Initially, the MMP was privately funded, but it has since received millions of dollars in state and federal funding because it's promoted as a major success to policy makers and the media. However, the review found that those in charge of the MMP emphasized only positive findings and overlooked the numerous negative results when touting the program.
The program and public funding should be put on hold until further research can determine its effectiveness, said review author David Erceg-Hurn, who's currently completing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Western Australia. He dismissed claims that MMP has reduced meth use in Montana.
"Meth use had been declining for at least six years before the ad campaign commenced, which suggests that factors other than the graphic ads cause reductions in meth use. Another issue is that the launch of the ad campaign coincided with restrictions on the sale of cold and flu medicines commonly used in the production of meth. This means that drug use could be declining due to decreased production of meth, rather than being the result of the ad campaign," Erceg-Hurn said in a Society for Prevention Research news release.
He also attacked the theory underlying the MMP's graphic ad campaign.
"The idea behind the ad campaign is that teenagers take meth because they believe it is socially acceptable, and not risky, and the ads are meant to alter these perceptions. However, this theory is flawed because the Meth Project's own data shows that 98 percent of teenagers strongly disapproved of meth use and 97 percent thought using meth was risky before the campaign started," Erceg-Hurn said.
The study was published in the December issue of the journal Prevention Science.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about methamphetamine.
SOURCE: Society for Prevention Research, news release, Dec. 11, 2008