New campaign aimed at reducing opioid use among young adults

June 12, 2018

The federal government is partnering with the Ad Council and the Truth Initiative to launch a new public awareness campaign aimed at preventing young adults, ages 18-24, from misusing or abusing opioids. Envisioned as the first in a long-term education campaign, the initial four ads attempt to dispel misconceptions about opioid addiction and reduce stigma by presenting stories that are relatable and demonstrate how quickly opioid addiction can occur.

According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, more Americans died from opioid overdoses than vehicle crashes, gun violence, or breast cancer.  More than two-thirds of people in treatment for prescription opioids reported first using them before they were 25 years old.

The Ad Council and the Truth Initiative noted the ads and their planned release are based on research, evaluation, and expert input. The organizations stated that the final ads reflect the most engaging of approximately 150 tested messages, and several key youth-oriented channels are donating airtime. However, some media experts have questioned whether the approach will be effective, noting that campaigns that attempt to scare viewers are not as effective as those that help viewers “switch from a short-term to a long-term mindset.”

To view all four ads and learn more about the campaign to combat the opioid epidemic, visit the new campaign website Additionally, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has also released a factsheet, toolkit, brochure, and discussion guide for stakeholders.

CSG-ERC continues to follow and provide updates on this critical public health issue. And given the impact that the opioid epidemic is having on member states and their constituents, CSG-ERC and the Justice Center will join forces at the upcoming annual CSG-ERC meeting for an expert panel to delve deeper into this issue. Panelists will provide an update and discuss the latest responses from both a public health and a criminal justice perspective to this emergency.

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