Ella F, Junior
Losing a role model has become a common occurrence for today’s teens. On November 15th, 2017, famed rapper, Lil Peep, passed away due to an accidental drug overdose. The tragedy struck especially hard among teenagers, who took to social media to say their emotional goodbyes. Each post from a devastated fan lowered the morale of rap aficionados around the world. This loss, however, did not mark the end of the celebrity overdose epidemic; it was only the beginning. The death of Lil Peep was soon followed by the near-fatal overdose of Disney star-turned pop singer, Demi Lovato, as well as the drug-related death of Mac Miller – a very recent tragedy that reopened the wound for many. Hollywood is no stranger to drug addiction, but why are so many young stars falling victim to the death trap of substance abuse?
The media has played a crucial role in forming a glamorized drug culture among teens. For years, the media has been – whether inadvertently or not – grooming young people for drug dependence. Movies and television shows often neglect to shed light upon the grim effects of long term addiction, showcasing only the “fun” side of drug use. Teens at parties taking drugs they’ve never heard of, abusing prescription medicine, and alcoholism simply used as a punchline, are common occurrences in the multitude of movies we watch. Musicians, especially rappers, model drug use as a part of their “brand”, or “style”. In music culture, drug use is very widely accepted and encourages teens to do the same. Perhaps the young stars falling prey to addiction followed in the footsteps of the stars before and around them. This is how drug use culture becomes normalized.
High school students are now forced to ponder the inevitable future they may face if they begin drug dependency early – a shortened lifespan. Substance abuse ends lives full of promise. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, over 72,000 deaths by overdose were reported. These recent celebrity tragedies bring about the knowledge to young people that they are not, in fact, invincible, and are at risk of the same fate. However, drug use continues to pollute the media. As a school, efforts have been made to educate our students on the perils of addiction, but for young adults like Lil Peep – it is simply too late. Had he been educated on the perils of early drug addiction, would he still be alive today? In the future, should movies and television begin making an effort to lessen the glamorization of drug use?