Today, Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) launched the Stop Addiction In Its Tracks public awareness campaign to educate parents about the warning signs of opioid misuse as part of the Commonwealth’s preventative strategy and the Governor’s Opioid Working Group’s recommendations set to be released next week.
“Education is an essential part of the cure for this epidemic, starting with parents and their children who are the most susceptible to not understanding the dangers associated with the misuse of prescription painkillers,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This campaign is about keeping our children safe from the grip of opioid addiction by working to prevent drug use before it begins.”
Beginning today, the campaign will run throughout the summer on television and online, driving viewers to www.mass.gov/StopAddiction, an information hub to guide parents on how to best talk to their children, explain treatment options and provide assistance for those seeking help at 1-800-327-5050. In addition to the website, online-only videos, banners and web-ads, the campaign will consist of several television public service announcements.
“If you think it can’t be your kid, think again,” said Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (HHS) Marylou Sudders, who also chairs the Governor’s Opioid Working Group. “With this messaging, we are impressing on parents that the road to heroin could start with what is left in our own homes and medicine cabinets.”
Governor Baker named the Opioid Working Group in February to hold public listening sessions and develop strategic recommendations for the Commonwealth’s response to the opioid epidemic. Over 1,200 individuals attended four hearings across the state to share their stories with the working group.
“We repeatedly heard from parents during the Working Group listening sessions and in focus groups that they wanted the facts. They wanted to know the harsh realities of opioid misuse and addiction and how they can spot the warning signs that their child may be in danger,” said Dr. Monica Bharel, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health. “The website provides straight-forward details along with personal stories from parents who have dealt first-hand with this tragedy.”
One of the ads, “Liz’s Story,” features Janis McGrory from Harwich, who lost her daughter Liz at age 23 to a heroin overdose.
“People deserve to understand the dangers of prescription drugs and how easy it is for children to become addicted,” said McGrory, whose other daughter Amy also participated in the ad. “Our Liz mattered. She was a wonderful daughter and sister. Removing the stigma of addiction, education and treatment of the disease is critical.”
The 2013 Youth Health Survey demonstrated an increased risk of prescription drug use amongst teens in the Commonwealth. Four percent of middle school students and 13% of high school students reported that they had taken a prescription drug that was not their own.
The $800,000 cost of the campaign was funded through a federal grant to DPH’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS) for the purpose of educating parents about opioid use, with the public service announcements being developed by MORE Advertising, HHS, and DPH’s BSAS. Public service announcements will initially run from June 17 to July 31, with the social and web components continuing to remain active.
Click here to visit the Stop Addiction In Its Tracks website and additional media components of the campaign.