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Miley Cyrus: Model for Youthful Drug Use?

Miley Cyrus hosted this year’s MTV Video Music Awards wearing several outfits that made a bikini look like a winter coat. Let’s note that Miley Cyrus is 22. She’s an adult.

In 2013, Cyrus horrified Mika Brzezinski and other middle-class viewers with her sex-theme performance at the MTV Awards.

But this isn’t about Cyrus’s sexual persona – or her performance persona.

The Career Path

Before getting to what this post is about, let me review Cyrus’s career to date:

  • Her father is country-singing star Billy Ray Cyrus. As a preteen, Miley became a TV star in the kids television series Hannah Montana.
  • In 2007, at the age of 14, she released her first music album.
  • She has now had five number-one albums in the U.S., as well as continuing to act in television and film.

Her development seems to represent a career plan. It seems to be working, unlike the long list of failures and tragedies experienced by other former child stars. Perhaps having a father in the business helped prepare Cyrus for fame and media attention (although it hasn’t protected others, like Tatum O’Neal).

Cyrus described how her 2013 MTV Awards performance led to her hosting the most important music awards show in the world, a pretty good gig for a 22-year-old. She says she loves that earlier performance, although she says “that isn’t me now.”

How do you think back on the Video Music Awards in 2013?

Everything I’ve ever done has been true to me at that minute. Even down to my TV show [“Hannah Montana”] — when I started I was 12 years old, and that was like a dream to me. So that was my truth at that moment. . . .

My dad always explained it to me that you step into your happiness. That’s kind of like what I was doing. . . .

I knew who I was, and I knew the power that I held, but I don’t think I realized my full power until that show. I didn’t realize I could make such a big reaction. I didn’t think that many people would care. I knew I was famous, but I didn’t know what that meant. Everything was coming to an end and starting a new beginning.

Cyrus Miley is a person who feels and is utilizing her emerging power. Others can judge how she is expressing this power in the media. Reviews of her 2015 MTV Awards performance were low-key and modest compared with reactions to her 2013 excursion in that venue.

Meanwhile, she used the show to announce her new online streaming album, “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz,” in which the singer takes her personal and artistic freedom to a whole new level. At the end of the awards show, Cyrus shouted out the lyrics of the album’s opening song, “Dooo it; Yeah, I smoke pot/ Yeah, I love peace.”

Ms. Cyrus is her own woman now.

The Alter-Ego of Miley Cyrus

This post is actually about Cyrus’ drug persona. She smokes marijuana, and she speaks publicly about it. She finds weed less dangerous and damaging than alcohol. Cyrus also seemingly makes references to using molly and cocaine in her music.

I do want to commend Cyrus’s mindfulness and openness about drugs, since a lot of people take them, and that number is not decreasing overall. -Stanton PeeleI’m not here to defend or recommend Cyrus’s drug use or to suggest that anyone use drugs. [Disclosure: I rarely take drugs. I drink alcohol daily.] In terms of her performances, neither Cyrus’s costumes nor her music appeal to me.

But I do want to commend Cyrus’s mindfulness and openness about drugs, since a lot of people take them, and that number is not decreasing overall. Cyrus takes an alternative approach to endlessly lecturing people not to use drugs. Her model suggests that people be thoughtful drug users, consider alternatives, and be open about their drug use.

Successful Drug User?

Cyrus is a successful drug user. I can hear people saying, “Just wait.” We all remember child stars whose deaths involved drugs in one fashion or another.

Some well-known cases cases include:

  • River Phoenix died combining heroin and cocaine at the age of 23
  • Dana Plato died of an apparent suicide using tranquilizers at age 35
  • Corey Haim died at age 38 and his death involved physical illness and medications

Phoenix was dead within a year of Cyrus’s age; the other two are examples of people who did not successfully transition into adult careers and selves.

Cyrus doesn’t seem to be headed that way. She seems instead to have a career sense and a sense of herself and a regard for her health that these other youthful entertainers didn’t display.

As she has announced: People were like, “Well, she’s got some good people twisting the knobs to help her break out.” Now it’s been long enough where they’re like, “No one’s telling her what to do.” I’m not a chicken with my head cut off.

So should Cyrus be a role model for young people in an era of widespread use of recreational drugs and medications?

I think so.


The opinions presented in Pro Talk reside solely with the author, and do not necessarily represent those of or its employees. Pro Talk exists to elevate the discussion around substance abuse, behavioral addictions and related topics and we appreciate the efforts of our professional content contributors.

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