25 October 2016

A new weapon in the war on drugs

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Surely filming the moment a young boy is told he has lost his mother to drugs is reprehensible, yet Brenden Bickerstaff-Clark’s video has gone viral.  

The video, which has been viewed more than 200,000 times, shows a father sitting across from son at a picnic table, cigarette in hand.

“I got something I want to tell you, okay? Give me your hand,” he begins before pausing to collect himself. “Mommy died last night.”

 “What?” The boy asks after a moment of stunned silence.

“Mommy died last night, okay?”

“What do you mean- my Mom? How?”

“From drugs.”

It’s not the only stark depiction of the realities of drug addiction which has swept the internet recently.

Photos of parents passed out in their car after overdosing on heroin with their four-year-old boy looking on from the backseat made the rounds on social media sites. The photos were shared by a police department in Ohio.

Both the video of the boy being told his mother had died and the photos of the unconscious parents were shared to raise awareness and deter people from using drugs.

This emerging ‘trend’ of depicting the brutal reality of drug abuse is a new approach to a stubborn issue and may prove to be more successful than their staged counterparts.

Experts argue that our approach to dissuading children from trying drugs may be having the opposite effect. Carson Wagner, an Assistant Professor at Ohio University, argued that seeing anti-drug ads made some child

In his 2008 study, Wagner found that participants who were primed with anti-drug messaging were more curious about using drugs than those who hadn’t seen the ads.

This argument is supported by Melbourne rapper Matthew James Colwell (better known as 360) who recently revealed his battle to recover from methamphetamine was made more difficult still by the Victorian government’s anti-ice TV campaigns.

Colwell claimed the government “have zero idea that simply showing a picture of a pipe will have every addict itching.”

Raymond Blessing, TaskForce CEO, agreed that no good comes from the ads. “Our front-line staff say that the advertising demonises users, creates stigma and some clients say it gives them cravings. So it most instances they just wipe it away. It certainly doesn't appear to have any positive aspect; it just seems to create more of an issue for them about initiating cravings or causing that kind of activity in their mind.”


While the brutal images appearing on our screens may disturb and alarm the viewer, perhaps that’s what we need to win our war on drugs. 

Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

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