Telling Stories that Explain: Comparing Media and Organizational Discourse on Adolescent Substance Use

May 3, 2022

This report is part of the FrameWorks Institute’s larger, multi-method project to design and test framing strategies aimed at improving public understanding of adolescent substance use. Drawing on prior research related to the public’s limited understanding of adolescent substance use, the report describes how media and advocacy groups shape public perception on this issue. To better understand and address the gaps, nearly 300 organizational and media materials were analyzed between January 2014 and January 2016. Researchers identified trends in the organizational and media content including gaps in information related to causes and effects of adolescent substance use, conflicting messaging, and the misrepresentation of adolescent substance use as an individual problem rather than a public issue. The report includes initial recommendations to assist experts and advocates in more effectively communicating about the importance of prevention, early intervention, and SBIRT.

Moira O’Neil, Andrew Volmert & Nat Kendall-Taylor, FrameWorks Institute