A public advertising campaign aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic is scheduled to begin airing on TV and social media outlets in Rhode Island later this month.
The local campaign – announced Thursday by Governor Gina Raimondo’s overdose-prevention task force – was created by the Truth Initiative, a nonprofit best known for its aggressive anti-tobacco ads.
The ads focus on the overuse or misuse of prescription opioids and the problems of over-prescribing and lack of proper warnings that leave young people vulnerable to addiction.
The nonprofit used research partially conducted in Rhode Island to create the national public prevention and education campaign, which launched nationally last week by the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Ad Council.
“It is critical that we communicate to individuals, families, and communities about what they can do to prevent prescription opioid misuse and dependence,” Rhode Island’s health director, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, said in a statement. “Something as simple as a conversation can be powerful enough to save a life.”
The Rhode Island campaign cost about $600,000 which was paid for through private donations, according to Andrea Bagnall-Degos, a state health department spokeswoman. Rhode Island is currently the only state “to invest in a significant local media buy to ensure greater reach and frequency of these campaign messages,’’ the health department said in a statement.
In Rhode Island, 323 people died of accidental drug overdoses last year, down from 336 deaths in 2016. The number of opioid-related overdoses last year dipped to 281 deaths, compared with 285 in 2016, state health data shows.