Harm reduction journal 2017 01 1314(1) 3 doi 10.1186/s12954-017-0132-7
Due to the popularity of public service announcements (PSAs), as well as the broader health and social harms associated with illicit drug use, this study sought to investigate how drug prevention messages found in the Government of Canada’s DrugsNot4Me campaign were understood, experienced, and engaged with among a group of street-involved young people in Vancouver, Canada.
Qualitative interviews were conducted with 25 individuals enrolled in the At-Risk Youth Study, and a thematic analysis was conducted.
Findings indicate that the campaign’s messages neither resonated with "at-risk youth", nor provided information or resources for support. In some cases, the messaging exacerbated the social suffering experienced by these individuals.
This study underscores the importance of rigorous evaluation of PSAs and the need to consider diverting funds allocated to drug prevention campaigns to social services that can meaningfully address the structural drivers of drug-related harms among vulnerable youth populations.