R.I. runs $600K prevention campaign ‘The Truth About Opioids’

THE TRUTH ABOUT OPIOIDS video will run on local TV this month to warn people from the dangers of the drugs and addiction. COURTESY/R.I. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
THE TRUTH ABOUT OPIOIDS video will run on local TV this month to warn people from the dangers of the drugs and addiction. COURTESY/R.I. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

PROVIDENCE — Gov. Gina M. Raimondo’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force announced today a local $600,000 social media and television public prevention campaign, “The Truth About Opioids,” featuring a series of true stories about addiction in an effort to curb abuse of the potent and addictive painkillers.

The campaign, created by Truth Initiative, using research partially conducted in Rhode Island, launched nationally last week. The prevention effort, in partnership with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Ad Council, aims to prevent and reduce misuse of opioids among youth and young adults.

The ads address the significant role prescription medications have played in the overdose epidemic and were designed to achieve four targeted outcomes:  to get people to talk about the epidemic with friends and family; to encourage people to seek more information about prescription opioids and the epidemic; to impact young people’s perception of risk for misuse; and to impact their intentions to share or misuse prescription opioids.

“The opioid epidemic continues to be our most urgent public health crisis. The proliferation of these narcotics has had a devastating impact on our state,” Raimondo said, “It is vitally important that we talk openly and often about the dangers to prevent opioid misuse and ensure all are able to get the help they need.”

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The first wave of ads, which feature true stories of young Americans with opioid use disorder, will begin running in Rhode Island through an extensive, state-specific media buy later this month.

Rhode Island is the only state to invest so much in a local media buy to ensure greater reach and frequency of these campaign messages. Through this partnership with Truth Initiative, Rhode Island was chosen as a site for some of the formative research used to develop the campaign. This research was conducted through focus groups and pre-testing of concepts with Rhode Islanders to measure attitudes about prescription opioid misuse and dependence.

The state will also be instrumental in the evaluation of the national campaign to determine whether the messages are shifting knowledge and attitudes about prescription opioids. Truth Initiative surveyed 18 to 34-year-olds in Rhode Island to measure knowledge and attitudes before the campaign launch, and will survey people in this age group again after the campaign has played in our local media market for about nine months.

The Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, the R.I. Department of Health and the R.I. Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals partnered with Truth Initiative on the campaign.

“As we do everything we can to get treatment and recovery resources to those living with substance-use disorder, it is critical that we communicate to individuals, families, and communities about what they can do to prevent prescription opioid misuse and dependence. Something as simple as a conversation can be powerful enough to save a life,” said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the director of the R.I. Department of Health.

The local implementation of the campaign is supported through federal funds and donations from the Del Prete Family Foundation, which contributed $500,000 and $50,000 each from the Rhode Island Foundation and the Pfizer Foundation.

“Ensuring that people have the resources they need in order to live healthy lives is one of our priorities. We are very pleased to support this effort aimed at substance use prevention, as part of the state’s broader response strategy,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.