New statewide ad campaign aims to reduce stigma surrounding drug addiction


A coalition formed to educate residents of central Ohio about the danger of opioids is spreading its message statewide with a new advertising campaign aimed at reducing the stigma surrounding drug addiction and mental illness.

The setting for the public service announcements is the fictional game show “Beat the Stigma”, where contestants come up with common misconceptions about what contributes to alcoholism.

The statewide initiative is the result of a partnership between the State of Ohio and the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance, which sponsored the two-year program “Don’t live in denial, Ohio” multimedia campaign.

The alliance, led by the Nationwide Foundation and formed by the Franklin County Alcohol, Drugs and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board of Directors in 2018, is a public-private partnership that includes more than 100 companies and non-profit groups.

“The point of advertising is to really focus on ourselves and any stigma we might have,” said Chad Jester, president of the Nationwide Foundation. “Take the camera away from people with mental illness or addiction issues.”

“These are diseases, they are not moral flaws.”

More than half of the people in central Ohio who saw the “Denial, Ohio” commercials told their children about opioid abuse and abuse and properly disposed of the excess prescription drugs, according to Jester.

While this campaign was limited to Greater Columbus, “Beat the Stigma” commercials will appear statewide on television, digital streaming platforms, radio and billboards later this month. . Information is also online at


The new campaign is the culmination of an “intensive research effort,” Jester said.

“We spent months talking to those affected. We talked to their family members and we talked to the general population of Ohio,” he added. “It has validated at all levels that there is an impact on those who suffer when others are stigmatized.”

“Beat the Stigma” will encourage Ohioans to consider their perspective on addiction, know their risk for addiction and take care of their mental health. As with the “Denial, Ohio” campaign, Jester said market research would be conducted after the new ads aired.

“We have a whole part of the campaign which will be an ongoing research around the validation of its functioning,” he said.

Ohio State committed $ 9.75 million campaign, according to a press release, and Wednesday’s unveiling marks the start of an effort to raise matching funds.

“Substance use disorders and mental health problems are not character defects,” Governor Mike DeWine said in the statement. “These are diseases for which people deserve treatment and support on their way to long-term recovery. This campaign is meant to break down all preconceptions and reduce stigma to encourage people to seek treatment.”

Greta Mayer, executive director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board for Clark, Greene and Madison Counties, said in the statement that reducing stigma can be as important as clinical treatment for people with addiction and mental illness.

“In our field, we often say, ‘The treatment is working. Recovery happens, “and it’s true,” Mayer said, “but the stigma prevents people from seeking treatment and achieving recovery. “

Jester said he also hopes the ads will help break down barriers for people with addictions and mental illness looking for work.

“Everyone is having a hard time hiring right now and there are people who want to have paid work but who may have a history of substance abuse – it’s an ongoing and long-standing battle – or mental health issues. where if we can really develop more understanding, empathy and non-judgment There are some great people that many of us could be looking to hire in our organizations as well, ”he said.

“From an employer’s perspective, it’s not just the private sector. It’s also government, education, the non-profit sector. We want the people of Ohio to be adopted and are part of our society in a healthy and productive way. “

Monroe Trombly is a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch covering the latest news and trends. He can be reached at or 614-228-6447. Follow him on Twitter @MonroeTrombly.

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