By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
FERNDALE – Armed with $36,000 in grant money, the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project is taking on one of the gay community’s biggest plagues in what it hopes will be a successful public smackdown.
No, not Focus on the Family. MAPP is aiming its campaign at crystal meth, and hoping to persuade current and potential users that “there’s nothing pretty about Tina.”
The campaign, funded by the Arcus Foundation, the Hope Fund and the Michigan Department of Community Health, has several fronts. One of them, a weekly support group to help people who are struggling with their addiction to the drug, began in November. Now, armed with enough funds for a six-month campaign and the results of extensive focus group surveys, MAPP plans to take on Tina with a media campaign consisting of print ads in LGBT publications and poster-size ads that will be displayed in the metro Detroit area’s gay clubs as well as turned into posters that can be displayed widely throughout the community.
MAPP Executive Director Craig Covey said that the four ads will concentrate on what people lose when they use crystal meth: their looks, their jobs, their friends and their families.
“We’re targeting people’s interest in looking good,” said Covey. During the December focus groups, Covey said, the agency learned that “looks were important to LGBT people and when they learned that meth damages your looks, that was a serious concern.”
In addition, Covey said, “One of the things we know about meth is that with use can come fairly quickly serious addiction, and with that addiction loss of friends, job and family.”
One former meth user, “Jack,” (who asked that his real name not be used) is helping MAPP with the campaign.
Of his three years using the drug, Jack told BTL, “Basically it’s a drug that you think you have control over and you actually don’t. It gets to a point where you want to be on it all the time. When you’re not on it, life’s just not all that fun.”
Jack said that while he was using, his weight dropped to under 100 pounds and his gums bled.
In addition, he said, “[I] lost my friends that didn’t do drugs, lost my family, and lost my apartment.” Though he said that he was unemployed during this time for other reasons, Jack told BTL that while on meth he also didn’t have the desire or ability to look for another job.
“I just used all my unemployment money on dope,” he said.
Asked what he would tell people who are considering trying meth, Jack said, “Don’t believe the hype. Just one use will hook you, [and] it will ruin your life.”
For more information about the anti-Tina media campaign, the weekly support group, or the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project, visit http://www.nothingpretty.org or call 248-545-1435.