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NCADA’s Curiosity+Heroin Campaign

NCADA’s Curiosity+Heroin campaign began in 2010 to help raise awareness of the heroin/opioid problem in the eastern region of Missouri.

The campaign was initially supported by a small grant from the Missouri Department of Mental Health. Over the years, additional support was obtained through a small group of committed funders, led by DMH, but at different times including the United Way, the Missouri Foundation for Health, one large, local corporation and a number of private donors. This year, the DEA 360 Strategy is a key funding partner.

The campaign has included both targeted and broad community outreach efforts. Targeted efforts have included countless educational presentations to civic and healthcare organizations, local business, students, community coalitions, elected officials and treatment professionals. Broad measures have included billboards, radio spots, bus and bus shelter ads, and a strong, dedicated web and social media presence. Our “loudest” intervention is the airing of provocative and controversial PSAs during the local broadcast of the Super Bowl. The ads reach a huge audience and serve to get the community talking about—and taking actions to rein in—this public health emergency.

NCADA’s first heroin-related PSA aired during the Super Bowl on Feb. 1, 2015. More than 1.2 million people in the St. Louis region saw it, and news coverage by print, broadcast and internet outlets drew the attention of another 500,000 people nationally and around the world. The ad also became the subject of vigorous discussion, argumentation and sharing via social media sites. It seemed as though everyone from parents, children and teenagers to police, legislators, elected officials and government policy makers was talking about the ad and, more important, about finding solutions to the persistent deadly problem.

In 2016, our second PSA aired during local broadcast of the 2016 Super Bowl on KMOV-TV on Feb. 7, with a message aimed at a younger audience that warns of the devastating consequences of heroin use, dramatizing how it will cause them to lose the things they love the most.

This year, NCADA is running two PSAs during the Super Bowl. Neither ad mentions heroin and both focus on the dangers of prescription opioids and the need to store them safely. The DEA360 Strategy purchased the Super Bowl airtime and their significant financial investment in NCADA’s efforts further demonstrate their commitment to raise awareness, engage the community, and help reduce the demand for, and the misuse of, prescription opioids and heroin. While the safe storage of pills may not sound like a compelling subject, as the videos here demonstrate, we once again delivered a powerful message that will do more than just shock or anger viewers: we believe the ads will incite people to make a simple but effective change that will save lives.

The Facts

  • 80% of those admitted for treatment for heroin started with prescription pain medications.
  • Heroin and and prescription pain medications come from a class of drugs called opioids. These highly addictive drugs have very similar effects on the brain.
  • In the past several years, the purity of street heroin has drastically increased, allowing it to be snorted instead of having to be injected.
  • The purity of heroin is never known to consumers. It can be cut with more potent drugs or diluted. This uncertainty drastically increases the chances of an overdose.
  • Opioids are depressants. This means that heroin slows breathing and heart rate until both just stop.
  • In the past decade, thousands in St. Louis have died from opiate overdoses.

Preliminary numbers indicate a dramatic increase in opioid related overdose deaths here in the St. Louis area. The most recent data show approximately 545 opioid overdose deaths through October, 2016 which suggests the total for the year will exceed 600. This is nearly a 20% increase over 2015, which, until now, was the worst year on record. For more information about heroin and opiates, such as frequently asked questions, overdose prevention, and stories of recovery, visit our Curiosity+Heroin website.

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