Drug and Substance Abuse

Project Overview

In this project, you will have the opportunity to influence people by creating PSAs. You will create three separate PSAs, which will focus on the following topics:

  1. avoiding alcohol, tobacco, or drug use
  2. preparing for a natural disaster
  3. avoiding gang involvement and gang violence

Your PSAs can be presented in the form of a digital poster or a digital slide show. Each PSA should have its own page or slide, but all three should be in one file. Regardless of the form, each PSA must include

  • a memorable slogan that makes the point of the PSA clear
  • an image or graphic that fits the message of the PSA
  • at least three facts related to the message of the PSA
  • sources for the information used in the PSA

This project will span multiple units. You may find it easiest to work on each PSA during the unit that covers that information. If you have any questions along the way, do not hesitate to ask your teacher.

Project Details

This project has three separate parts. By the end, you will have completed three PSAs for three different topics (one PSA for each topic). 

For each PSA, you will want to choose a target audience. In other words, identify a high-risk group that your topic could benefit, and modify your message to attract those individuals’ attention and fit their needs. For example, teenagers are more likely to experiment with substances than older adults. Also, teenagers in urban areas are likely to be surrounded by more gang activity than teenagers in rural areas.

Before designing each PSA, you will need to research your chosen topics. This will help you identify a good target audience and provide useful information to that audience.

Before Moving On

The information you include in your PSAs must come from credible sources. Each PSA will need a Works Cited list. Do not hesitate to ask your teacher if you have any questions about how to document the sources used to create your PSAs.

Part 1: Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Prevention

This PSA should focus on prevention for one specific substance. You could choose to address alcohol, tobacco, an illicit drug, or the misuse of prescription medications.

As you think about your target audience and the message you would like them to hear, consider the following questions:

  • Who has the greatest risk for problems with the substance you have chosen?
  • What factors put those individuals at risk?
  • What negative effects does this substance have on communities and families?
  • How does this substance impact individual health, wealth, behavior, and well-being?
  • What are alternatives to using this substance or ways to avoid using it?

Use these questions to help you direct your message toward your target audience and address their needs.

Part 2: Natural Disaster Preparedness

Disaster preparedness strategies depend on the nature of the disaster. For this PSA, choose one specific type of natural disaster to focus on. Options include

  • earthquakes
  • flooding
  • hurricanes
  • tsunamis
  • tornadoes
  • wildfires

As you think about your target audience and the message you would like them to hear, consider the following questions:

  • Who is at greatest risk for this type of natural disaster? Does anything besides location influence that risk?
  • What negative effects does this type of disaster can have on communities and individuals?
  • How can people prepare in advance for this type of natural disaster?
  • What should people do to stay safe during this type of natural disaster?

Be sure to tailor your message to your target audience. A PSA for teenagers about earthquake safety would have a different tone and would contain different advice than a PSA for older home owners.

Part 3: Preventing Gang Involvement or Gang Violence

There are many different aspects of avoiding the dangers of gang involvement and gang violence. For your PSA, pick one aspect, such as ways to avoid joining a gang, strategies for leaving a gang, or ways to reduce violence for people already involved in gangs.

As you think about your target audience and the message you would like them to hear, consider the following questions:

  • What attracts people to gangs?
  • What is the best way to prevent youth from joining gangs to begin with?
  • What effects do gangs have on individuals, families, and communities?
  • Where are gangs the most prevalent?
  • What triggers gang violence?

Use these questions to narrow down your message to fit your target audience and to make sure the message aligns with their needs.

Project Tasks 

While each PSA focuses on a different topic, you will need to follow the same basic steps to create each PSA. You can structure your PSA development as you wish, but following these steps might help you stay on task and create a more polished product.

Step 1: Choose the Specific Topic for Each PSA

  • Identify areas of interest to you within each of the three broad project topics.
  • Once you narrow down your topic, do some research to identify the main issues related to that topic. You should be able to answer the specific questions listed in the “Project Details” section.
  • Write down the sources you have used to gather this information.

Step 2: Planning and Development

  • Identify your target audience. What population or group are you trying to reach with this PSA? What are specific ways you can reach that population?
  • Identify the message you want to your PSA to convey.
  • Develop the main slogan for your PSA. Look at examples of other PSAs to help with ideas. Make sure your slogan is catchy and memorable.
  • Choose the three detailed, relevant facts you want to include in your PSA.
  • Start drafting and editing your PSA.
  • Choose at least one relevant image or graphic that supports the message of the PSA.

Step 3: Check Your Facts

  • Make sure your facts are accurate.
  • Make sure your facts are from recent, reliable sources. For example, you should not use teen driving statistics from 1985 in your PSA targeted to drivers today.

Step 4: Make Sure Your Message Is Influential

  • Make sure your message is crystal clear. People should be able to quickly grasp the main point of your poster or slide. Providing too much or too little information will make it hard for people to get the main point.
  • Make sure your PSA includes an attention-grabbing slogan, fact, or image.
  • Make sure your PSA fits your target audience. The tone, language, and images should appeal to the age group you are trying to reach.

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