Big brands that produce alcohol and tobacco products have seemingly unlimited marketing budgets. Watch TV, use the internet and social media, or just drive down the street and you’re exposed to content that makes smoking and drinking seem cool, or just ‘what people do.’ Try as they might, parents can’t shield children from all of these messages.

Compass Mark wants to make sure the community is getting the real message about addiction; that it is a disease, it is 100% preventable, and people can recover. Staff worked to secure funding specifically designated for reaching more people through a billboard campaign.

“We saw specific issues where we knew we could make an impact,” said Director of Operations Bevan Allen. “We requested funds from Lancaster and Lebanon Counties to create a billboard campaign around these topics.”

Not surprisingly, medical marijuana made the list. Allen offered a straightforward take on Compass Mark’s concerns.

“Medical marijuana is being marketed a little like a health food,” she said. “We want people to know that any substance comes with a risk to the individual.  Being prescribed by a doctor doesn’t make any substance a 100% safe, silver bullet solution.”

Another focus of the campaign is prevention, and giving the community direction on where to turn for help. Sharing the definition of addiction prevention can help someone see that with help and support, they could find a different path.

The third theme is simple, yet profound: hope.

“We simply want people to know there is hope for recovery. The message is ‘people do recover and go on to lead healthy, productive and fulfilling lives; and, most importantly, you can too,’” Allen said.

In addition to high density areas, boards are placed in smaller areas outside Lancaster City where Compass Mark believes it can reach people who might otherwise not be exposed to messages about prevention and addiction. So far, it’s working. A growing number of incoming calls have been directly attributed to the billboards.

The messages will soon get a boost in reach. Compass Mark will share their billboards with counterparts around the state. Allen said Compass Mark wants to stay ahead of pressing issues in prevention and addiction, like medical marijuana and the recent federal gambling ruling, and future campaigns will address these issues.