The mainstream media tends to issue more news about illegal drugs than alcohol. Stories about illegal drugs are also more negative and the media are more likely to present them as dangerous, morally destructive and associated with violent behavior and drug users as irresponsible and degenerate people.
In fact, the media are more likely to link illegal drugs to violent crime, sexual assault and homicide than alcohol. All this despite a study finding that 47% of homicides in Australia over a period of six years were related to alcohol.
The coverage of the recent Rainbow Serpent music festival in Australia is an example of how the media relates illegal drug use to violence. There were alleged physical and sexual assaults during the festival, which took place over five days, including Australia’s national day.
However, the truth is that there was not as much violence or sexual assault as would be expected in relation to alcohol in such a large concentration of people during Australia’s national day.
Given that media information plays an important role the opinions that people form, this could make people believe that illegal drugs are more likely to lead to violence than alcohol. This is due to a cognitive tendency or “mental shortcut” known as the heuristic of availability that leads people to form opinions based on the most recent information they receive.
What do data tell us about the likelihood that alcohol or other drugs will end in violence? Are there drugs that are worse? Continue reading “Alcohol incites more violence than other drugs, but it will not come out on the news”