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Top Five Most Powerful Anti-Drug Ads of All Time

Most people get annoyed with commercials, especially if they involve telling us what we should and should not do with our life. But not all commercials are obnoxious.

Believe it or not, some commercials actually serve an educational purpose. For example, anti-drug ads have made powerful statements about the dangers associated with drug use. One result of these persuasive messages is over the years teen drug use has been declining. So the power of a good advertisement can positively impact people and stick with them for life.

One result of these persuasive messages is over the years teen drug use has been declining. So the power of a good advertisement can positively impact people and stick with them for life.– Raychelle Lohmann Odds are you can recall an anti-drug ad from your childhood that made an impact, and possibly made you think twice about using drugs. This is especially true if you grew up in the 80’s when the U.S. government declared a “war on drugs” and campaigns like “Just Say No” to drugs, and programs like D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) made their debut.

To many of us, PSA’s from this era are as much a part of our memory bank as “Tom and Jerry” and “Scooby-Doo”. Their message was loud and clear, “Stay away from drugs!”

Anti-Drug PSAs: Past and Present

Take a look at the some of the most popular anti-drug PSAs – from present to past – and see if it jogs a memory:

PSA #5   Emojis – #WeGotYou

Coming in at number five is an emoji PSA sure to be the wave of the future. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids recently launched the world’s first anti-drug emoji PSA.

For today’s teens, emojis are a common part of everyday language, so what better way to reach them than to speak in their language #wegotyou? Check out their site at

PSA #4   Pee Wee Herman

Remember Paul Rubens who played the character of Pee-wee Herman? His notorious nasal voice and high pitch laugh echoed in many households in the late 80s and 90s on Saturday mornings. But do you remember the awkwardly weird PSA he made about the dangers of using crack cocaine?

PSA #3   I Learned It From Watching You!

This iconic PSA made its first appearance in the late 80s. It features a teen boy hanging out in his room when his dad confronts him about the weed he found. His dad also wants to know where he got it and how he learned how to use it.
That’s when the punch line happens, the son looks straight at his father and says: “I learned it from watching you.”

PSA #2   This Is Your Brain – Part II

In the late 90s Rachael Leigh Cook revives the classic PSA “this is your brain” with a startling twist. She takes an egg and says, “this is your brain.” She lifts a frying pan with the words, “this is heroin.” Calmly, she places the egg on the counter and says, “this is what happens to your brain after snorting heroin.” Next she aggressively smashes the pan on the egg and says, “and this is what your body goes through,” referencing the goopy egg which is running down her arm.

Rachael then lets her viewers know “It’s not over yet,” and proceeds to smash everything in the kitchen with the pan, saying, “And this is what your family goes through! And your friends! And your money! And your job! And your self-respect! And your future!” She concludes with “And your life.” She then drops the pan in the demolished kitchen, and says, “Any questions?”

PSA #1   This Is Your Brain – Part I

Coming in at number one is the infamous “This is Your Brain” commercial. Do you like your eggs over easy or scrambled?

Who could forget the image of an egg hitting a searing hot pan and the crackling of it frying against the blazing surface? The messenger made it loud and clear that the egg was your brain and the frying of it happens when you take drugs. “Any questions?”

Hands down this late 80’s and early 90’s PSA was probably one of most impressionable and best anti-drug ads of all time.

The Impact of PSAs

And there you have it, the top 5 drug awareness ads to date. From sizzling eggs to icons depicting feelings. Each of these ads promotes a very important message: Don’t mess with drugs.

Unfortunately, teens today are not seeing as many drug awareness ads as they did in the past. This is, in part, due to funding issues.

According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, a long-running survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only 32% of 8th graders reported seeing weekly anti-drug ads last year, compared with 76% in 2003.
Fortunately there are some wonderful organizations – like the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids – that continue working hard to bring drug awareness to today’s youth. They are even trying innovative ways to reach the nation’s youth and let them know they “get” their world.

While PSAs are a great way to get the anti-drug message out, they will never replace the important conversations that need to happen in our own homes. Start educating your child today about the dangers associated with drug use. As a parent and role model, your actions and words will far outweigh the influence of any educational advertisement.

What’s your favorite drug awareness PSA? Share it with us in the comments section.

Image Courtesy of Pixabay