In several instances, police in the USA have noticed an increase in the use of dangerous drugs after the death by overdose of a prominent person such as popular musician. Instead of being frightened by the potentially deadly effects of the particular drug or brand of drug that caused the person's death, users seek it out, clearly influenced by the behaviour of their role model.
A US survey (2001) of teens and preteens showed that those whose favorite actors smoke in films are more likely to take up the habit themselves. In addition, when their film favorites frequently smoked, young people were far more likely to look favorably on smoking, even if they did not smoke themselves.
Because drug addiction is most often an unwanted outcome of self-indulgent behaviour by the inexperienced, uninformed and impressionable, role models and those who influence public opinion and values have clear social responsibilities in discouraging substance abuse. Public personalities, be they athletes, actors, musicians or others, all have a special responsibility to keep their public lives above suspicion of drug use. Parents and parent groups are especially effective in preventing the use of drugs by children. Private businesses, including advertising companies, mass media and others, have unique capabilities for communicating accurate information about drug abuse in a credible way to large segments of the population.