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“Talk. They Hear You.”® Celebrates 10 Years of Preventing Underage Substance Use

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Date: September 29, 2023
Categories: Substance Use, Prevention

This year, “Talk. They Hear You.”® celebrates its 10th anniversary. SAMHSA’s national prevention campaign helps parents and caregivers, educators, and community members get informed, be prepared, and take action to prevent underage drinking and other substance use.

The campaign is designed to capitalize on the prevention science literature and add to the knowledge base. The literature1,2 suggests that parents’ interactions with kids about alcohol and other substances can provide a unique opportunity for effective intervention.

“Talk. They Hear You.”® seeks to:

  • Increase parents’ awareness of the prevalence and risks of underage substance use;
  • Equip parents with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to prevent underage use; and
  • Increase parents’ actions to prevent underage use.

The campaign offers:

Anyone can make use of the campaign’s free products and tools, anytime. Communities and schools can get started with “Talk. They Hear You.”® by downloading the easy-to-use campaign implementation guide (PDF | 925 KB).

Launched in 2013, the campaign set out to provide parents and caregivers with resources to address alcohol with their children. In 2017, amid the opioid crisis, the campaign was extended to include other drugs; and in 2018, it grew from an initial focus on kids ages 9-15 to encompass all youth under age 21. Given the success of the campaign, it further expanded to include the role of schools in 2020 and communities in 2022. Screen4Success launched in 2022.

Under the leadership of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD), SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) developed the “Talk. They Hear You.”® campaign in response to directives set forth in the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act (STOP Act), requiring the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to: fund and oversee a national adult-oriented media public service campaign; and report annually on the production, broadcasting, and evaluation of this campaign.

The campaign has:

  • Registered more than 1,500 licensed campaign partners across the country.
  • Garnered more than 22.4 billion impressions of its PSAs on television, radio, and in print publications. The value of these PSAs, based on what they would have cost as paid ads, is estimated at $267 million.
  • Earned recognition from the National Parent Teacher Association’s School of Excellence Program.
  • Won 58 awards (Viddy Awards, Telly Awards, Berreth Award, dotCOMM Awards, Hermes Creative Awards, MarCom Awards, Thoth Award) since 2018.

An evaluation of “Talk. They Hear You.”® is part of the ICCPUD’s annual Report to Congress.

We invite you to celebrate “Talk. They Hear You.”® with us. You can also join us at SAMHSA’s 20th Prevention Day. Plan a local event with Communities Talk to Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Misuse. Participate in National Prevention Week and #MyPreventionStory throughout the year. For additional opportunities for youth and young adults to get involved as agents of change, visit Voices of Youth. Download SAMHSA’s Prevention Month toolkit, each October.

Everyone has a role to play in prevention. Check out our “Talk. They Hear You.”® campaign to learn more about what you can do today ― to advance prevention in your community. Together, we’re partners in prevention.

1 Nash SG, McQueen A, Bray JH. (2005). Pathways to Adolescent Alcohol Use: Family Environment, Peer Influence, and Parental Expectations. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 37(1), 19–28. 

2 Wood MD, Read JP, Mitchell RE, Brand, NH. (2004). Do Parents Still Matter? Parent and Peer Influences on Alcohol Involvement Among Recent High School Graduates. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 18(1), 19–30.