Mainstream media reporting is far more likely to deter young people from using illicit drugs than encourage their use, a new Australian study has found.
But the research also found that more needs to be done as the types of reports most likely to have the strongest impact âˆ’ those on social and health consequences of drug taking âˆ’ were underrepresented in the media.
The study by the Drug Policy Modelling Program at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW, and funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, measured the impact of media reports on illicit drugs on the attitudes of more than 2,000 young people aged 16-24.
"It is commonly assumed that news media can incite drug use," said Dr Caitlin Hughes, the study's Chief Investigator and NDARC Research Fellow.
"Our research has found that the opposite is the case. Most media portrayals appear to reduce interest in illicit drugs, at least in the short term. They increase perceptions of risk, reduce perceptions of acceptability and reduce the reported likelihood of future drug use.
"But the irony is that the messages that are most effective at deterring youth interest in drugs are currently under-represented in Australian news media," said Dr Hughes.
Read the full media release here.
Media contact: Marion Downey | 9385 0180 | 0401 713 850