American Academy Pediatrics Publication a Critique a Essay

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American Academy Pediatrics publication a critique a media portrayal substance, links made AAP statement material. The password EBook: apusstudent I uploaded rest material.

American Academy of Pediatrics' Policy Statement concerning media portrayal of substance abuse touches upon several important issues that arise along with the media products' influence on America's young population at large. The article's targeted list of open-access channels associated with messages of noxious substance use include advertisements, television shows, motion pictures, social websites and music. Attention is directed specifically towards the findings of broadly conducted research in the matter of harm inflicted on children and adolescents as a result of the entertainment industry's depictions of legal and illegal substances, such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and heroin. Based on these findings, Pediatrics proposes a set of familial, institutional and legislative measures designed to minimize or abolish the destructive influence that media effects on a child's and teenager's development (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010).

The present paper's aim is to analyze a specific example of media portrayal of substance use, confront all findings with background information on the substances at hand, draw conclusions based on how the substances are being used and what the message associated with them is, connect the example with the Pediatrics Policy Statement assertions, and lastly reflect on the recommendations proposed in the article. For this purpose, the chosen object of analysis is the 1996 motion picture Trainspotting, which depicts a wide array of substances and their convergence with life of five Scottish boys.

The internationally acclaimed motion picture Trainspotting is R-rated and employs a storyline focused on the use of a wide spectrum of illicit drugs, the most notable of these being narcotics and amphetamines. In addition, the movie contains a proliferation of instances where socially condoned substances such as alcohol and tobacco are used by most characters.

In regard to the effects of opiates usage, scenes from the movie related to this subject form the following conclusions. Interestingly, this movie clearly illustrates the variables which condition acute effects of heroin usage (Levinthal, 2012). Firstly, the quality and purity of the substance together with the consumer's degree of tolerance are prerequisites for the scene of the protagonist's overdose. Secondly, the intervals between shots vary as the characters altogether attempt and fail to relinquish the heroin consumption. Moreover, opiate's route of administration also varies, as the main character first injects heroin, and then makes use of rectal opium suppositories (Macdonald & Boyle, 1996).

Whereas the acute sensations associated with the injection of heroin are portrayed as pleasant, the ensuing addiction seemingly causes constipation, lowers sex drive, and on a psychological note renders the user indifferent, depressed, and dehumanized. It would be relevant to point out that, according to Drugs, Behavior and Modern Society, opiates produce a temporary euphoria akin to the magnitude of a sexual orgasm, immediately followed by drowsiness and low sex drive (Levinthal, 2012). This sequence is accurately embodied in the scenes portraying heroin shooting sessions. What is more, the reported diminution of testosterone levels and slowing down of the metabolism (Levinthal, 2012) are explicitly conveyed in the scenes where Mark Renton, the protagonist, expresses that he has had trouble defecating, and later, that his sex drive has returned in a matter of hours after he stopped using heroin (Macdonald & Boyle, 1996). Consequently, the movie is sincere and accurate in portraying both the positive and negative physiological effects of heroin consumption.

In addition, Trainspotting provides a detailed ongoing account of increased tolerance to heroin, accidental substance overdose, and the effects of detoxification seclusion. Generally acknowledged signs of withdrawal also pictured in the movie include the first signs of diarrhea as opposed to heroin-induced constipation and reaching for a different fix (Levinthal, 2012) as Renton seeks out alternate substances only hours after quitting injected heroin. In contrast with the euphoria, relaxation and analgesia which the character feels when under the influence, the seclusion scene, as part of abruptly imposed withdrawal, portrays nightmarish hallucinations and painful sensations derived from anxiety, irritability, muscle spasm, restlessness and insomnia. It is also visible that the mechanism which propels the protagonist's endeavors to obtain substance relief is grounded in the distress generated by heroin depravation, accompanied by a sincere craving for its enjoyable sensations inflicted on the human body and mind (Levinthal, 2012).

Another point can be made that, as a consequence of heroin withdrawal, and due to the recorded resemblance to methadone detoxification process outcomes, the abuser replaces the need for opiates with intake of alcohol (Levinthal, 2012) -- and Mark behaves accordingly. Furthermore, the movie plot underlines the acknowledged risk of HIV contamination as a result of the unsanitary sharing of the same needle in the shooting sessions. In this sense, the main character eludes AIDS whereas one of his friends tests HIV positive and ensuing an unforeseen complication, dies in a matter of months (Macdonald & Boyle, 1996). Thus, it can be asserted that the motion picture presents the manifold health implications of heroin abuse in a realistic fashion.

Use of stimulant substances is also portrayed in Trainspotting. The scene where character Spud attends a job interview while under the influence of amphetamines is thoroughly depictive of the substance's acute effects. Spud is energetic and frankly nonsensical in his speeches, as he experiences a mixed sensation of euphoria and invincibility with absolutely no regard to the consequences of his answers. This particular episode accurately sums up the immediate effects of amphetamine as described by Levinthal (2012), yet in this light the movie as a whole presents the drawback of failing to capitalize on any of the long-term physical and psychological effects of chronic amphetamine abuse.

Notwithstanding the motion picture's largely well chosen depictions of illicit drugs consumption and the way it takes its toll on a youngster's health, a critical analysis of the background legal substances which are freely displayed as the plot unfolds reveals disquieting facts. The five boys from Edinburgh are presented as heavy drinkers and heavy smokers, and, with the exception of one alcohol-related incident, no reference is made regarding noxious effects of tobacco smoking or alcohol drinking. As the movie has it, the only instance where alcohol produces a slight health problem is the scene where character Spud wakes up after a night of heavy drinking in his girlfriend's bed only to find that he had involuntarily defecated during sleeping (Macdonald & Boyle, 1996). However, this queer incident does little in the sense of portraying alcohol's threat to health translated in acute or long-term destructive effects. Furthermore, although cigarette smoking is ever-present in most of the movie's scenes, no information is conveyed about the harmful habit's potential to further translate in cardiovascular and respiratory deficits or in cancer (Levinthal, 2012).

A set of observations can be made when connecting the Trainspotting box-office phenomenon with the assertions concerning substance portrayal in movies derived from the Pediatrics Policy Statement.

First of all, it is safe to state that the motion picture pertains to the 90% of top R-rated movies from a time span reaching from 1996 to 2004 which depicts tobacco smoking (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010). According to the same article, movie studios tend to endorse the image of cigarette smoking to fit the instance of struggling, conflictual and rebel characters, which greatly appeal to the adolescent public. In this respect, one may concur with the article's findings because Mark Renton is a fine example of a protagonist antihero who struggles against society's constraints.

Secondly, free-range alcohol portrayal is depicted as a normal ongoing habit in the movie, especially in the group formed by the five adolescent friends, and this particularity confirms the Policy Statement's theory that the majority of popular R-rated motion pictures abound in a depiction of alcohol consumption as common behavior among adolescents (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010).

On the other hand, Trainspotting's main focus on the story of illicit substance abuse, namely narcotics and stimulants, unfolds with a certain note of humor. The comedic is visible in Spud's altered state during the job interview scene, when the character answers employers' inquiries with a superfluous nonchalance as a result of amphetamine intake, or in the scene where Spud wakes up to find that he had, without knowing, befouled his girlfriend's sheets because he drank too much and lost control of his sphincters (Macdonald & Boyle, 1996). From this perspective, the article is justified in claiming that movie makers are oblivious to the undermining effects that humor has on the potency of the awareness of negative aspects derived from substance use, in the teenager public's eyes (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010).

Concerning the motion picture's conveyed messages and influence, several conclusions surface. The Pediatrics article contends that the most prevalent factor for adolescent substance use is an exposure to peers who use toxic substances (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010). In this sense, Trainspotting clearly commands a vicious, interdependent friendship between five boys all throughout the story, and may in all likelihood have a negative influence on the child…

Sources Used in Document:


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2010, October). Policy Statement -- Children, Adolescents, Substance Abuse and the Media. Pediatrics, Vol. 126, No. 4, pp. 791-799.

Levinthal, C.F. (2012). Drugs, Behavior, and Modern Society, Seventh Edition. New York: Allyn & Bacon.

Macdonald, A. (Producer), & Boyle, D. (Director). (1996). Trainspotting [Motion picture]. United Kingdom: Channel Four Films.

Roberts, D.F. et al. (1999). Substance Use in Popular Movies and Music. Office of National Drug Control Policy, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (U.S.). Retrieved from

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