case study


A campaign to educate Vermont young adults about the risks and dangers of recreational opioid use.

Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole

The Party

The Party

The Challenge


High-risk young adults use opioids recreationally because they do not believe these drugs are dangerous.


Research shows that high-risk young adults (ages 18–25) often perceive opioids as carrying little to no risk for occasional, recreational use because: they lack knowledge about how opioids can harm them; they do not believe they are personally at risk; or they are in a social culture that accepts substance use.

Behavior Change Approach

Over the Dose is designed to increase knowledge and perceived relevance of opioid risks by providing a logical sequence of educational messages. By explaining first how opioids work, the campaign makes consequences seem more realistic and relatable. The digital ads focus on delivering new, relevant information to this audience in a straightforward manner that avoids sensationalizing consequences to more effectively dissuade recreational opioid use.

Audience Insights

Research shows recreational opioid users:

1) Often take pills, but do not know exactly what they are taking, or know that they may be taking opioids under a street name.

2) Commonly used opioids in conjunction with other substances, especially alcohol, yet do not understand the dangers of combining depressants.

3) Believe that heroin is too dangerous and avoid it, but perceive opioids as low-risk, revealing a misunderstanding of opioid risk levels.

Implementation Strategy
  • PAID SOCIAL AND DIGITAL MEDIA

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    While the opioid epidemic is often in the news, our at-risk audience is not seeking out health information about it. Our strategic paid social and digital media target high-risk young adults with eye-catching imagery and copy to spark engagement with the content in a relevant way.
  • INTERACTIVE WEB EXPERIENCES

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    A series of web experiences walk online visitors through information one piece at a time to ensure the audience interacts with the material.
  • VIDEO CONTENT

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    Opioid use and abuse is complex and requires more than just sound bites of information. Over the Dose videos tell a complete story about the risks and consequences of use.

Early Results


In the short time since Over the Dose has launched, we have seen 45% of homepage visitors complete the entire digital experience, which includes six educational modules and a final quiz. Visitors spend an average of four minutes on the site, which is roughly three times the industry average. On social media, we have seen engagement rates five times higher than industry benchmarks, and our digital ads boast a click-through rate of two times the industry average.