New Opioid Awareness Ads Pull No Punches
In response to the opioid epidemic, communities around the country are launching new awareness campaigns that depict the devastating impact of teenage overdoses from prescription painkillers. The ads are directed specifically at the family and friends of potential victims, rather than those who misuse or abuse the medicines. Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wisconsin have all begun similar “Dose of Reality” campaigns. In St. Louis, Missouri, the National Council of Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NCADA) took advantage of the popularity of the Super Bowl to launch its own ads.
Notable about both the Dose of Reality and Super Bowl ads is the intention to shock audiences. One Dose of Reality ad features a woman trying to wake an unconscious young man, pill bottle in the background, while crying frantically. The Super Bowl ads take a bait-and-switch approach, appearing to be about the dangers of gun safety or texting while driving, but shifting quickly to opioid overdoses as the more likely danger. Research shows that painkillers taken from medicine cabinets result in more incidents of harm than gun and car accidents precisely because people do not recognize the danger these medications can present.
“None of us would leave a loaded handgun sitting on a counter of our home with teenagers coming in and out of the house,” said Brad Schimel, Wisconsin’s attorney general. “But how many people think about what is in their medicine cabinet?”
Howard Weissman, NCADA’s executive, referred to the jarring Super Bowl campaign as necessary but just the beginning to addressing the opioid epidemic. “Once it takes root, addiction is a chronic but treatable brain disease that has a whole host of terrible outcomes. We at NCADA believe that the way forward must involve a greater emphasis on prevention.”
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