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Video of the Week: Darren Aronofsky and The Meth Project

The Meth Project

Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant drug that profoundly affects the brain. It causes the body to release 10 times its normal level of dopamine, the brain’s pleasure chemical. It also prompts a rush of norepinephrine, or adrenaline. Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug (a drug with a high abuse risk) and is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled. The crystalline powder is easily dissolved in water or alcohol and can be taken orally, intranasally (snorting the powder), by needle injection, or by smoking.

Approximately 13 million people 12 years and older have abused methamphetamine (also known as Crystal Meth) in their lifetimes . Meth use among youth is considered especially tragic because of the severe and often irreversible damage that the drug can cause, even to occasional users. Unlike users of other illicit substances, many Meth users experience permanent and substantial cognitive and physical damage. Meth triggers dependency faster than almost all other illegal drugs. It’s three times as powerful as cocaine and it is among the hardest drugs to permanently quit.

In 2005, The Meth Project Foundation was established by Montana tech billionaire Thomas M. Siebel in response to the growing Meth epidemic in the U.S. (especially in the Midwest and Western regions). The Meth Project is a large-scale prevention program aimed at reducing Meth use through public service messaging, public policy, and community outreach. Designed as an alternative to the buttoned-up ads of Just Say No and other bygone drug-prevention campaigns, The Meth Project enlisted the services of American History X director Tony Kaye to create a series of unsettling PSAs aimed at teens. The second wave of ads were directed by celebrated filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, Black Swan). Acclaimed Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams) and "Inception" Director of Photography Wally Pfister would follow Aranofsky and also direct PSAs for the oprganization.

Here are three of the PSAs directed by Aronofsky. After watching the first PSA, I felt as if I had just been punched in the gut. They are powerful, disturbing, and heartbreaking. But are they effective? You be the judge...

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