What SHOULD anti-drug ads say? Or should they not even exist?

So I was on Cafe Society, reading the umpteenth thread about how dumb the Truth, and other anti-drug/tobacco ads, are. Not that I disagree, but I wonder: if these ads were to do what they set out to do, what do you think they should say? Should they focus on the danger of procuring drugs while they’re illegal? Straight out health effects (which is actually done, but a big reason why many are called on the carpet in such threads in the first place)? The monetary cost?

Or do you think they shouldn’t be running at all? Should we be telling kids that certain drugs don’t do all that much harm if done in moderation, and that they’re free to try 'em under strict parental supervision? Or the same thing, but wait 'til you’re 18 and just be careful? Or whatever? (All that stuff was just off the top of my head.)

Whaddya think?

If they’re gonna run at all, then they should be scrupulously honest, e.g. out of every 100 people who try heroin X don’t get addicted, Y die from it, Z never really have any problems with it, and so on and so forth. The numbers should be presented intuitively and honestly. Rather than advocacy, they should be intended to inform.

I think they should legalize the stuff, but until they do they should focus on the legal penalties of using them. When you’re a kid you could care less what stuff does to you, because you’re immortal and nothing hurts you (remember those days?), but getting busted and facing your parents was always the worst thing that could happen.

So tell kids that they’ll go to the pokey and make it clear that their parents won’t be happy when they come to collect the wayward child.

That’s what I’d do, anyway.

I work for an ad agency who is developing an anti-drunk driving campaign for the state government, so while not exactly identical some of the same principles apply.

First off - unfortunately, no matter what negative consequences you put forth, 99% of the people won’t think it applies to them. They’re the exception, so to speak. Whether it’s health/death, legal/jail, social/humiliation etc, until one of the above actually happens to the person, they don’t believe it will happen to them. And to be honest, it won’t actually happen to them. Most drunk drivers don’t get caught, or don’t die in an accident. Same with people taking drugs.

That being said, the one apparent thing about drunk drivers (and for the sake of argument I’ll throw drug users in the same mix) is that anything to do with social pressures, peer pressures, how your actions will affect the people you love, etc…DON’T DO JACK. The only thing that may alter their decisions is What Will Happen to Me.

The other thing we’ve noticed is that Death is too amorphous to matter. Jail is real. Serious Injury is real. Death isn’t.

So to answer your OP - there isn’t really a good answer. As I mentioned earlier, the things that apparently would affect choices - getting caught or getting injured - in reality really don’t happen that often. Basically, until you’ve experienced it you won’t believe it.

They would have to be honest and without any preconcieved agenda. But that would negate their entire purpose.

Secondly, they should not portray drugs as pure, irredeemable evil as this probably just drives more people to take them for thrills.

If it were up to me the ads would talk about the real risks of drug use, and how to minimize or control them and it would use examples of people who misused drugs and what they could have done to use them more safely. Too bad that will never happen.

I agree. All these ads do is tell kids they have a NEW way to rebel against authority. “You’ve heard how dangerous smoking/drugs are, yet I’m doing them anyway! I’m cool!”

And portraying drugs as “evil” is just stupid, and insulting to the intelligence of even junior high kids. Any kid can think for himself enough to know that his best friend who smoked one joint is not “evil” for doing so.

I can’t see drugs ever being legalized, since so many people have a stake in keeping them taboo. Politicians, since it gives them a scary issue they can pound the rostrum on. Police and prison workers’ unions, since so many collars are made on minor drug offenses. Fewer arrests to be made = lowered need for cops/prisons = fewer jobs in those fields = less union power.

Honestly, I just don’t think that any drug ads are likely to be very effective. Either you end up inadvertently romanticizing drug use to a low risk population, or getting riduculed by those who are already users or likely to become so. I’ve yet to see any data that documents any effectiveness of drug ads and have seen some that shows that they’ve had the opposite effect in low risk populations.

So no anti-drug ads, and put the money into inspecting for sale of cigs to minors, to giving more resources to other non-drug activities … school music and drama programming etc …

My only comment is that the anti-drug ads should shut up about marijuana, since there don’t seem to be any intelligent arguments against marijuana use, and the bogusness (if that’s a word) of the anti-pot ads completely undermines the credibility of anti-drug campaigns in general.

Here, here, RT.
I worked a bit on a tour of a documentary about heroin abuse in my state; we showed the film, then had people who were in the film sit on a pannel and talk with people afterwards. It was great, and we got a lot of good feedback from current adicts, recovering addicts, people who had never tried it, family members of adicts, really everyone. I think the key was the honesty with which it dealt with the issue, and the unscripted and personal nature of both the film and the discussion afterwards.

TV ads are, IMO, an ineffectual way to reach anyone regarding anything serious. 30 seconds is too short a time to convince anyone of anything. If communities chose to deal with drug abuse on an immediate and local level, perhaps some progress might be made.

I agree that the ads have no bussiness going solely after pot, especially for things like driving accidents, rapes, etc., when alcohol is the associated drug in the overwhelming number of those situations.

Kids appreciate honesty. Things on Tv, even message ads, are pretty much fantasy to them, which is both a good thing and bad thing.

They should show the hundreds of Taiwaneese drug dealers being disposed of by the gov’t. That would scare the shit out of them.

I think Moe means Thai.

Actually I think those types of campaigns are just stupid. They seem to say, “Don’t use marijuana…because you could get busted…because it’s so bad that you’ll get busted for using it…so don’t use mariuana…”.

At least in the realm of anti-tobacco propaganda I’ve seen one commercial that doesn’t make me roll my eyes. I think the ones where they show smokers giving all the reasons they don’t want to quit, then cancer patients responding with far worse thing that could happen if they don’t, is quite effective even if a little melodramatic. It doesn’t insult the smokers, nor does it preach at them.

I agree ** Javaman ** the circular logic of the marijuana hurts my brain too. I think any anti-drug campaigns should be very trueful as too the effects of drugs, and the consequences of using these drugs, i.e. show some potheads acting stupid or being really lazy or show the effects of a herion overdose. But don’t overdramtises the effects or the ads will just be laughed at like they are now.

Or show the potheads who do great stuff like, if the rumors are true, Carl Sagan. (There’s a thread around here somewhere about that.) If they are going to be put on by a gov’t. agency, then they should be scrupulously honest. That means not lying by omission.

I’m in a minority opinion around here, but when it comes to appealing to its target demographic, I think the Truth ads have the potential to be very effective. We know that long-term effects of smoking aren’t enough to deter most teenagers from it, and many are resistant to the short-term effects. But by demonstrating that many people in authority want them to smoke, and that those people are relying on their lack of intelligence or sophistication to get them to do so. When you make not smoking look subversive, teenagers are more likely to listen.

Anti-drug commercials are harder to make along this model, since the industry that wants teenagers to start using drugs lurks in the shadows. Tobacco executives could be their parents or grandparents; drug dealers and cartel kingpins could not.

I agree that demonization of marijuana does more harm than good; kids see a lot of pot use, and they can see that it doesn’t cause the rain of hellfire and destruction that the commercials say it does, so heroin must not be as bad as they say, either.

One avenue I’d explore is how much money it costs to maintain a drug habit. Since you’re aiming at kids a few years before the age where they’ll engage in the behaviors you’d like to stop, and since amounts of money seem smaller as one gets older, this could have a lasting effect on a kid. (Of course, when you point out how much cheaper it would be to smoke pot regularly than to use crack or heroin, it may drive them to smoke pot instead, which I think would be an OK goal but most would not.)

All in all, I think it is nigh impossible to make good PSAs against “drugs” as a whole, because different drugs have very different reasons why you shouldn’t use them. Dividing and conquering would be far more effective.

Dr. J

I think the best anti-drug messgage came from (gasp!) * South Park. * “No, smoking pot won’t kill you or turn you into a terrorist, but it makes you feel okay about doing nothing.” Which is pretty true . . . if you’re a lazy person to begin with, being stoned helps remove those guilty feelings of, “Man, I should be doing something right now.”

I think that ** Airman Doors, USAF ** has a good point: the most effective anti-drug messages would be to capitalize on the legal and parental repercussions. “You’ll be ineligible for a student loan if you get caught,” or “Man, will your mom be PISSED!” is a lot more effective than “You’ll rape your girlfriend and run over little girls.” The threat is more realistic and immediate.

I’d rather see the NDCP wasting their money on ineffective ads than busting college kids, to be honest. (Though funding will never be a problem for them, I’d imagine.) The only “positive” outcome of the so-called War on Drugs is as ** Lizard ** says: it gives politicians the aura of being “tough on crime.” It gives frightened soccer moms a reason to vote for them, and it also gives politicians a way to distract people from real problems by blaming everything on drugs and the scary people who use them.

“Please shoot up responsibly.”

It’s very easy to point to some tragic case where some kid OD’d on heroin or crack. This is called “knee-jerking”, and it’s a tendency I dislike. I wouldn’t mind an ad advocating people to be really careful with needles (I hate needles, by the way, and would never take a drug that required them). But this whole thing about “Smoking pot is like drowning” (or was that ad referring to glue sniffing?) is no-brain baloney.

I was going to say exactly what SPOOFE said - you’re going to get much better value for money running ads that are encouraging people to dispose of needles safely, to not share needles, to make sure there’s someone around who can look after you if you get into trouble and not to be afraid to call emergency if someone you know gets into trouble.

These are useful messages, and people are much more likely to listen to them than vague anti-drug propaganda.

I think they should avoid polarizing the issue. Don’t make drug use be the issue which makes you a bad person. I distinctly remember there was a time in my life where I was coming down off a high and was upset that I was using drugs and was hence a loser, but because I was a loser, fuck it, I might as well use drugs. Thankfully there was no addiction involved or that would have been a devestating cycle.

Drug ads are largely liars, and given the spread of drug use, most people know it. What should they say? I’ve got nothing because I don’t think they should be there at all.

Maybe they should just document people on drugs saying really stupid shit. Some people that might turn away… dunno.