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The opioid crisis

Young people are particularly vulnerable to opioid misuse. Two decades of combating commercial tobacco use has prepared us to continue the fight and contribute to ending this epidemic by sharing our expertise in youth and young adult education and prevention.

The Truth About Opioids

In the U.S., 18-25 year olds have the highest rates of opioid misuse and young Americans are especially vulnerable to misunderstanding the risks associated with addiction and the dangerous spiral down from prescription to illicit misuse. Opioids are involved in nearly 3 in 4 drug overdose deaths, and dependence can happen in just five days.

Truth Initiative, one of the largest public health education organizations focused on youth and young adult prevention, is lending its expertise from its successful youth tobacco prevention efforts to help combat the opioid crisis and focus on youth prevention and education.

On June 7, 2018, after a year of formative work, Truth Initiative launched a public education truth prevention campaign, The Truth About Opioids, in partnership with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Ad Council. This Emmy award winning campaign is designed to help young people understand the dangers of opioid misuse and addiction and the role they can play in creating change.

Read more about our opioid work

Why Truth Initiative is taking on misuse prevention and education

Truth Initiative is uniquely qualified to make an impact on the opioid crisis given the recognition and credibility of the truth brand and our outstanding record of success in tobacco prevention and education.

Approximately 80% of U.S. youth and young adults under age 25 recognize the truth brand. Surveys of our target audience reveal that the majority of youth and young adults agree that truth should engage in educating the public about opioids.

Addressing youth and young adult opioid addiction and misuse is a natural extension of our anti-tobacco work. Evidence indicates that exposure to nicotine — a highly addictive substance — primes the adolescent brain to be sensitive to other addictive substances. Seventy-four percent of opioid users are current or former tobacco users.

Additionally, the Master Settlement Agreement, which created our organization, authorizes us to develop and disseminate “advertising and education programs to counter the use by youth of substances that are unlawful for use or purchase by youth.” While our efforts have exclusively focused on tobacco up until this point, we believe the time is now to expand our focus and address this immediate crisis, in addition to our work to end tobacco use.

Learn more about The Truth About Opioids

The difference Truth Initiative can make

The reasons for this crisis are complex. It is the result of pharmaceutical industry marketing, physician guidelines and prescribing practices, the regulatory environment, law enforcement, gaps in consumer knowledge, access to addiction treatment and popular culture influences.

We cannot tackle all of it, but we believe we can meaningfully contribute to the solution by influencing young people’s knowledge, attitudes and beliefs around the issue and, ultimately, impacting their behavior. This is the model that has proven successful for truth.

Given the toll of the national opioid crisis, its adjacency to our existing work and the authority within the Master Settlement Agreement, we believe we are uniquely positioned to educate youth and young adults about the risks of opioid addiction and misuse. A peer-reviewed evaluation of The Truth About Opioids determined that this type of campaign could potentially reach 54 million young adults and help increase knowledge and attitudes related to opioid use and dependence among 6 million young people.

Download the truth about opioids one-page overview
Opioids Pills and Bottle

Prescription Drug Safety: Know the truth

To help young people better understand and navigate the growing prescription drug misuse crisis in our country, Prescription Drug Safety: Know the truth educates middle and high school students about the facts, risks, and dangers of misusing prescription medications and counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. Prescription Drug Safety: Know the truth marks the second collaboration between Truth Initiative and EVERFI and is modeled after the success of Vaping: Know the truth.

Learn more about Prescription Drug Safety: Know the truth

Joining forces with partners

Media, corporate, nonprofit and government partners have joined us to take on opioid misuse education and prevention. The Truth About Opioids campaign, produced in collaboration with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Ad Council, is supported in donated media by top platforms, including Amazon, Facebook, Google, YouTube, NBCUniversal and Turner. Fortune 500 company Leidos is contributing to fund the research behind The Truth About Opioids, including foundational studies, continuous surveying and outcome evaluations, as part of its effort to play a role combating the opioid crisis.

Explore how you can partner with us to help end the opioid epidemic