The UK government have launched a campaign to warn 11-15 year-olds about the dangers of cannabis, using an ironic and lighthearted website and advert.
They’re both based around the concept of a high-street retailer for new brains. Teenagers who have trouble with their brains due to cannabis use can trade theirs in for new models.
These include the ‘Freakout-Free X50’ (Free yourself from paranoid freakouts once and for all with this little beauty!) and the ‘Spewstopper’ (Whether smoking a spliff or a bong, say no to embarrassing puking sessions!).
The comical tone is obviously meant to connect with teenagers who are immune, on principal, to dire warnings about partaking in illegal drugs.
Two UK mental health charities have criticised the adverts for not warning about the more extreme and unlikely outcomes of cannabis use (such as schizophrenia) and even for potentially increasing the popularity of cannabis.
Actually, it seems that the adverts are focusing much more on the short-term unpleasant effects, perhaps, as these are the least socially acceptable among teenagers.
Maybe this is in the hope that this will reduce consumption and have a knock-on benefit for mental health.
Like many drug campaigns I remember from teenage years, my concern is that this campaign is still a little unbalanced.
I suspect not describing the positive as well as the negative aspects of drugs leads people to disbelieve most things they’ve heard from a particular source if they subsequently take something and thoroughly enjoy themselves, contrary to the ‘received wisdom’.
This is purely speculation on my part, however, as I’ve had little luck tracking down relevant research, so the results of any studies on the effectiveness of different types of drug education would be particularly interesting and gratefully received.
Link to Brain Warehouse website.