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Drugs, Social Media, and Andrew Cuomo: How One Governor is Trying to Prevent the Worst

Prescription Bottles Top View CloseupGovernor Andrew Cuomo has just launched a statewide campaign to help fight addiction across New York State. Dubbed #CombatAddiction, the campaign uses many different media outlets to urge New Yorkers to join the fight against addiction.

There were five new public service announcements launched, each emphasizing the effects of addiction. The campaign also gives New Yorkers the ability to reach out to a support group via social media, print ads, and a toll-free line open 24 hours a day that will connect you to a drug counslor.

Why has Cuomo gone to these lengths? The National Survey on Drug Use and Health states that 1.4 million New York residents suffer from a substance abuse disorder every year. Worse, more than 47,000 people died nationwide in 2014 alone due to drug overdoses.

“Addiction knows no bounds, and it’s devastating effects can be felt in every community across the state, but we must stand together to combat this disease and to build a stronger, healthier New York for all,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo to News10.com.

However, using social media as a tactic to stop drug addiction may backfire due to the multiple different viewpoints that can be found on Facebook pages and Instagram posts.

In fact, fashion designer Moschino is coming under fire because of the heavy drug references in their Spring 2017 collection, which was shown recently at Paris Fashion Week. The brand’s creative director, Jeremy Scott, printed cartoon-esque pills and blister packs on everything from iPhone cases to sweaters to backpacks.

Thousands of enraged social media users are calling Scott out for romanticizing and glamorizing drug use, as these designs can potentially encourage people — especially younger generations who follow the brand — to view pills as an accessory.

Recovering drug addict Randy Anderson is especially outraged with Moschino for promoting these messages to their consumers. Anderson, who currently works as an alcohol and drug counselor, believes that these pill-box items “will most likely promote more drug use.”

In his online petition for the brand to stop selling the line, Anderson asked,
“Do you have any idea of the message your company is sending to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to a drug overdose?”

Brand representatives nor Scott have yet to respond publicly to the backlash. However, Scott did tell reporters during the Paris Fashion Week that people should say no to drugs. “Just say ‘Moschino’!,” he said. “I always say, fashion is the only drug I do.”

Not only are these photos circulating around different newspaper outlets, they are all over social media. The problem with this is that social media has an incredible impact on those who use it. In total, social media and blog websites reach a whopping 80% of all American Internet users, and account for 23% of all time spent online.

And more often than not, these negative effects are happening far too often to young teenage girls. A report by the Pew Research Center in 2015 found that 92% of surveyed American teenagers admitted to going online daily, with 24% explaining that they are online almost constantly.

But, not all interactions on social media are positive. With social media becoming incredibly competitive, teenagers in particular have become more and more prone to bullying and caving into peer pressure. This includes partaking in illegal drug use — exactly what Andrew Cuomo is trying to prevent.

Sadly, since these social media trends are becoming harder to prevent, we watch and we will wait.