Anti-meth PSAs directed by Darren Aronofsky

And no, I don’t mean Requiem for a Dream. I realize anti-drug PSAs are rather played out by now, but I was impressed by the visceral power and realism of these. And if any drug deserves this kind of treatment, it’s meth – which actually makes this more plausible, rather than if they had tried to portray this as the logical endpoint of cannabis use.

Trigger warning for, you know, everything.

Anti-meth PSAs directed by Darren Aronofsky

23 thoughts on “Anti-meth PSAs directed by Darren Aronofsky

  1. 1

    Meth used to be my drug of choice, great for those long early morning commutes. On the other hand I made a gram last a year and a half. Lost contact with any reputable dealers and now make do with lots of caffeine.

    I’m not minimizing the damage meth can do, I just found it damn useful.

  2. 2

    I wonder about the usefulness of these kind of ads. In general I have a concern with over-dramatizing the effects of a drug. Yes, meth use could result in either of those situations portrayed. And if they’re to get people to read a more thoughtful account of the drugs great maybe that’s worth it. But what does that say to someone when they meet a meth user that is ostensibly under control, even charming. Maybe that those anti-drug people are full of shit, and unfortunately, they often are.

    Meth is a terrible drug, but in my experience its terribleness is not typically, or even often, so dramatic.

  3. 6

    It’s hard to see how meth can be “useful” when it keeps you up and really dumb and messed up for 3 days at a time, just to make you sleep for just as long (all that without food)… I hate how my brain works, but I can’t help pulling a “no true scotsman” on the 2 first commenters. I noticed many people confuse meth and amphetamines. Not that amphetamines are good, but they’re kind of the cocaine of crack. People can function on amphetamines. In my experience (which doesn’t mean that I’m right), people can’t function properly on meth. I’m not a pro, I’ve done it about a dozen times, but I have friends with permanent brain damage for only using for 6-8 months.
    But honestly, I’m not trying to dismiss your point, I hope my comment is not offensive. I’m just pretty curious. It could very well be that you found a way to use crystal meth in enough of a small dose for it to simply be a “boost”. I’ve just never heard of this, after having lived in a drug-soaked world for many years (not anymore).
    But I don’t know the effect of these ads either. My experience, as I said, is that they are pretty realistic (in a condensed manner). I was a heroin addict for many years, and if I’d seen an ad depicting way my old friends look today, I would have laughed it off. Now when I see an 18 year old shooting up for the first time, I feel like a hypocrit telling them about the dangers of what they’re doing. I know what they think, I thought the same back then. It took me 9 years to get a clue.

  4. 7

    This the same Aronofsky that signed the appalling petition in support of Roman Polanksi, right? I’ve lost the ability to watch anything by anyone on that list.

  5. 8

    Those things are freaky. I can’t handle watching them again. They also had some by Tony Kaye, the director of American History X, then some by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Wally Pfister. Such intense directors, really giving it their all.

    And to the poster who wondered as to their usefulness, these have been extremely effective. Anti-drug ads that focus on consequences and don’t dance around issues usually are.

    1. 8.1

      Salmo, if you can point me towards documents measuring the effectiveness of these kinds of ads, I would genuinely be interested in reading them. And this isn’t a trolling comment. I’ve become interested in sociology lately, and I would like to know more about how people make these kinds of difficult measurements.

      1. I don’t have access to any right at the moment, but I’ll look around. I read an article once comparing the style of PSA where they just say “Don’t do this: IT’S BAD” measured against ones where they show consequences, often graphically. Specific mention was made of the Montana Meth Project, and an anti-speeding ad from the ’80s that featured Christopher Eccleston laughing at a pair of bloody corpses. The difference between showing a frying egg and showing someone with meth mouth letting a middle-aged man rape her sister in a truck stop bathroom is pretty stark. It’s the reason DARE doesn’t really do much to help.

        I also read a report specifically on the Montana Meth videos noting how they use not just fear and statistics, but also provoke disgust, both emotional and physical, which causes an immediate alteration of behavior. When someone is offered meth, a list of facts can seem distant and unrelatable, but the thought of seeing someone shaking and vomiting all over themselves in a meth den won’t. No one ever didn’t do crack because Pee-Wee Herman told them not to.

        It’s the reason they got these directors who are so well-regarded for the visceral emotional impact of their work. They know just how to affect a human mind. And it does seem to work. Like I said, I don’t have access to the reports right now, but as I recall, while the number of habitual and chronic meth users has only gone down from a few points, the number of teens who have EVER used meth has dropped something like ten percentage points or more since the ads started running.

  6. MLR

    One of my favorite TV shows is Breaking Bad, and one thing I like about it is that it doesn’t try to shy away from how serious and damaging meth use is, even while it’s somewhat glorifying the moral failings of its antihero. There’s a really neat scene that reminds me a bit of this in the first season. One of the main characters (Jesse) is hanging out with his friends, and they ask him if he’s got any crystal. He tells them yes, but that he’s been trying to cut back since it’s been making him paranoid. After hearing that, his friends move to leave, and he caves under the pressure and breaks out his stash. The next scene shows him looking frightened while peaking out the window when he sees two men on motorcycles armed with weapons arrive. They start pounding on his door and he flees the house. It cuts back to the door knocking which is now much less serve, and after no one answers a pamphlet reading “Jesus Christ” is taped to the door. The camera then pans away to show that the bikers were actually door-to-door proselytizers on bicycles (not sure if that’s much of an improvement, haha). Granted, this scene is played for laughs a bit, but thanks to Aaron Paul’s great acting you really get a sense of the paranoia chronic meth use is known to cause. I noticed the comment here claiming the drug is “useful” and I suppose in some sense that’s possible. I seem to recall reading it was given to pilots in WW2 to keep them alert. But the problem with taking it for “alertness” is that chronic use requires more and more of the drug to get that same level of alertness, until eventually users are taking the drug not for a burst of energy or to feel high, but simply to feel normal. Then of course there’s the whole problem with dopamine depletion in the brain – chronic users have a hard time feeling much pleasure in anything, sometimes years after quiting. Those long-term side effects considered, it doesn’t seem very useful.

  7. 12

    I knew someone in the seventies who did speed, not even an addict and just up and killed himself for no reason. Pulled out a gun in front of the school nurse and blew his brain out. This is in addition to the few acquaintances I’ve lost to overdoses and traffic accidents. You couldn’t get me to do drugs for all the money in the world.

  8. 13

    Except of course these aren’t actually warnings about methamphetamine, because, as the pharmaceutical product Desoxyn, it can be prescribed for a number of conditions, one of them being ADHD. When used appropriately it is known to have significantly less problematic side-effects than other, more common amphetamine drugs, such as Ritalin.

    These types of fear-mongering videos may well scare the shit out of some kids and lots of parents, but it’s still primarily dependant on ignorance in order to get its message across. Once the barrier of fear is crossed by recreational drug use that doesn’t immediately result in the implosion of their life, young people will quickly dismiss much of what they had been led to believe by way of these scare-tactics.

    It is the misuse of a drug that is problematic and young people need to be educated about psychoactive substances in general, from Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine, the socially ‘acceptable’ drugs, to the illicit ones, such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin, not forgetting to mention the “They’re not drugs they’re medicine” pharmaceutical psychoactive drugs.

    You couldn’t get me to do drugs for all the money in the world.

    Really? I’d wager you’d have to work damn hard to find someone who has never consumed a psychoactive substance. Ah, hang on, you meant those ‘icky dirty’ illegal ones didn’t you. Yes, the above videos are for you, but then, you wouldn’t ever abuse illegal drugs in the first place, so as I said, they only tend to work on the already frightened and ill-informed.

    Young people tend to resent being fed over-simplified dramatics instead of, you know, actual information. It results in them wanting to experiment themselves to see what the real truth is. If they are ill-educated, misinformed or generally poorly researched about the subject, they are at great risk of harming themselves or others.

    1. 13.1

      “Really? I’d wager you’d have to work damn hard to find someone who has never consumed a psychoactive substance. ”

      You need to find a better crowd to hang with, because I neither drink nor use recreational drugs. I agree with you that the “abstinence only” drug info policy is off, but I think these particular meth ads are spot on.

  9. 14

    Yeah, I’ll just go right ahead and ignore your ‘special pleading’ fallacy. If you’ve drunk tea, coffee or coke you’ve consumed a psychoactive substance (caffeine). If you’ve taken any one of many thousands of different pharmaceutical substances you’ve consumed a psychoactive drug.

    As I already said, and as you have just demonstrated by way of your reply, these ads only appeal to the ignorantly fearful and misinformed.

    But, sure, let’s just keep the trillion-dollar ‘drugwar’ going, it’s clearly working to keep people off drugs. [/sarcasm]

    1. 14.1

      Yup. Crystal meth is no different than caffeine, you guys. Anyone who drinks coffee might as well be smoking meth because the mere fact that they both contain psychoactive drugs means that I, as a smug internet douchebag, can loftily claim that there’s no difference between them.

      1. A ‘smug internet douchebag’ you may well be, but that is not my concern. An ‘ignorant misinformed reactionary’, however, you clearly are and, until you, like ‘mimi’, are able to educate yourselves above the “Drug’s are bad, M’Kay?” level of knowledge when it comes to psychoactive substance use and abuse, both licit and illicit, you are patently unqualified to post on the subject matter.

        Anyone who drinks coffee might as well be smoking meth

        Yes, because that clearly is the point I was making when I highglighted the fact that Methamphetamine is *exactly* the same substance as the pharmaceutical product ‘Desoxyn’ and that the problem was not drug use, it was drug misuse.

        I mentioned caffeine because, for people as ignorant as yourself and ‘mimi’, there appears to be something of an epic degree of stupid when it comes to making statements claiming that you would ‘never do drugs’.

        I mean, srsly?

        I knew someone in the seventies who did speed, not even an addict and just up and killed himself for no reason

        That statement is so far beyond dumb it wound up in South Park.

  10. 15

    Watching each ad, my reaction was the same: leaning far back in my chair, eyes wide open. I was appalled – not in the “this shouldn’t be shown” rightwing mentality, but in the sense of “Yikes!” and that they were effective.

    Related to the two ads, I remember the song, “Just One Fix” by the group Ministry (from 1992) and its accompanying video. It depicted the effects of heroin use, written by “singer” Al Jourgensen who had personal experience with the drug.

    I’ll play along and say “trigger warning” for the video of the song.

    The video became a topic of controversy among rightwing and moralizing idiots. They claimed the video “glamourized” drug use. How exactly does vomiting blood, needles in arms, violence and living on skid row “glamourize” drug use? The idiots would rather pretend the problem doesn’t exist than address it. Then again, they are the same people who say addicts “deserve what they get” (re: HIV/AIDS, death, prison, poverty, and NO treatment).

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