The National Council On Alcoholism And Drug Dependence, St Louis Chapter took the bold step of creating an anti-heroin public service announcement(PSA) and air it during the Superbowl, apparently only in the St. Louis area.
The gist of the PSA, which is below, is a white cheerleader struggling with heroin addiction with images of her all-white cheer-leading squad cheering.. “Give Me An H!…. Give me an E!… you can figure out the rest. Let’s not forget to leave out the sad eyed white dog. (I’m color blind so if Rover is more off-colored white, my apologies) Vivid images of white suburbia, solidifying the disenfranchising, “addiction is just a white ,suburban problem” message.
I would have been more diverse in my portrayal of the issue and the ‘drugs are bad” message is tried an failed on multiple levels on both a preventative and awareness level. It just does not work. Teens know heroin is bad. Addiction transcends that message. This is not rocket science. Anyone in the recovery sphere knows this. “Just Say No” does not work. End of story. Do your research. Ask your friend who is struggling if he/ or she already knows heroin is destructive.
The most bizarre part of all is that this PSA aired only in St. Louis. A community which according to latest stats, has an overall minority demographic of about 50 percent. I won’t look it up, but I suspect some them are teens addicted to heroin. I am sure a group of suburban ,all-white cheerleaders really resonates with that community. Add sarcasm font.
In short, while the PSA is well intended, it comes of as sexualized, creepy, and as disenfranchising everyone who is an addict other than white suburban teens. How could the St. Louis Chapter of the NCADD not see this before they hit upload?
Back to the drawing board. Hopefully the next PSA will focus on the underlying reasons teens make the choice and the treatment that is available for those who do. I think we all agree. Heroin is bad. WE don’t have to keep repeating it. Let’s try something else.