Painkiller addiction and the prescription drug abuse epidemic continues to ravage communities all across the United States. In fact, statistics reveal that 44 people in the U.S. die from an overdose of prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone, each day. Prescription painkiller abuse in 2013 alone has affected nearly two million American adults. For this reason, many organizations have stepped forward to wage a battle against the rising tide of opioid addiction. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is leading the charge by conducting a nationwide campaign aimed at educating the public on the risks of painkiller abuse as well as methods to reduce use and get assistance for addiction problems. Their willingness to bring public awareness to the issue is to be commended and emulated.
Targeting Populations At-Risk for Prescription Painkiller Abuse and Overdose Deaths
Unlike many traditional street drugs, the prescription pill abuse epidemic targets a younger and more middle class demographic. These individuals are abusing opioid-based drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone and methadone. According to statistics these are also the prescription painkillers most at fault for overdose deaths in the U.S. While the CDC has identified and implemented safe prescribing practices, state policy changes and prescription drug monitoring programs, these methods are aimed mainly at medical and treatment providers. They are not particularly beneficial at targeting the actual individuals who are abusing or addicted to painkillers, such as oxycodone. For this reason, another massive marketing effort was required to garner a higher level of public support and awareness in stopping painkiller deaths.
The Power of Social Media – Promoting Prescription Painkiller Abuse Awareness and Overdose Death Prevention
A primary component of the CDC’s campaign is utilizing social networking to spread awareness about the destructiveness of painkiller addiction. The primary efforts surround the “When the Prescription Becomes the Problem” campaign, which allows individuals suffering from or impacted by painkiller abuse to tell their story via video or photo using six words or less. Using #RxProblem, individuals can become part of the anti-abuse awareness campaign and help spread the message further on their own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram networks. It’s not only a way to urge others to stop abusing painkillers, but also a way to celebrate the ones who have been freed from the damaging control that addiction had over their lives. This approach is particularly effective among younger individuals, who are at a higher risk of abusing painkillers than others in the population. This type of “meet them where they are” marketing campaign is the key to targeting specialized at-risk groups who may not be reached by broader marketing campaigns.
Pre-Compiled Promotional Content
Another important component of the CDC’s campaign is that they have compiled an extensive resource database to help participants get involved quickly. It includes data and facts, sample tweets, free videos and an entire library of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram images that are free to download. Giving individuals a large supply of free promotional content allows them to get involved immediately and on multiple platforms.
A Network That Helps Itself
One of the most important parts of this campaign is that is includes current abusers, former abusers and an entire host of others who are there to support those individuals. Thus, it isn’t just a way to bring the dangers of abuse to light but also a way to provide encouragement and help as well. In essence, this community can encourage, help and motivate each other as well as educate and warn as well. This type of approach is likely to garner more widespread acceptance because drug abusers feel that they are an accepted part of a community, rather than a problem.