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Fighting Health Battles with Our Clients

In 2016, nearly 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses; roughly two-thirds of these deaths involved prescription or illicit opioids, such as heroin or fentanyl.

Decades in the making, the opioid epidemic is at crisis level. But what many people don’t realize is the complexity of the problem.

There is a major stigma surrounding addiction. Education is crucial – and it’s an immediate need. There’s also perception and behavior change, which is a much longer-term commitment. Policies and best practices are evolving constantly as new data emerges.

Drawing from our extensive work with addiction in the public health arena in Montana, Indiana, Hawaii and West Virginia, Asher has been at the forefront of this issue from a communications standpoint. Strong communications efforts are needed in many areas, especially these three categories:

  • Education and Awareness: Messaging addresses: Addiction is a Brain Disease/Fight Stigma; What is an Opioid?; Addiction Can Happen Fast; and What Addiction Looks Like
  • Prevention: Messaging targets: Youth & Young Adults; Parents & Guardians; Special/Priority Populations; Patients with Legitimate Need/Prescription Opioids; and Medical Professionals
  • Treatment: Messaging communicates: There is Help/Treatment is Available; There is No Shame in Seeking Help/Fight Stigma; Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the Standard of Care, and MAT Can Give You Your Life Back & Curb Withdraw Symptoms

Asher has a proven track record in all these areas – and our work continues. In March 2019, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services completed an epidemiological evaluation of Asher’s “Opioids Awareness” campaign, the first campaign of its kind in the state. The impressive findings included:

  • Achieved 9.9 million impressions
  • Roughly 50% of those exposed to the campaign STRONGLY AGREED that Montana has an opioid problem (compared with only 31% of those who did not see the campaign)
  • 70% of those who saw the TV commercials remembered details of the ads
  • 40% of those who saw social media ads and 32% who saw TV commercials said the ads changed their perception of opioids
  • Cumulatively, results suggest campaign ads are creating awareness and the potential for prevention in the state

Check out the full Montana Case Study here.

We are proud of the work we’ve done and the work we continue every day. This is an important fight. We’re in it – with our clients – to win it.

Written by Shannon Simon, Asher Agency Strategic Communications Director

More of our thoughts

As we bid farewell to 2023, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the incredible journey we've had as an agency this year.