30 Days: Media's impact on the drug culture - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

30 Days: Media's impact on the drug culture

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According to Drugfree.org, West Virginia law enforcement officials are on track to seize more than 550 meth labs by the end of 2013. That's becoming a record number for the mountain state. According to Drugfree.org, West Virginia law enforcement officials are on track to seize more than 550 meth labs by the end of 2013. That's becoming a record number for the mountain state.
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MERCER COUNTY -

According to Drugfree.org, West Virginia law enforcement officials are on track to seize more than 550 meth labs by the end of 2013. That's becoming a record number for the mountain state.

One hit TV show is showing viewers just how easy it is too cook this stuff up. 59News Reporter Lauren Hensley speaks with a media expert to find out how the media can influence drug culture in her 30 Days to a Safer Neighborhood report.

The AMC underdog hit, "Breaking Bad" portrayals a high school chemistry professor who goes rouge after learning he has inoperable lung cancer. Walt uses his knowledge of chemicals to manufacture methamphetamine, turning to a life of crime and cashing in on the ludicrous drug market, all in order to secure his family's future. The grand series finale aired to 10.3 million viewers in late September. The show's mainstream success made the two main characters Walt and Jesse a popular costume for Halloween, right down to "rock candy" made to look like crystal meth.

Can this over the top portrayal of drug culture impact our society? We turned to Lindsey Akers a communications professor at Concord University for her opinion.

"I think the media has an agenda setting effect. they don't tell us WHAT to think but they tell us what to think about. So shows like this do just that. They tell us drugs are available they can be made easily like meth and you can make money easy, quick money," Lindsey Akers, Instructor of Communication Arts said.

And when viewers are only seeing the fast cash and flashy lifestyle Walt is living versus what it really looks like when a user takes meth, it is easy to ignore the consequences of drug abuse.

"There are some consequences we see on TV but what they don't realize is that you will get caught," Akers said. "You will not only harm yourself but you will also harm yourself and your community."

So what can be done? Akers said she would like to see more public service announcements about the realities of drug use. She also said West Virginia needs to focus on employment so folks don't get desperate and turn to a life of crime and finally parents need to actively monitor what their children are watching on TV.

Some of the chemicals used to make meth can be purchased over the counter and pharmacies are cracking down on how much on person can purchase.