budweiser beer brand. The fact that over $25 billion is invested yearly on advertising alcohol, tobacco, and other illegal drugs, has seen the increase in the number of adolescents who engage in alcohol and substance abuse worldwide (Strasburger, 2010).

Most importantly, the advent of modern technology such as the Internet and cellular phones, have played an integral role in the increased number of adolescents and children who engage in alcohol and substance use. It is seen that the contribution of various media platforms such as YouTube, through the ‘Lost Dog’ commercial, is slowly becoming appreciated and recognized in the world today. Moreover, the fact that tobacco and alcohol use appear continuously in several movies means that the war against alcohol and substance abuse particularly among adolescents who watch the same has been made even more difficult (Strasburger, 2010).


Conclusions about substance use portrayal in the YouTube ‘Lost Dog’ commercial

As noted earlier, the ‘Lost Dog’ commercial found on YouTube champions for the consumption of alcohol as it highlights the advantages of the Budweiser beer brand. Essentially, this type of portrayal of substance use has various implications particularly on the number of adolescents engaging in substance use and the physiological, health, behavioral effects of the same. First, the fact that the commercial highlights the positives of consuming the beer brand imply that the number of adolescents attracted to alcohol and substance use is likely to increase (Pagliaro & Pagliaro, 2012). Today, with the advent of the Internet and cellular phones, a good number of adolescents can access media platforms such as YouTube quickly, and unless this is stopped, the modern society will face challenges in the future in dealing with alcohol and substance use among underage individuals. Second, substance use portrayal found on YouTube through the ‘Lost Dog’ commercial could have an implication in that more adolescents could experience acute physiological effects when they engage in alcohol consumption. Some of the alcohol-influenced serious physiological effects attributed to the portrayal include toxic reactions, heat loss, diuretic effects, impact on pregnancy, impact on sleep, interactions with other illegal drugs, and hangovers (Levinthal, 2012). Third, the portrayal could result in acute behavioral effects among children and adolescents as they will be influenced or attracted to the engagement in alcohol and substance use.

The message being portrayed by the ‘Lost Dog’ commercial is that the Budweiser beer is the beer for one to drink especially when in the company of friends. The commercial also conveys a message that the Budweiser brand connects friends and is more enjoyable as compared to other beer brands. The commercial is seen to target alcohol consumers from all walks of life, and the fact that underage individuals could be influenced to engage in alcohol and substance use after accessing it is one of the challenges accompanying its advertisement on various media platforms. The messages as mentioned earlier portrayed by the ‘Lost Dog’ commercial are represent the use of beer, which is an alcoholic brand, inaccurately. This is can be attested to the fact that rather than being enjoyable and connecting friends, alcohol consumption results in adverse acute behavioral effects such as physical violence and aggression (Levinthal, 2012), which jeopardize the social connection and interaction of friends or social groups. To achieve the primary objective of driving teenagers and children away from alcohol and substance use, parents, schools, governments, and other stakeholders should ensure that media portrayals depict their brands accurately, and this means that they should show both the positive and negative consequences of various alcohol brands and substance advertised.

Review of the suggestions of the AAP article

The AAP article gives numerous suggestions that if implemented could see a decrease in the number of children and adolescents who get engaged in alcohol and substance use. One of the suggestions given by the article is that pediatricians should play a role in encouraging parents to limit children’s and adolescents’ unsupervised media use, and this can be achieved by removing televisions and related facilities from children’s bedrooms. The article also suggests that pediatricians should ensure that parents do not engage in irresponsible social behaviors such as cigarette and alcohol consumption in the presence of their children, and should also ensure that television is turned off particularly during meals. Moreover, the article champions for community advocacy by pediatricians such as encouraging school systems to embrace the incorporation of media education into their curricula. The suggestions that pediatricians should be involved in legislative advocacy and work hand in hand with every stakeholder in encouraging appropriate behavior cannot be overlooked. Agreeably, one of the most important recommendations is that pediatricians need to work together with all stakeholders to encourage responsible behavior particularly among children and adolescents. The implementation of this recommendation would see pediatricians ensure that medical groups together with public health groups and companies take responsibility in the advertisement tobacco and alcohol, and this underscores its importance (Strasburger, 2010).

The recommendations given by the AAP article are necessary as they would play an integral role in helping drive away children and adolescents from alcohol and substance use if implemented by the relevant stakeholders. The AAP article’s primary concern is the fact that substance use among adolescents in the modern generation is on the rise, and this is highlighted by the fact that several adolescents are involved in the use tobacco and alcohol. Mostly, if followed and successfully implemented, the recommendations given by the article could play a fundamental role and would be useful in addressing the article’s primary concern relating to adolescent substance use.


Budweiser (2015, Jan 28). Budweiser USA: #BestBuds | 2015 Budweiser Super Bowl Commercial “Lost Dog”. [Video File]. Retrieved from

Levinthal, C. (2012).  Drugs, behavior, and modern society (7th ed.).  Boston, MA:  Allyn & Bacon.

Lowinson, J. H. (2005). Substance abuse: A comprehensive textbook. Philadelphia, Penns: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Pagliaro, L. A., & Pagliaro, A. M. (2012). Handbook of child and adolescent drug and substance abuse: Pharmacological, developmental, and clinical considerations. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley and Sons.

Strasburger, V. (2010). Children, Adolescents, Substance Abuse, and the Media. Pediatrics. 791-799. Retrieved January 13, 2015.