What Are the Effects of Alcohol Advertising?

If you have watched television in the last couple of months, you have most likely come across several commercials promoting some kind of alcohol, whether it be beer, wine, or hard liquor. In the United States and other countries worldwide, commercials promoting alcohol are ubiquitous to see across the screens. Today, you can even expect to see alcohol advertisements on your smartphone as you scroll on various social media websites. With exposure to alcohol being put in a positive light, what are the effects on those more susceptible to these commercials? How do those in recovery cope with seeing these advertisements frequently? 

Do Alcohol Advertisements Cause People to Drink More?

One of the most common discussions that come up when alcohol advertisements are being discussed is that these commercials can make people drink more. However, this is often based on assumptions with no scientific data to prove the information. Studies done have proven this theory, but only on specific age groups. 

According to a study published by the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, younger adolescents are more susceptible to alcohol advertisements shown on TV than older age groups. This population is more likely to take away a positive reaction to alcohol because of the ads, predicting future alcohol use. Some youth are influenced to drink more, leading to excessive drinking and other consequences related to being exposed to these ads at a young age.

Many alcohol companies have implemented guidelines to stop the exposure of their ads to younger age groups. Often this means not running their ads on programs or channels that have at least 30% underage viewership. However, this can be tricky. It does not mean that some youth will not be exposed to the commercials. According to the American Addiction Centers, as kids get older, they are more likely to be exposed to “mature” content. This means they are more likely to see the advertisements while they are still underage, leading to harmful effects in the population’s future associated with drinking, alcohol abuse, and even alcoholism.

The Impact on Those in Recovery

If you are of age to drink alcohol but are currently in recovery from an alcohol use disorder (AUD), you have most likely experienced several alcohol advertisements. This can be problematic to your recovery as it can induce cravings and urges to consume alcohol, especially since it is shown in a positive light in these commercials. These commercials can be triggering, but it can be challenging to avoid them when watching television or movies. 

Coping Strategies

It is essential to know your triggers and have some coping strategies on hand in case you come across them to protect yourself and your recovery. If seeing alcohol in an advertisement serves as a trigger for you, have in mind some coping strategies you can engage in to keep your cravings under control. You can learn coping strategies through a treatment center, support group, or recovery circle. Don’t hesitate to call anyone for help in these times of need. 

Coping strategies can include turning off the commercial and walking away, deep breathing exercises, calling a friend, and more. They are about what works for you to help you maintain your recovery. Coping strategies are especially crucial in early recovery when you are more at risk of relapse. 

Examples of coping strategies you could use include:

  • Utilizing positive distractions
  • Changing your perspective
  • Being around positive individuals
  • Going to therapy
  • Taking a rest
  • Drinking water
  • Eating a meal
  • Exercising

Hiding Certain Ads on Social Media

While you can’t monitor the ads that come across your TV or what you see in movies all the time, you can take steps to limit your exposure to alcohol ads on certain social media apps. By going into the settings, you can choose the content you see in advertisements. You can do this by selecting the types of ad topics you do not want to see and select the duration of time to hide them for, often six months, one year, or permanently. This way, you can control your social media experience and suppress potentially triggering ads that may put your recovery at risk. Remember, your number one priority should always be your recovery!


In today’s world of technology, you are bound to see some form of alcohol advertising on your television screen or your phone. With the acceptance of alcohol in today’s society, it can be difficult for those going through recovery to avoid the potentially triggering ads that frame alcohol in a positive light. Understanding the way these ads affect you personally can make all the difference in maintaining your recovery. If you know they may trigger you, have some coping strategies on hand that you can engage in to prevent relapse. You can also take steps to hide certain advertisements on your social media apps to ensure you are not exposed to ads promoting alcohol. At Northstar Transitions, we want to empower our clients to navigate real-life recovery. We know it isn’t realistic to expect you never to see an alcohol ad again, so we want to prepare you for when it happens. Our dedicated treatment team helps you develop critical life skills to build confidence, resilience, and independence as self-sustaining, healthy individuals. To learn more about the impact of ads on recovery and how you can protect yourself and your recovery, call us today at (303) 558-6400.


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