Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Drug Ads

Have you been noticing the recent trend in anti-drug advertisements now? Instead of focusing on the harder drugs like methamphetamines, cocaine/crack and heroin or psychoactive drugs in general, the partnership for a drug-free America is focusing on the dangers of marijuana.

The implied justification of trying to curb marijuana use is that once a teenager goes down that route they are more likely to try other illegal and mind-altering drugs. Marijuana may be relatively innocuous, but the fear is that it leads to a slippery slope of harder and harder drugs.

Perhaps the motivation is reasonable but the claims in these ads of heavy brain damage, horrific car accidents, dead babies, STDs and other terrible side-effects of using pot are durbious. While all results are technically possible, the claims made are exaggerations of the dangers of using the drug. The reality is that most occasional users will never run into these problems, just like social drinkers likely never run into the problems associated with alcohol abuse. And once people realize that the claims are faulty, perhaps the slippery slope of someone trying harder and harder drugs can ironically come true.

The intentions come from the right place in trying to convince people not to abuse drugs and ruin their lives, but the methods are just wrongheaded. Personally, I think anti-drug commercials would be much more effective doing things like showing the accelerated aging of meth-heads, heroin addicts talking about the depths they go to earn money, lives being ruined due to STDs coming from ecstasy-induced orgies and people talking about falling from the heights of success to do drugs etc. Show the truth about what some of these drugs can do to people and the public will begin to take drug warnings seriously again.