We designed this book to tell the story of the mass media's potential in the war against drug abuse. The story is based on scientific evidence that has been gathered from the early 1920s to the present day. In the more than 80 years of scientific scrutiny, social scientists have learned much about the use of media in health promotion and disease prevention. The story is not one of uniform success. As in most fields of scientific endeavor, failure is a constant bedfellow, but the successes, when they occur, often help us forget earlier disappointments. The successes reported here are important, as is their potential application. Those interested in using the media for positive purposes or in learning about the media's potential in the war on drugs may find this book useful and informative.
Today, in the early days of the 21” century, we are witnessing one of the country's most intense exercises in the use of the mass media for the public good. The National Youth Antidrug Media Campaign has as its goal the elimination or minimization of illicit drug use in our young adolescents. Whether this immense campaign succeeds or fails rests, in part, on past knowledge and its current usage. As the authors of this book's many chapters will show, we know much about the effective use of mass media in persuasion—and it is persuasion on which most hopes for success in the antidrug media campaign rest. Every chapter provides information that the conscientious practitioner may use to maximize the persuasive effects of a presentation. We believe that the intelligent use of this information could have a material impact on the success of the antidrug campaign. This success will stand as an important service to the country as a whole, and will encourage social psychologists and communication scientists to engage in further prosocial applications of their trade. The potential use of this book is enormous, and we hope that the information it presents will be used as a foundation for further contributions to the society at large.