mtvU, Macklemore & More to Tackle Prescription Drug Abuse on College Campuses
Announced today from the 3rd annual Clinton Health Matters Conference, mtvU and The Jed Foundation's "Half Of Us" campaign, with strategic support from the Clinton Foundation's Health Matters Initiative, is debuting an initiative aimed at helping college students navigate the issue of prescription drug abuse on college campuses.
The effort leverages the power of real stories to illuminate the unintended consequences of prescription drug abuse and help college students who are overwhelmed and stressed realize there are better ways to deal with the pressure. Today, mtvU and mtvU.com debuted a series of short videos featuring college students from across the country candidly sharing their struggles with prescription drug abuse, and will continue to air stories throughout the month. Later this month, mtvU will air an exclusive interview with Grammy-nominated artist Macklemore - from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - revealing intimate details of his struggles with substance abuse and how he overcame it.
"I had an experience with drugs and alcohol that didn't work for me, that took away a fulfillment in my life," said Macklemore. "If I have a gift in any capacity with words and I don't use that power, I'm not doing my job. I know that people are listening. People can be inspired to change and become better people."
Every 19 minutes someone dies of a drug overdose in America, and most of those deaths are due to prescription drugs. Accidental prescription drug overdoses in the United States now kill more people than do heroin, crack, and methamphetamines combined. Additionally, the highest levels of abuse of prescription medications are among young adults aged 18 to 25.*
"Even one prescription drug overdose is too many, and when college students started asking mtvU to spotlight the issue, we realized we might be able to have an impact on this silent epidemic," said Jason Rzepka, Senior Vice President, MTV Public Affairs. "We're deeply grateful to the Jed Foundation, Macklemore and Clinton Health Matters Initiative for their partnership and excited to open a conversation with college students nationwide about the toll of prescription drug abuse and how they can overcome its siren song."
The spots rolling out as part of the campaign will show "The Other Side" of prescription drugs:
"Macklemore" - Macklemore describes his battle with prescription drug abuse, and the overwhelming effects it had on him, including depression, isolation, and creative frustration. He reveals never-before-heard details of his addiction and shares a moving story about a friend he lost as a result of a prescription drug overdose, in order to help college students overcome similar struggles. Macklemore is known for using his music to help create conversation about important social issues, such as marriage equality through his hit song "Same Love."
"The Other Side" - In a series of 11 spots, young people from around the country share their experiences and personal struggles with prescription drug misuse, revealing the harsh realities of taking prescription pills for non-medical reasons. Their powerful stories will not only illuminate the consequences they've faced, but will also provide meaningful advice on how to avoid the dangers of prescription drug abuse and how to help a friend who may be struggling.
In addition to the videos, "Half Of Us" today debuted a comprehensive, custom resource center offering students additional information on prescription drug abuse, helpful tips, and positive ways to cope with the academic and emotional pressures of college life. MTV will also spread the message via its social media platforms using a series of flat images and GIFs that shed light on the realities of prescription drugs, while providing positive alternatives and a connection to resources. All of the visual content will originate on the "Half Of Us" tumblr page.
College students are said to misuse prescription drugs for reasons including dealing with stress, fear of not fitting in, increasing competitiveness of college, anxiety, or for recreational purposes. Some of the most frequently misused medications among students include stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin and others) that are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy, central nervous system depressants (like Valium and Xanax) used for anxiety and sleep disorders, and opioid painkillers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin. According to ULifeline, some consequences of prescription drug misuse include serious health issues - such as changes in mood, decreased cognitive function, or coma - addiction, accidents, poor academic performance, and legal trouble.