Anti-Drug Commercials Must Get Real 

Anti-Drug Commercials Must Get Real 
Posted by FoM on October 19, 1999 at 08:33:33 PT
By Myriam Marquez
Source: Orlando Sentinel
A child's death devastates parents. The child can be 6 or 26, die of an incurable disease or by his own reckless misbehavior. Doesn't matter. 
The parents' pain, their frustrations about their inability to change what happened persist.In that context, two Central Florida mothers whose sons died of drug overdoses went to Washington last week to make their case for a more realistic public-relations approach to drug-fighting. They make a good point. The federal government puts out too many too-soft, too-gimmicky anti-drug public-service announcements to make a difference.Will a gal smashing a kitchen with a frying pan to illustrate what drugs can do to a person's brain really help stop a young person from taking another hit of heroin or designer drugs, such as Ecstasy? Will it save another mother from the heartache of losing her child to a drug overdose?During the 1980s, I wondered if the television ad showing an egg in a frying pan -- "This is your brain on drugs" -- wasted our time. Did Nancy Reagan's "just say no" campaign actually help kids fight the peer pressure to experiment with drugs?Republicans said it did. And drug-use statistics that showed a spike upward in drug use by the mid 1990s -- once the egg campaign had disappeared -- seemed to validate the "just say no" cause.But politics being politics, now we have Rep. John Mica suggesting that the White House may be wasting money on an anti-drug campaign that appears too bureaucratic and "untested."Mica was questioning President Clinton's drug-policy adviser, Barry McCaffrey, during a congressional hearing last week. The tough, retired general is caught in the middle of partisan bickering.Even so-called drug-abuse experts disagree about the best way to prevent young people from experimenting with drugs. No one answer suffices. What works for some young people proves totally worthless to others.A couple of years ago, when it became clear that Orlando was fast becoming a heroin haven for teenagers, I asked several Central Florida drug-abuse experts why they hadn't included young, recovering addicts -- those who had turned around their lives -- in the local drug-abuse education campaign in the schools.Oh, that sends a mixed message to the students, one expert told me. The others all nodded their heads. The consensus: High-school students would look at the former addict and say, "See, even if you hit bottom, you can always come back and fix your life. So why not try it?"Yet now young people speak out at schools about their past addictions, and they help make a difference. Apparently, local drug experts have since realized that peer pressure works both ways. Druggies can get some people to believe that snorting, sniffing or puffing do no harm. But former drug users can put a face on "the rest of the story."From New York to Orlando, in certain circles, heroin has become the "chic" drug of choice for those who mistakenly believe that snorting the powder -- instead of cooking it and shooting it up a vein -- won't lead to addiction, broken lives and, for some, death.Meanwhile, many parents continue to believe that having one talk with a child about the dangers of drugs suffices and that their kid wouldn't be that stupid. Yet national surveys continue to show that the message doesn't sink in unless parents take every opportunity available -- a news item about a busted sports star, a movie that might portray drug use as fashionable -- to talk with their son or daughter about the reality of drug abuse.If the talk isn't a conversation -- but rather a parent's sermon -- that won't work either.Nor will politicians' partisan grandstanding create a drug-fighting policy worth pursuing.Published in The Orlando Sentinel on October 18, 1999. 1999 Orlando Sentinel Online Mica Squares Off With White House Anti-Drug Chief - 10/15/99
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Comment #1 posted by Michelle on January 15, 2001 at 18:23:10 PT:
To any parent who is reading this, anti-drug campaigns aren't going to do the trick to get your child not do drugs. Just like when you tell your three year old not to put his finger in the socket, what does he try to do? What you said was bad. That's just like drugs. You can't tell a child not to do something because it's going to make them want to do it more. Talk to your child about it with an open mind. Show them what it can do. Don't let the government do your job. I laugh at the commercials shown about drugs, they are seen as a joke. There is nothing that can be done media wise to promote or demote drugs. Drugs are every where you go, whether you're a child or an adult. It's your desicion to do them or not to. Does a K-mart commercial make you want to shop at k-mart? No. What k-mart has to offer makes you shop there. just like drugs. SO GET OVER IT!!! Be a better parent and don't blame the media for your mistakes.
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