Anti-meth ads are in a class unto themselves. Now, if you are like me, you may have been casually minding your own business, watching some network television or reading some tame magazine or even driving past a billboard, when you stumble upon a shocking image like the one below. It forces you to think about things that most of us would prefer not to think about. Abused teens, rape, and drug abuse are not my idea of stimulating breakfast conversation.
Is interrupting my daily life to think about these morbid topics a good or a bad thing? Are these ads effective in stopping meth use?
|Montana Meth Project ad|
I wondered if they had ever considered that over-exposing children to meth ads might make them more accustomed to the idea of taking the drug? Fear tactics have a way of backfiring. Children are taught what the word "patronizing" means at just about the same time they are supposed to start looking at these ads. Kids are interested in whatever grown-ups are talking about, and judging from the frequency of these ad placements, we talk about meth a lot.
A quick Google search allowed me to discover that The Boise Weekly recently ran a story on this very issue. I must be picking up signals from someone over there in Boise. Lets get to the heart of the matter:
The study, published in the September issue of the Journal of Health Economics said that the Montana Meth Project, the model of similar projects in Idaho and six other states, didn't affect the use of the drug.
"Research shows that the project has had no discernable impact on meth use," said D. Mark Anderson, A UW doctoral student in economics, author of the study.This is not good for the people who advocate spending millions of dollars on a cause that doesn't appear to be effective. The silver lining in all of this is that the venture is privately funded, meaning our tax dollars didn't go to waste. But they almost did:
In February 2009, the Montana legislature came under increased pressure to withdraw funding to the Meth Project after an analysis of Meth Project tax forms revealed that the Project spends large amounts of money on staff salaries and website costs.This is another lesson to be wary of where you spend your charity money. Some organizations do real good in this world, and others use appeals to emotion in order to extract cash. The issue isn't if meth is good or bad. We know it is bad when abused. The issue I am concerned about is the effectiveness of obnoxious ads that a select group of people are profiting from. So the next time you see an anti-meth poster that you have trouble discerning from a horror movie and your four old child asks what a meth pipe is, you can thank the Montana Meth Project.