Drugs, Money, and Graphic Ads: A Critical Review of the Montana Meth Project
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- Erceg-Hurn, D.M. Prev Sci (2008) 9: 256. doi:10.1007/s11121-008-0098-5
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The Montana Meth Project (MMP) is an organization that launched a large-scale methamphetamine prevention program in Montana in 2005. The central component of the program is a graphic advertising campaign that portrays methamphetamine users as unhygienic, dangerous, untrustworthy, and exploitive. Montana teenagers are exposed to the advertisements three to five times a week. The MMP, media and politicians have portrayed the advertising campaign as a resounding success that has dramatically increased anti-methamphetamine attitudes and reduced drug use in Montana. The program is currently being rolled out across the nation, and is receiving considerable public funding. This article critically reviews the evidence used by the MMP to claim that its advertising campaign is effective. The main finding is that empirical support for the campaign is weak. Claims that the campaign is effective are not supported by data. The campaign has been associated with increases in the acceptability of using methamphetamine and decreases in the perceived danger of using drugs. These and other negative findings have been ignored and misrepresented by the MMP. There is no evidence that reductions in methamphetamine use in Montana are caused by the advertising campaign. On the basis of current evidence, continued public funding and rollout of Montana-style methamphetamine programs is inadvisable.