Addressing the Issue of Drug Use in Media

Implementing Organization

This program provides journalists and media professionals with the tools to address issues related to drug use. The emphasis will be based on the use of images and messages that avoid the promotion of drug use, increase the perception of risk and reduce stigma, and that can promote the available alternatives for help. This project will develop a four-day training on addressing the issue of drug use in media specifically targeted at journalists since media plays a significant role in shaping public perception and attitudes towards drug-related topics. These types of trainings help journalists understand the complexities of drug use, addiction, and related issues while emphasizing responsible and accurate reporting.  


Journalism that recognizes substance use disorders as treatable health conditions will inspire conversations to will inform public perception, health policies and investment. Framing problematic substance use and substance use disorders as health issues and not moral failings will lead to greater compassion, public understanding and improved public policy. Part of the solution to address the drug use problem is change the narratives to include more stories about hope, about treatment and recovery, and about the evidence.  

Accomplishments to Date

New initiative 

Project Activities

In coordination with national drug entities, establish the selection criteria to select the participants    
    Perform a pre-test  
    Deliver the training during a four-day period 
    Perform a post-test 
    Prepare a training report indicating the methodology used in the training 

Global Level Outcomes
  1. Refrain journalists from using terms that perpetuate negative stereotypes or judgement through the four-day training.  
  2. Humanize stories by sharing personal experiences that depict the challenges and struggles faced by individuals dealing with substance use disorders.  
  3. Strengthen the collaboration between journalists and experts in the field of substance use, mental health, and public health to ensure accuracy in the news being delivered.   
  4. Counter misinformation and myths about substance use through factual reporting. 
National Level Outcomes
  1. Measure the impact of the training through a pre-test and a post-test that reflects an improvement in knowledge of at least 70%. 
  2. Encourage journalists to portray individuals dealing with substance use with empathy and understanding. 
  3. Emphasize the importance of accurate reporting by fact-checking and verifying sources when reporting on substance use related topics to avoid spreading misinformation. 

Current State Participants 

New initiative 


Andrea Escobar Senior Program Officer Demand Reduction Unit Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) Organization of American States (OAS) E-mail: aescobar [at] oas [dot] org (aescobar[at]oas[dot]org)