‘Breaking Bad’ blamed for rising use of crystal meth in the UK

Leading academic says hit US TV show has glamourised use of the illegal drug

A leading academic has warned that the influence of Breaking Bad could be behind a rise in crystal meth use in Britain and Europe.

Statistics from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction show that attempts to smuggle the the drug into the UK have risen 400 per cent in the past year, while seizures of the drug have quadrupled. Meanwhile, in Germany, usage of the drug has risen 51 per cent.

Professor Ellis Cashmore, an author on celebrity and media culture from Staffordshire University, has argued that while not on purpose, the popularity of the hit TV series – which starred Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul – has played its part in these figures increasing.


“Although the show does not go out to glamourise the drug, its very inclusion promotes interest in that substance,” Cashmore told The Telegraph.

“The fact it is a central premise to almost the entire series would serve to boost this interest for people who perhaps had not encountered it before.

“We live in a hedonistic generation where people are seeking pleasure from various sources, and increasingly these are be found in the most illicit forms. Even if a TV show, like Breaking Bad, portrays drugs in a negative aspect and shows its most destructive side, it will still appeal to somebody.

“Showing the horrendous impact of crystal meth can have a boomerang effect and cause curiosity among some viewers who might think, ‘That must be good’.”

Cashmore summed up his argument by stating: “I’m not surprised following the success of Breaking Bad that we have news of a surge in the use of methamphetamine. The fact millions of people have watched the show and been entertained by it almost instantly glamourises its subject matter, whether deliberate or not.”

Home office figures show that around 17,000 people are believed to have used crystal meth in 2013 while border police intercepted the drug on 252 occasions last year, rising from the 61 seizures recorded in 2011/12.