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National campaign uses Utah's anti-meth ads

TV spots part of effort to raise awareness about drug's effects

Three television ads produced for Utah's anti-methamphetamine campaign, End Meth Now, are being incorporated into a revamped public education effort by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The office, which is under the auspices of the White House and was established by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, establishes by law strategies, policies, priorities and objectives for the country's drug-control program.

Three TV spots titled "Sisters," "Homecoming" and "Story Book" have been running since September when the broadcast, print, billboard and Web-based outreach campaign began.

Raising public awareness about the potent, synthetic, crystallized stimulant began in earnest in Utah in September and was headed by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. after a special task force documented the soaring use of the illicit drug. When smoked, swallowed, inhaled or injected, meth triggers a cascading release of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, so-called pleasure neurotransmitters in the brain.

Utah drug treatment professionals, county officials, concerned residents and even recovering meth users in the campaign started a statewide conversation on meth use, addiction recovery and the impact the drug has on society, communities and families.

"We all know the ravages this drug can cause," R. Gil Kerlikowske, new drug-control policy director, said Thursday. Unlike other state campaigns that have focused on skull-and-crossbones approaches, "this work from Utah shows there is hope" and that "people can and do recover from meth addiction."

The Utah Methamphetamine Joint Task Force was a collaborative effort of the governor, state agencies and the Utah Association of Counties. Its research showed use of the drug had reached epidemic proportions across the state.

Methamphetamine is the No. 1 illegal drug of choice for all Utahns and accounts for about 30 percent of the 19,000 admissions to public treatment programs. Although use has decreased, in part because of the campaign, organizers say, nearly three-quarters of women in treatment are mothers ages 18 to 35.

The television ads feature actual users and/or a family member or loved one. Musician Sarah McLachlan donated the use of her song "Answer" to the campaign. To review the print, outdoor and television advertisements, visit www.endmethnow.org/viewads.

e-mail: jthalman@desnews.com