New Era of Reaching out to Parents

Innovation and clever marketing aren’t just attributes reserved for companies like Apple and Google. People like those in our industry who want to save lives are also innovating their commercials and products to help teens who are at risk of becoming drug overdose casualties.

Two years ago, during Super Bowl XLII, a major ad campaign kicked off to stem the growing trend of teenage prescription drug abuse.

This clever spot made people think and no doubt raised awareness about the ever present danger of having pain medications where teenagers could access them.

Another clever spot was the one about the “Out of Work Drug Dealer:”

In these thirty-second, multi-million dollar spots, the Partnership for a Drug Free America decided to change tactics and instead of focusing on the dangers of drug dealers and their illicit drugs, turned its attention to parents.

Millions of people saw the commercial, and as all Super Bowl commercials do, it received a lot of attention. In it, a sleazy drug dealer loiters alone on a corner. He talks directly to the camera, directly to the millions of parents, explaining that he didn’t get your kids hooked on drugs, you did. His drug dealing business is down, because you give the drugs away for free by allowing your kids free access to your prescription medications. It was a powerful, accusing message, forcing parents to examine something they may never have even thought of as a potential problem.

The rise in prescription drug abuse has hit staggering numbers. While many parents visualize a drug dealer like the one portrayed in the commercial as the one to start their kids on the painful road toward addiction, in reality the temptation of an easy drug high may rest in their own medicine cabinets.

Educating Parents on the Dangers in their Own Home

Before this campaign, and others like it, it often didn’t dawn on the parents, to even think of the hidden dangers of leaving highly addictive and easily abused drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin, Valium, Xanax, sleeping medications, Ritalin and Concerta within arms-reach.

Since this time, awareness has begun to spread. Many parents are now starting to realize the risk; and with this awareness, the focus has changed to educating parents on how to protect their medications properly. This can be seen in the newest commercial in the campaign showing two parents going through their medicine cabinet, removing all the labels from the prescription medicine bottles in an attempt to keep them “safe” from their kids. It’s done in a humorous fashion, with the parents soon realizing they can’t tell one pill bottle from another as the father wonders which pill he’s supposed to take. The end of the commercial tells parents there’s a better way, and directs parents to the Parents: The Anti-Drug website for more information.

The Rx Locker

At the website they give advice on how to protect your medications, including how to store them and dispose of them. One of the solutions they offer is a link to a new product endorsed on several television and radio spots by Celebrity Drug Rehab host Dr. Drew Pinsky called the RX Locker. This is basically a small plastic safe that fits into your medicine cabinet and holds parents most easily abused medications. He stresses that it’s not fool-proof, but it at least lets your kids know that you are serious about your medications.

Other important information being communicated to parents is how to spot the signs of prescription drug abuse including a change in behavior, drastic mood swings, a sudden drop in grades, plus physical signs of withdrawal or intoxication, in addition to finding empty prescription bottles or over the counter medications.

No matter what, the most important thing a parent should know is that if they suspect their child is abusing drugs, whether illicit or prescription, help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sober Living by the Sea has a team of intake counselors which are trained in educating parents how to start a dialog with their loved ones. Sober Living by the Sea also has a nationwide network of interventionists who can help confront someone in need of help.