'I'm on Meth' Anti-Drug Campaign in South Dakota Was Meant to Be 'Provocative,' Official Says

The South Dakota anti-drug campaign has people talking.
The campaign targets the state's growing drug problem. South Dakota Dept. of Social Services

The South Dakota anti-drug campaign has been vilified on social media.

An anti-drug campaign sponsored by the state of South Dakota has gone insane on social media, thanks to its title: "Meth. We're on It."

And much of the attention comes in the form of mockery and derision.

 The widespread needling is just fine with Laurie Gill, secretary for the Department of Social Services, which paid nearly $500,000 for the ad campaign. "We feel like we've gotten the nation's attention," she told InsideEdition.com Wednesday, and that's what she and her fellow state employees wanted.

They set out to produce a campaign that was "provocative and would stop people in their tracks," she said. They also wanted an educational effort that was different from all the other anti-drug ads. "At this point, we do feel we're busting through all of that," she said.

That is certainly true. 

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who took office in January, has made meth addiction a top priority.

"South Dakota's meth crisis is growing at an alarming rate," she said this week in a statement. "It impacts every community in our state and threatens the success of the next generation ... This is our problem, and together, we need to get on it."

In the state, the number of 12- to 17-year-olds who reported using meth in the last year is double the national average, according to a recent survey. The number of people seeking treatment for meth addiction has doubled from 2014 to 2018, according to South Dakota records.

"The statistics are alarming," Gill said. "The pressure it's putting on our society is great." Officials are trying to ascertain why young people are increasingly trying the heavily addictive drug, she said. Meanwhile, the state is putting more money into middle school drug education programs so that by the time students get to high school they will know what meth looks like, what it does and how to tell if someone is using it, Gill said.

The new ad campaign, which began Monday, features an older man, a high school athlete, a young girl and a Native American woman all saying they're on meth. 

The ads involved "using South Dakotans that obviously aren't meth users and saying 'yes, this is a problem and it affects all of us,''' Gill said.