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Ad campaign launched to combat meth use in Indian country

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske recently unveiled a new anti-methamphetamine ad campaign tailored for Indian country, launched in New Mexico and in 14 other states with the largest Native American populations.

According to national data, meth use rates for American Indian/Alaska Native populations remain among the highest of any ethnicity – almost two times higher than other groups, according to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Specifically, American Indians or Alaska Natives are almost twice as likely to have used meth in the past year than whites (1.1 versus 0.6 percent) or Hispanics (1.1 versus 0.6 percent), and approximately five times more likely to have used meth than African-Americans (1.1 versus 0.2 percent).

“The data about methamphetamine abuse in the Native American community are troubling,” Kerlikowske said. “This ad campaign will supplement the important work for prevention and treatment already being done by the Native American community, local prevention groups, law enforcement and treatment providers.”

The Native American Anti-Meth Campaign, in its third year coordinated by ONDCP’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, is the only national anti-meth advertising campaign tailored to reach both youth and adults in Indian country and Alaska Native lands. The campaign includes TV commercials, print and radio ads, and billboard advertising in 15 states including Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Wyoming, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Utah. The ads will run until August, and Native groups and others can download and use the ads as free PSAs in their local communities.

The advertising builds on Native American culture and pride. For youth, the advertising materials have a unifying, empowering message celebrating Native American culture and giving them reasons not to use meth. For adults and elders, the materials encourage them to take appropriate steps to protect their children. The campaign was developed through comprehensive research and testing with members of the target audience – adults and elders on Native lands in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico and South Dakota. The research was conducted with help from the Native Wellness Institute and the advertisements were developed by a Native-owned advertising agency, Alternative Marketing Solutions.

“This ad campaign is very important to Indian country,” said U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry EchoHawk. “Drug abuse is always a disturbing issue to confront for any community, and methamphetamine abuse is something we need to address with an aggressive approach.”

“We are so pleased to be working together with ONDCP’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign and leaders from Native American organizations on this important initiative to reach out to Native teens around the country,” said Joe Garcia, vice chairman of the National Congress of American Indians. “This is an opportunity to initiate community-wide conversations about issues of crucial importance to our families, including substance abuse.”

Meth is an addictive stimulant drug that can be taken orally, injected, snorted, or smoked. Often called “speed” or “ice,” meth is available as a crystal-like powdered substance or in large rock-like chunks. Meth users are prone to violence and neglectful behavior that can affect their children and neighbors. The chemicals used in meth production are flammable and highly toxic, posing a threat to both the environment and residents.

For more information about the Native American Anti-Meth Campaign, to view advertising and other resources, visit

Since its inception in 1998, the ONDCP’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has conducted outreach to millions of parents, teens, and communities to prevent and reduce teen drug use. Counting on an unprecedented blend of public and private partnerships, nonprofit community service organizations, volunteerism, and youth-to-youth communications, the campaign is designed to reach Americans of diverse backgrounds with effective anti-drug messages.