In the 1980s, it seems like you couldn’t turn on the television or read a newspaper or magazine without hearing or seeing some mention of crack cocaine. (For you younger readers, a newspaper is a collection of news items printed on paper and distributed on a set schedule.)
In those days, the message the media loved to proclaim was that crack cocaine was a true menace to society, that legions of crack mothers were having crack babies, and that crack cocaine was going to be the downfall of the American way of life.
Fast forward a few decades, and you don’t hear about crack so much anymore. Sure, Whitney Houston trumpeted that “Crack is whack!” in 2002. And video footage captured Rob Ford, the colorful and controversial late mayor of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, using crack in the 2010s.
But compared to the 1980s, crack cocaine is barely mentioned. These days, you hear more in the media about heroin and related drugs known as opioids. Media outlets should be talking about such drugs, since many areas of the country are experiencing horrible increases of people abusing the drugs and suffering the awful consequences.
But maybe the media should also still be reporting on crack cocaine and other drugs as well. People still abuse that drug and others. This abuse can ruin their lives and even kill them. Maybe the media can acknowledge that there is a whole lot of bad stuff out there.
This coverage should be balanced, of course. There were never the huge amounts of crack babies the media projected, but there were—and importantly, still are—babies born addicted to drugs or suffering the effects of their parents’ drug use. Using some actual statistics, the media could clearly depict the consequences of drug abuse.
Even more importantly, maybe media outlets can talk about treatment. If each story had a sentence or two about how rehab centers and treatment programs in Texas can help treat addiction, maybe the stories could lead people to finding help.
Maybe this kind of reporting could better serve the American people. After all, it won’t be drugs that destroy the American way of life. It’ll be reality television. (Just kidding. Slightly.)