Positive messages about healthy behaviors change conversation around substance abuseNovember 18, 2016
Tobacco and drug use among Alaska Native people have been on the decline for many years, but there continue to be challenges to motivate people to quit and remain nonusers. To promote a unified message that celebrates the healthy choices that our people make every day, ANTHC recently launched the “We Are” media campaign, targeting Alaska Native and Native American people aged 11 to 25. The campaign is based on social norms theory, which shows much of people’s behavior is influenced by their perceptions of what is “normal” or “typical.” The challenge is that we often misperceive the typical behaviors or attitudes of our peers. We tend to overestimate the number of our peers who value and make unhealthy choices, and underestimate the number who value and make healthy choices. For example, if people believe that the majority of their friends are drinking alcohol and/or using drugs, then they are more likely to drink alcohol and/or use drugs. However, a majority of Alaska Native people around the state do not engage in unhealthy activities. More than half of Alaska Native people report they do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco and 85 percent of Alaska Native and American Indian people do not use illegal substances. Using positive social norms, our goal is to change the conversation about healthy behavior among Alaska Native people by highlighting the actual healthy behavior alternatives that Alaska Native people choose to engage in. This statewide media campaign includes video, radio and social media components. To see the videos celebrating the scholars, teachers, providers, artists and athletes in our communities, or to find more information on resources that support a healthy life, visit anthc.org/weare.