Substance Misuse Prevention Media Campaigns

The following are examples of media campaigns developed by states, jurisdictions, and national organizations. The examples fall into the following focus areas: alcohol use; prescription drug misuse and abuse; public health; and underage drinking.

Most are social marketing campaigns, developed to promote specific prevention or health-promotion messages. Inclusion in this list does not reflect message endorsement.

State and Jurisdiction Campaigns

Alcohol Use

  • One Nation, Guam’s alcohol-free movement, aims to promote healthy lifestyles free of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The campaign works to reduce the social acceptability of alcohol use and to challenge the notion that alcohol is part of Guam culture by featuring local people who live healthy alcohol-free lifestyles. One Nation Guam’s target demographic includes youth, parents, and Chamorro and other Micronesian ethnicities.

Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse

  • Georgia’s Generation Rx Project is a three-year, SAMHSA-funded project to prevent the misuse of prescription drugs among young people ages 12 to 25 years in three state counties. The campaign encourages the safe disposal of unused and expired prescription medications, providing secure drop boxes to facilitate proper disposal. Generation Rx also trains youth as advocates for preventing prescription drug misuse and abuse, supplying them with skills to serve as leaders in the effort.
  • New Mexico’s Dose of Reality Campaign is a SAMHSA-funded statewide prevention campaign designed to educate teens and their parents about the risks associated with prescription painkiller misuse. The campaign uses multi-faceted communication strategies, comprising television, radio, online, print, and outdoor messaging. Resources are tailored to various populations (medical providers, students, parents, businesses, educators, and coaches) and include advertisements that promote safe storage and proper disposal of prescription drugs, commercials aimed at teens, and a parent resource toolkit.
  • The North Dakota Prescription Drug Abuse Campaign, developed by the Substance Abuse Prevention Division of North Dakota’s Department of Human Services, provides posters, flyers, factsheets, and media toolkits designed to educate the public about prescription drug misuse and abuse. The campaign offers suggestions for safeguarding medications in the home and information about the state’s safe prescription drug disposal program. As part of the campaign, the North Dakota Department of Human Services, Office of the Attorney General, and Association of Realtors collaborated to create a set of resources for realtors to share with their clients about the risk of prescription drug theft during open houses.
  • Ohio’s Prescription for Prevention: Stop the Epidemic campaign launched by the Ohio Department of Health, is an education and awareness campaign designed to prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse. The campaign includes public service announcements, drug disposal guidelines, and factsheets that include both county-specific and statewide data.
  • Wisconsin’s Good Drugs Gone Bad, a program and toolkit originally created in 2009 by the Northeast Wisconsin Coalition, undergoes regular revisions to provide the most up-to-date information about substance misuse. After producing successful public service announcements, the campaign collaborated with filmmakers to create a film for teens about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse. Other materials include customizable posters that community organizations can use to support their substance misuse prevention efforts, PowerPoint presentations, handouts for prevention practitioners, and a non-fiction book about a former police officer’s struggle with prescription drug abuse.

Public Health

  • Montana’s Most of Us campaign, developed by Montana’s Center for Health and Safety Culture, uses social norms marketing techniques to address public health issues such as tobacco use and substance misuse. The Montana Model of Social Norms comprises a seven-step process that involves planning, assessment, pilot testing, implementation, and evaluation. Campaign topics include methamphetamine education and prevention, drinking and driving prevention, and underage drinking reduction.

Underage Drinking

  • Colorado’s SpeakNow! campaign was developed under the state’s Partnerships for Success (PFS) grant. The campaign encourages parents and caregivers to talk to their children about the dangers of alcohol misuse. It provides an action plan for engaging in open discussions about the challenges associated with underage drinking and healthy alternatives. The SpeakNow! website also enables parents to text their teenagers as a way to informally begin these conversations. In addition, the campaign provides information on Colorado’s underage drinking laws and associated legal consequences.
  • Hawaii’s Be a Jerk campaign encourages adults to “be a jerk” by saying no to underage drinking. Rather than targeting individuals, Be a Jerk focuses on creating an environment where alcohol is less available to youth, and changing community attitudes toward underage drinking. To achieve these goals, Be a Jerk works with community members to:
    • Limit the number of alcohol advertisements aimed at youth
    • Ask local stores and bars to implement more stringent ID checks
    • Change community norms related to the acceptability of underage drinking
  • Maine’s Parent Media Campaign (Maine) aims to raise awareness of underage alcohol use. Campaign materials include brochures for parents that contain state-specific data on teenage drinking, adolescent brain development, perception vs. fact, and signs of teen alcohol use. In addition to brochures, the campaign uses radio advertisements, posters, and parent contact cards to increase awareness of teenage alcohol use.
  • Massachusetts’ Reality Check campaign supplies parents with information about laws related to underage drinking, local data, and tips for starting conversations with youth and with other parents. The campaign also describes different ways that youth procure alcohol and offers tips for preventing access. The campaign is run by the Cambridge Prevention Coalition, an innovative community-based coalition that engages youth and adults to reduce underage drinking.

National Campaigns

Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse

  • The AWARxE Prescription Drug Safety Program is designed to spread awareness about prescription drug misuse and abuse. It offers tips for understanding prescription information, safely acquiring and administering medications, and properly disposing of unused medications. The campaign also encourages people to share their personal stories about prescription drug misuse and connects website users with prescription drug awareness events happening across the United States.
  • Up and Away and Out of Sight is an educational program to remind families of the importance of safe medicine storage. It is an initiative of PROTECT, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Educational Foundation among others. The campaign encourages adults to keep medicine out of reach of small children and to teach children about medicine safety. Other tips include never telling a child that medicine is candy, (even if having trouble administering medicine) and instructing guests to keep purses, bags, and coats containing medication out of sight. Parents and caregivers can take a pledge on the campaign website to keep medication up and away from children. Those who take the pledge are encouraged to share it with friends and family via social media and email. The website is also available in Spanish.

Public Health

  • Above the Influence, created as part of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, aims to help teens stand up to peer pressure and other influences that encourage the use of drugs and alcohol. Through television commercials, Internet advertising, and regular communication with teens via Facebook, this educational campaign encourages teens to be aware and critical of all messages they receive about drugs and alcohol. Acknowledging that the campaign provides one of many messages teens receive about alcohol and drug use, the website urges teens to review sources of information to check the facts and make informed decisions.
  • NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse is a campaign geared toward adolescents ages 11 to 15 years. It uses a blog, videos, and drug factsheets to educate youth, parents, and teachers about the science behind drug misuse. The campaign website contains information on a wide array of substances, including emerging drug trends. The blog contains celebrity stories about the dangers of substance misuse, answers to real questions from teens, and information about how the brain works and the effects of drugs on the brain.

Underage Drinking

  • SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.” Public service announcement campaign encourages parents and caregivers to talk to their children about the dangers of alcohol. It is designed to increase parents’ awareness and understanding of underage drinking, and to help them engage in thoughtful conversations on the topic with the young people in their lives. Resources available in English and in Spanish include information on the consequences of underage drinking, advice for answering difficult questions that children may ask about alcohol, and sample text messages that parents can send to their children reminding them not to drink.
  • SAMHSA’s Too Smart to Start public education initiative aims to stimulate conversations between youth and adults on the harms of underage alcohol use, and to create an environment where youth, parents, and the general public see underage drinking as harmful. The Too Smart to Start website includes separate sections for youth; teens; and families, educators, and community leaders, each with its own set of information and engagement tools.
  • We Don’t Serve Teens, developed by the Federal Trade Commission, provides materials for high schools, colleges, social services organizations, and alcohol industry members to spread the message that providing alcohol to teens is unsafe, illegal, and irresponsible. Campaign materials include press releases, letters to the editor, radio public services announcements, and buttons to add to websites. The campaign website also includes facts about underage drinking, alcohol laws by state, and media literacy tools.
Last Updated: 06/29/2018