Trump administration launches 'scare' TV ads to fight opioid abuse

This is your brain on opioids.

While not explicitly stated, that's essentially the message the Trump administration is deploying in its initial anti-opioid ad campaign, which seeks to keep young adults from becoming dependent on the addictive medications.

The campaign, unveiled Thursday, stresses that dependence on opioids can happen after just five days and is based on the Truth Initiative's anti-tobacco campaign, which the group says has prevented more than 1 million young people from smoking during the past two decades.

It features four 30-second ads that tell the grisly, based-on-real-life stories of people who purposely injured themselves to get opioids after becoming addicted through prescriptions or recreational use. One spot shows a man who breaks his own back to get more oxycodone.

"That's the least expensive thing we can do, where you scare them from ending up like the people in the commercials," President Donald Trump said in March when discussing steps his administration would take to combat the opioid crisis. "And we'll make them very, very bad commercials. We'll make them pretty unsavory situations. And you've seen it before, and it's had an impact on smoking and cigarettes. You see what happens to the body; you see what happens to the mind."

Opioids are the main driver of overdose deaths in the U.S., killing more than 42,000 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Forty percent of opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription.

More on the opioid epidemic:

The Truth Initiative, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Ad Council are collaborating on the campaign. The ads will air on TV and online platforms and are part of a White House opioid-crisis response plan that critics have said has not been aggressive enough, though the government is expected to spend a record $4.6 billion this year fighting the epidemic, according to The Associated Press.

The White House said it would spend $384,000 on the ad campaign, the Washington Examiner reported. The initiative also will reportedly involve donated ad time worth at least $30 million.

Watch the first four ads here:

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