Drugs This Week on Drugs
posted by September 14 at 15:07 PMon
Czar Struck: Yesterday the White House Drug Czar, John P. Walters, held a press conference in Seattle to trumpet a $10 million anti-meth ad campaign in Washington and seven other states.
Alongside Representatives Dave Reichert and Rick Larsen, Walters gave the impression that the campaign, which runs through March 2008, is based on messages of hope and the success of treatment. (That is the story over at the PI and Seattle Times.) Walters said we have “to put our arm around somebody to get them to treatment.” He drove home the point that rehab is effective: “The biggest single obstacle is people believing treatment doesn’t work.” Also, two-dozen framed black and white posters around the room and handouts in every press pack read, “Life After Meth,” each with a photo of a former addict and their tale of decline and recovery.
But Walters was elusive when pressed for the campaign’s content. He eventually said he didn’t know how much of the new campaign used content from the posters and handouts and how much was lifted from the Montana Meth Project—which saturated airwaves and ran copious print advertising, making it the leading advertiser in Montana in 2005 and 2006, but had questionable results. (A survey found Montana teens who believed that trying meth just once created “great” or “moderate” risk of getting hooked decreased from 95 to 92 percent, which is within the poll’s margin of error but shows no indication that the ads worked.)
Afterwards, I spoke to Mark Krawczyk, of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, who revealed that the “Life After Meth” images, despite being the only print ad examples provided to reporters, was “not part of the media buy.” The posters are just a touring display. But images and televisions ads from the Montana Meth Project, such as the one below, are in the media buy. The scare-tactic pieces are the ones in the national Meth Project’s gallery and the only ones we’ve seen in Washington thus far. Earlier this week, I wrote about why I think those ads are flawed.
Furthermore, the talk about treatment was lip service. The ONDCP isn’t allocating any additional money for treatment in the eight ad-campaign states. And Doug Allen, Director of Washington’s Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, said the state’s ability to provide treatment falls far short of demand. So while you can argue that scaring kids shitless with graphic images and abstinence-only messages might dissuade them from using meth – even though stats show that isn’t effective – it’s disingenuous to claim this campaign is one about treatment and recovery.
Club Drugs: Partying Brits get swabbed.
Temptations: Narcotics officer arrested for stealing coke and meth from evidence room.
Shortages: Marijuana crop crisis in the Southwest.
Crackdowns: Reducing cocaine availability in US.
World’s Poor Dying in Agony: Doctors won’t prescribe addictive pain killers.