Drug awareness ads: the more offensive, the better

Darren Aronofsky is the director who brought us such films as The Wrestler and Black Swan. However, his first big hit was the 2000 film Requiem For A Dream, probably the most famous, dark and shocking anti-drug film of all time. I still advise people who have not seen it, only to watch it on a bright day, preferably in summertime.

Methamphetamine (aka crystal meth) is a drug which increases alertness, concentration, energy, and in high doses, may induce euphoria, enhance self-esteem and increase libido. Meth has high potential for abuse and addiction, activating the psychological reward system by triggering a cascading release of dopamine in the brain. The psychological harm caused by meth abuse is colossal, with a fifth of addicts experiencing psychosis resembling schizophrenia for longer than six months (which is medical speak for permanent). This doesn’t take into account those who experience psychosis for a shorter period of time and indeed all the other mental illnesses experienced by addicts.

It is fitting that Aronofsky was asked to direct four short ads for an American meth awareness campaign. They are dark, much like his films, and all are deeply shocking.

There have been complaints from some parent groups that the adverts are too graphic and inappropriate for young teenagers. This is folly. There is little more graphic or offensive than young people addicted to drugs like methamphetamine. Indeed, addiction to any substance, especially when it concerns the youth, is offensive. This was the view taken by French advertising authorities last year, when dealing with anti-smoking ads which directly related nicotine addiction to the powerlessness of sexual slavery. The case was dismissed and the ad campaign went ahead.

The tag line reads ‘To smoke is to be a slave to tobacco’.

Offensive they may be, but really now – would you want to light up anywhere near a billboard with that picture on it? The more offensive, the more effective, the better.

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Filed under Ad Campaigns, Drugs, Film

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