Youth opioid addiction targeted in White House ad campaign
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The White House and the Office of National Drug Control Policy on Thursday unveiled a long-awaited anti-opioid advertising campaign that focuses on preventing misuse among young adults.
The "Stop Youth Opioid Abuse" ad campaign features graphic re-enactments of four individuals' stories about becoming addicted to prescription opioids. President Donald Trump first promoted the plan in October, and the ads were developed in conjunction with the Ad Council and the Truth Initiative—best known for their ongoing anti-smoking media campaign.
"We are communicating directly with the public in a way that will really sharpen the mind to see what is happening with individuals across this country, the extreme length that they will go to," White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said in a conference call with reporters Thursday.
The public service announcements will run nationally across several platforms including television and social media. In one story, a young woman named Amy P. from Columbus, Ohio, described how she beca,e addicted to Vicodin following knee surgery, which led to her purposely wrecking her car in order to another prescription.
Other stories show a young man who breaks his own arm using a door, another taking a hammer to break his hand, and in one instance, a young man kicks a carjack to allow a car to fall on top of him and breaking his back in order to get a prescription for more opioids.
All of the ads can be found on a website that includes information about the opioid epidemic and provides links to resources to find treatment.
"We can and must continue to take every step necessary to prevent opioid abuse before it begins," Jim Carroll, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy said in a statement. "This public education campaign is research-based and multi-platform, designed to catch the attention of young people and direct them to resources to help educate them on the dangers of opioids."
Information on the site focuses on what to tell a physician who wanted to prescribe pain relieving medications. There are few references to more powerful drugs such as fentanyl, which has overtaken prescription opioids as the major driver of the current epidemic.
The media campaign marks the first significant move by the White House to address the opioid epidemic since Trump declared the crisis a public health emergency Oct. 23.
The launch comes at a time when Congress is slated to pass a slew of opioid-related bills over the next few weeks. In March, lawmakers approved more than $3 billion in funding to combat the opioid crisis as part of the omnibus spending bill passed to avoid a government shutdown.
Many addiction medicine experts criticized the president's idea of conducting an anti-opioid ad campaign when he first announced the plan in October, likening it to a repeat of the Reagan-era "Just Say No" campaign of the 1980s.
The amount of media time that was donated to run the ads is expected to be worth more than $30 million, said Lisa Sherman, president of the Ad Council during the conference.
An estimated 116 Americans die from opioid drug overdose each day in the US, according to HHS.
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