South Dakota’s ‘I take meth’ anti-drug campaign was meant to be ‘provocative’, official says

A state-sponsored anti-drug campaign in South Dakota has gone wild on social media, thanks to its headline: “Meth. We’re on It.”

And much of the attention comes in the form of mockery and derision.

The widespread needling suits Laurie Gill, secretary of the Department of Social Services, who paid nearly $500,000 for the ad campaign. “We feel like we got the nation’s attention,” she told on Wednesday, and that’s what she and her fellow state employees wanted.

They set out to produce a campaign that would be “provocative and would stop people in their tracks”, she said. They also wanted an educational effort unlike any other anti-drug ads. “At this point, we feel like we’re going through it all,” she said.

It is certainly true.

Republican Governor Kristi Noem, who took office in January, has made meth addiction a top priority.

“The methamphetamine crisis in South Dakota is growing at an alarming rate,” she said in a statement this week. “This impacts every community in our state and threatens the success of the next generation… This is our problem, and together we must tackle it.”

In the state, the number of 12- to 17-year-olds who reported using meth in the past year is double the national average, according to a recent survey. The number of people seeking treatment for methamphetamine addiction doubled from 2014 to 2018, South Dakota records show.

“The statistics are alarming,” Gill said. “The pressure this puts on our society is great.” Officials are trying to determine why young people are increasingly trying the highly addictive drug, she said. Meanwhile, the state is investing more money in college drug education programs so that by the time students get to high school, they know what meth looks like, what it does, and how do you know if someone is consuming it, Gill said.

The new ad campaign, which debuted Monday, features an older man, a high school athlete, a young girl and a Native American woman all saying they take meth.

The ads involved “using people in South Dakota who are obviously not meth users and saying, ‘yes, this is a problem and it affects all of us,'” Gill said.


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