This drug abuse video is the peak of patronising advise to young people

‘This is your brain on drugs’


An anti-drugs advert from the 1980s has resurfaced having been revamped by a charity that aims to support families who are dealing with their children’s substance abuse.

The original ad basically compared the effects of drugs on the brain to an egg being fried. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids recently released a revamped version, which also highlights some of the questions that kids ask about drugs.

Rebecca Shaw, director of advertising and production at the charity, said that in the 80s, it was enough to just say that drugs are dangerous, but that the issue has now become more complicated, and teens have more questions about drug use.

You can watch the video below:

But there’s some serious issues with it. Firstly, they compare an egg frying in a pan to your brain on drugs. It’s also a massive stigmatisation of drug users.  The advert has been criticised by Matt Curtis, policy director of campaign group Vocal New York, who said that the advert “stigmatised drug users”, which can lead to discrimination in health care and poor drug health treatment.

Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance said that the link the advert directs parents to is “seriously lacking” in information, and that the charity are “missing a major opportunity to provide accurate information to young people.”

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The video is just another prime example of the failings of drugs education for young people. It seems like anti-drugs campaigns just want to slam a big sign saying “DON’T DO DRUGS” in our faces, instead of offering any useful or relevant information.

Think back to your PSHE lessons in school – you might have got a bit of info about what different drugs do, but where was the information about how to deal with a situation when things go wrong?

It’s naive to think that young people aren’t going to experiment with drugs at uni, so they may as well be taught what to expect and how to stay safe. Maybe instead of just telling kids not to do drugs, they should be telling them to buy from a trusted dealer instead of some random inside a club, or how to help one of your friends when they’ve taken a bit too much.

If these campaigns actually want young people to stay safe, they need to face reality and start offering relevant advise.