The marketing world would like us to think it plays a responsible role in addiction and awareness, however, the truth about marketing is apparent anywhere ad space is sold. Marketers secretly want addicts to remain addicts, because it means they will be consumers for life. Marketers that advertise addictive substances or activities for sale appreciate the business that addicts give them and they are hoping addicts will respond to the ads they create with business. The more severe the addiction, the higher the level of consumerism, because the best consumer is an addict.
This trend of capitalizing on people’s addiction tendencies is a trademark of capitalism. Ever since the 1800’s, private businesses have been falsely marketing their products as the best on the market, life changing and without any side effects. In a free market, people are allowed to stretch the truth in their advertising to beat out the competition. This is a destructive tactic, especially for those who are struggling desperately with addiction. There are already many triggers and opportunities to relapse that addicts encounter even without advertising encouraging them to indulge in their addiction.
Advertisements for an addictive substance or activity work in opposition to addiction treatment and recovery. Where a treatment program or recovery mantra tells an addict to remember the grim reality of where their addiction puts them, an ad for the substance or activity coaxes its audience, telling them to go ahead and forget about the consequences and let go of their self control. This can lead an addict directly into relapse and undo months of time and effort they have invested into their recovery.
Advertising itself is not evil. Advertising serves a necessary purpose to our lives in a consumer culture. However, there is an enormous difference between ethical and unethical advertising. If a product is worthwhile, an advertisement can represent it truthfully and it will still be profitable. Honest advertising would largely reduce the problem of addiction, because it would help people avoid becoming addicted to the idea of a substance or activity rather than the reality of it.