The Ecstasy Campaign

The Ecstasy Campaign


In a relatively short period of time, MDMA – commonly called Ecstasy – had secured a prominent place for itself in the world of substance abuse. Teen experimentation with Ecstasy had increased by 71 percent from 1999 to 2001. Between 2.5 million and 3 million teens had tried the drug. Many voices advocating the use of the drug became louder, describing the drug as not only a “benign” drug but also as a drug with very positive benefits. And the majority of adolescents – 13 million kids – didn’t see a great risk in trying the so-called “love drug.” In addition, parents underestimated the level of teen exposure to Ecstasy. While 11 percent of teens had reported trying the drug, only 1 percent of parents believed their child might have tried the drug.


Based on research, including University of Michigan’s “Monitoring the Future” study, that clearly shows that the likelihood of using a drug is directly affected by how dangerous its use is perceived to be, The Partnership launched a campaign in 2002 to increase young people’s perception of the risks of trying Ecstasy and to build parents’ awareness of the drug into a deeper knowledge of the drug and to encourage discussion about Ecstasy with their children.

The multi-media campaign was distributed to national media outlets and more than 250 local media markets throughout the country.


Credible sources of attitude and use indicated that the Ecstasy Campaign had a positive effect on young people and parents’ attitudes of Ecstasy use. Ecstasy trial among
teens stabilized in 2002.

According to The Partnership’s Attitude Tracking Study, the perceived risk in Ecstasy trial and use significantly increased from 2001 to 2002. There were also significant and
dramatic increases in teens’ perceptions of specific risks of Ecstasy use. Many of these risks were addressed in The Partnership’s new Ecstasy campaign. Survey data found the
number of teens who said anti-drug ads gave them new information or taught them things they didn’t know about drugs increased from 36 percent in 2001 to 43 percent in 2002. The research showed stronger anti-drug attitudes among teens with higher
exposure to the advertising compared to teens with less exposure.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse survey, “Monitoring the Future,” in 2002, Ecstasy use decreased by about 20 percent in grades 8, 10, and 12. In 2002, perceived risk sharply rose by 7 percentage points. According to the researchers, the very sharp rise in perception of risk explained both the deceleration and turnaround in use.

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