Prevention is a process that takes the collaboration of parents, teachers, and law enforcement in order to be effective. Getting a teen to listen to an adult talk about saying no to drugs can be difficult, and some organizations are finding new, effective ways to reach young people with this important message.
Drug prevention should start in the home, with parents talking to their child about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. As kids get older, they will hear the same message in school and through community programs. At times, however, kids often stop listening to the message, because they may be more interested in experimenting with drugs and trying to fit in with the crowd. One new campaign speaks to teens in pictures, rather than words, and it is already clear that young people really do hear this message.
From Drugs to Mugs
The campaign uses a combination of pictures and video of drug users to warn kids about the dangers of meth. It is called From Drugs to Mugs, and it was created by the sheriff’s office in Multnomah County, Oregon, after researching what prevention methods are the most effective for teens. This county found that real stories from addicts are able to speak to teens when other methods fail. The videos are not meant to simply scare teens, but rather, to share actual stories about drug addiction and the consequences that go with it.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Along with the video campaign, the Multnomah County sheriff’s office has compiled before and after mug shots of meth addicts. The pictures were taken over a span of months or years, and they all show a dramatic transformation in the facial features of the addicts. Meth causes redness in the face; cysts and scabs on the face; discolored, broken, and missing teeth; and dramatic weight loss. The pictures that young adults see in this campaign are compelling and at times horrific. The hope is that the pictures speak to teens in a language they understand, and that seeing the devastating effects of drug use will deter them from ever experimenting with drugs.