Labeled “Generation Rx,” more and more teens are turning to their parents’ medicine cabinets and prescription pill dealers to get high. In response to the growing epidemic, the Mass. Dept. of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services turned to us to help create awareness about this prescription drug abuse crisis.
Strategically, we knew we had to do a couple of key things right. For starters, we needed to empower teens to choose not to abuse prescription drugs for themselves. And most importantly, we needed to show consequences of abuse that were realistic to teens in order to have a significant impact on this audience.
After finding that the majority of teens believe using prescription drugs to get high is much safer than using street drugs, we knew education on the dangers was critical. We also knew it was critical that the message be delivered by credible spokespersons. So, we set out to find teens who had experienced first-hand the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse.
Our search found two young prescription addicts on the road to recovery. One of them is facing 20 years in federal prison for dealing in order to fund his OxyContin addiction. The other came with his mother, who offered a dramatic testimonial to the devastation caused by prescription drugs among users’ families. Their stories were used throughout the integrated media campaign (radio and print) to shed light on the realities and consequences of abusing prescription drugs.
Calls to the helpline requesting information and treatment resources increased by more than 30%, enabling the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services to better serve those communities affected by this epidemic.
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