The Utah Joint Methamphetamine Task Force is charged with addressing the methamphetamine epidemic in Utah and the other serious problems caused by meth use. During a recent meeting, the 34-member team developed a resolution and committed themselves to implementing a public awareness campaign to communicate the problems of meth use to the public. Prior to this unanimous decision, the team reviewed the public awareness campaign that was implemented in Montana, referred to as the Montana Meth Project. This campaign includes very graphic depictions and commentary about the effects meth has on the body, both physically and mentally, and that one "hit" of meth can quickly turn a life upside down. Research shows that the campaign has been extremely effective in accomplishing its four-fold mission.
The four goals set fourth by the committee in Montana were to increase the perceived risks of meth use, decrease the perceived benefits of meth (weight loss, popularity, more energy, etc.), increase parent-child discussions on meth and increase the social disapproval of meth use. The Montana Meth Project is only one of many public awareness campaigns the Utah Task Force will review prior to the development and implementation of a Utah-based public awareness campaign on meth. During subsequent meetings, the task force will continue to research the effectiveness of communication strategies in each of the campaigns that may be utilized as the committee works to develop messages that will work best to address the meth epidemic in Utah.
The meth epidemic in Utah is one dealt with primarily by county government--from law enforcement to treatment and environmental cleanup.
Whether it is a county sheriff's office, county courts, county health department, county substance abuse treatment programs or county correctional facilities, the county resources are being stretched as they address most of the elements associated with meth users.
It is due to this fact that Utah Association of Counties approached Governor Huntsman in 2005 to establish a joint task force of state and county officials and departments to approach the meth issue. For this purpose, the task force has come together and after several meetings the task force supports the concept of a traceable public awareness campaign that will affect the meth epidemic by addressing the harm caused by meth within our communities.
Although some of the task force members are hesitant to implement a public awareness campaign in Utah identical to the Montana Meth Project, the task force is currently in the research phase and will determine the campaign messaging that will be most effective in Utah.