By GENNA FREED
In 2011, the Hancock County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board surveyed 18- to 25-year-olds and found that an overwhelming 78 percent believed that prescription drug abuse or misuse is inappropriate and unacceptable.
The board is building its new “I Am Enough” anti-drug campaign based on that finding.
“The ultimate goal is to raise that 78 percent,” said Zach Thomas, the board’s director of wellness and education, during a campaign kickoff event Saturday in Findlay.
“The ultimate goal is that people will come to feel and believe that who they are is enough, that they don’t have to do anything else to make them be better, and that they’re part of the majority, so they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do to fit in,” he said.
The board received a grant in 2011 from the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, called a state incentive strategic prevention grant. The purpose of these grants is to help a community work through a specific series of steps to determine what issues are most pressing.
Thomas said the board used the grant to survey community needs, and then did an additional survey on community readiness. The board discovered the community realized there was a problem with prescription drug abuse, but didn’t feel equipped to handle or address it.
“… We discovered that really the majority of our target population don’t misuse prescription drugs, and they see the misuse as unacceptable or that it poses a high risk,” Thomas said. “In the prevention world, the idea is working with social norms, and you work to change that norm, or work to promote it or encourage more to join the norm.
“Since we saw our norm was a majority who doesn’t misuse/abuse prescription drugs, we are going to capitalize on that and say, ‘Hey, you know what, good for you! There’s a majority of people that don’t do it and think the same way you do, so keep it going.’”
The hope is that through the campaign, those who are abusing or are at risk of abusing will feel the influence of that social norm.
Modo Media has been working for the board since January to develop the “I Am Enough” campaign. The campaign will exist mainly on social media, to reach the targeted age group, but a campaign launch party was held Saturday at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.
“The idea of today’s event is to introduce the campaign to everybody, so the entire community is aware of the message and they can then share the message with people they encounter within the target population,” Thomas said at the launch party.
“We’re doing a second kickoff in the fall on the University of Findlay’s campus so that we can reach those kids, because they’ve already left for the summer. We thought since the campaign is going to be active on a physical level at least until December, why not reintroduce it when those kids are back on campus?”
A secondary goal of Saturday’s event was to collect selfies from those attending. A photo booth was available, and the pictures will be uploaded to the campaign’s Facebook page and website. The photos are meant to show that these people “are enough” without the aid of drugs.
“I Am Enough” also is accepting selfies submissions through a number of social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or email.
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By GENNA FREED