The study, led by Brian A. Primack, MD, EdM, examined 279 of the year's most popular songs according to Billboard magazine. The study also found that allusions to substance use varied widely by genre.
The analysis found that rap music led the way with 77 percent of songs referring to substance use, followed by country at 37 percent and R&B/hip-hop at 20 percent. Rock and pop were low at 14 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
Substance use was commonly associated with partying, sex, violence and/or humour, and was most often motivated by peer/social pressure, sex, and/or money (for instance, through trafficking). Alcohol and marijuana were the substances most frequently portrayed in the songs. The majority of songs with substance use portrayed more positive than negative consequences of use.
"Previous research has shown that exposure to substance use messages in media is linked to actual substance use in adolescents," said Primack. "That is why we need to be aware of exposures such as these, especially when they are associated with highly positive consequences and associations," he added.