Painkiller abuse and addiction and the prescription drug epidemic continue to ravage communities all across the United States. In fact, statistics reveal that 44 people in the U.S. die from prescription painkiller overdoses, 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 Rx Awareness Campaign to educate the public on the risks of painkiller abuse and methods to reduce use and get assistance for addiction problems. As a result, many commend and emulate their willingness to bring public awareness to the issue.
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 abuse 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. The CDC identified and implemented safe prescribing practices, state policy changes, and prescription drug monitoring programs. However, the focus of these methods is medical and treatment providers. They are not particularly beneficial at targeting the actual individuals who abuse or suffer from addiction to painkillers, like oxycodone. Therefore, another massive marketing effort was required to garner more 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 painkiller addiction’s destructiveness. The direct efforts surround the “When the Prescription Becomes the Problem” campaign. Thus, allowing 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 further spread the message on their own Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram networks. It’s a way to urge others to stop abusing painkillers and to celebrate those 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. This type of “meet them where they are” marketing campaign is the key to targeting specialized at-risk groups who broader marketing campaigns may not reach.
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Pre-Compiled Promotional Content
Another important component of the CDC’s campaign is compiling an extensive resource database to help participants become involved quickly. It includes data and facts, sample tweets, free videos, and an entire library of downloadable Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram images. Giving individuals a large supply of free promotional content allows them to become engaged immediately and on multiple platforms.
A Network That Helps Itself
One of the most important parts of this campaign is that it includes current abusers, former abusers, and an entire host of others supporting those individuals. Thus, it’s a way to bring the dangers of abuse to light but also to provide encouragement and help. In essence, this community can encourage, help, and motivate each other and educate and warn. 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.