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Not even once.

The Meth Project (Initially the Montana Meth Project, later expanded to other states) is a non-profit organization known for its saturation-level advertising campaign aimed at teenagers, warning of the negative consequences of trying methamphetamines even one time. The television advertisements — at one point, there were 30 ads, at least from 2005-2012 — were spread out over several waves and used different approaches each time, but the common elements involve the deterioration of the teen's health, social and family life, living conditions and moral and social compass; many also use deep regret but a resignation to hopeless addiction.

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The waves were as follows:

  • 2005-2006: Directed by Tony Kaye
    • The most famous of the ads, titled Bathtub, begins with an attractive teenage girl taking a shower (before going to a party where she will be introduced to meth for the first time; she was supposed to be at a friend's sleepover), before a trickle of blood suddenly appears; she turns around and screams in fright as she sees a naked, pockmarked, bleeding version of herself shivering at the bottom of the shower, begging her "don't do it."
    • "Laundromat": A deranged man on a meth high bursts into a coin-operated laundry, beating several patrons and demanding money and threatening the mother while she's holding her infant child before running into a young man in the corner and grabbing him by the collar. Reveal that said young man — his last victim, to whom he screams, "This wasn't supposed to be your life!" — is the boy's pre-meth addicted self.
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    • "Just Once": Playing upon the false confidence that one can try meth "just once" and not suffer any consequences, the commercial follows the life of an attractive teenage girl who makes such declaration... only to fall into a life of theft and prostitution. At the end of the commercial, the girl's physical beauty is ruined, and she is in a drug-induced haze... unable to notice her pretty 12-year-old sister taking money and her meth stash and whispering, "I'm going to try meth, just once."
    • "That Guy": Also following the theme of false confidence and "I'm not going to be like that," a normal teenage boy makes said vow, pointing at an anonymous person who has already suffered the effects of meth addiction. However, the boy — in time lapsed video — eventually becomes "that guy," and in the end, becomes a dealer from whom a teenage girl buys her first stash. She makes the same declaration, pointing at the original boy.
  • 2006: Also directed by Tony Kaye, these commercials are an extension of the original wave.
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    • Two of the commercials — "Jumped" and "Crash" — play upon the Gospel lessons of Matthew 5 and Mark 9 (about how tearing your eye out or cutting off your hand, if they cause you to sin, and entering Heaven sans those body parts is better than keeping them and going to Hell), of how being brutally beaten in an empty parking lot or being paralyzed in a car accident would have been better than a lifetime of meth addiction, and that the aforementioned incidents happening to them would have prevented them from going to those parties where they would have used for the first time. The finale of both commercials show drug-hazed versions of themselves, the teens muttering only, "This is my life!"
    • "Junkie Den," where a young teenager takes his first hit and is greeted by various drug-addicted people describing, in graphic detail, what he can look forward to: Theft, random sex and so forth. The boy's cries that he swears he'll only try it once is met with mocking laughter.
    • "Everything Else," where her dealer shows her "everything else": intimidating "friends," rape, meth-addicted babies and physical ruination.
  • He takes care of me. (2007): Directed by Darren Aronofsky, these commercials play on the strong bond of family and friends, which deteriorate as users become more and more addicted to meth.
    • "Boyfriend," which begins in a hotel room, a teenage girl lying on the bed in her underwear and crying; look up to see a man in his late 40s/early 50s, dressed in a suit, zipping up his pants and walking out of the room, handing something — perhaps money or a drug stash — to a man waiting outside. Reveal that the other man is the girl's boyfriend. In voice-over narration, she explains her longstanding friendship. As the boyfriend enters the room and inspects the money that the man gave him, the girl cringes and continues to sob, her heavy mascara running and her face heavily pockmarked and bruised, possibly indicating that the older man raped her.
    • "Mother": As a young man narrates how he loves his mother, we see a teenage boy (the same person as the narrator) raiding his mother's purse. After she confronts him, he assaults her and shakes off her attempt to hang on to his leg.
    • "Friends": A teenage girl narrates how she is "tight with her friends" and that they always "look out for me." Some friends, though: We see that said girl is slumped over in the back seat of a car, having overdosed on meth, as her "worried" friends rush her to a health clinic and simply throw her onto the curve before speeding off, as a nurse and doctor rush outside to tend to the girl.
    • "Parents": A teenage boy on a meth high, whom we can presume had been kicked out of the house earlier, rushes to try to break into his parents' home. He screams run the gamut of, "I'm sorry, Dad!" to "I'm gonna kill you!", as his parents — whom can be seen through the picture window — are in tears as they decline to let him in. As the boy continues to kick at the door and try to break in, a voice-over by the same boy reveals that he had always been close with his parents.
  • This isn't normal, but on Meth, it is. (2008): Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, each of the commercials features the title tagline. The spots all feature teenage who appear normal and clean-cut at the beginning of the commercial, but by the end, despite time progressing normally, their faces are pockmarked and bleeding, dressed as slobs, etc., the effects of meth use easily apparent.
    • "Sisters": One of the creepiest of the entire set of ads, a 15-year-old girl approaches a group of young men, possibly in their mid-to-late 20s, and says "You can do anything you want to me for $50." The men look at each other with bemusement... and then focus on the other girl that has come with her; she's only 12 and the older girl's younger sister! "What about her?" the man says, pointing her out. The older sister hesitantly says, "Sure." The entourage enter a dingy bathroom, and the commercial ends with one of the men cornering the 12-year-old and removing his coat, and another man stroking the 15-year-old girl's hair.
    • "OD": The commercial begins with a group of kids peacefully watching TV (in a suburban bedroom) as their friend is seizing up on the floor. The scene immediately grows darker; the room is actually a dingy, roach-infested apartment, and the kids are too busy trying to get high to pay their "friend" any heed.
    • "Family": The beginning shows what appears to be a scene straight out of Leave It to Beaver: three clean-cut, well-dressed, smiling boys paying a friend a visit and politely ringing the doorbell to be let in. Once the woman of the house opens the door ... reveal that the whole thing is actually a home invasion as the boys burst violently into the house, assaulting both the woman and her husband before scattering through the house to steal everything in sight. The couple's young daughter enters the room and cries out for her father, but one of the boys threatens her before she drops to the floor in terror. The boys — now pock-marked and gaunt — eventually flee the house, plenty of electronics and valuables in hand.
    • "Shadow": An older teen named Anthony looks nervously into a bedroom room before he tells his mother, "Hey, they're out there." When she asks what he's talking about, he screams "THEM!!!" He goes to his room, retrieves a baseball bat and goes into a rage, throwing pictures off the wall, smashing trophies and going after his mother, screaming, "Who are you?" The mother flees in terror, locking herself in the study as Anthony — his face now with pock marks and shadows under his eyes, his dress shirt badly stained — smashes the bat against the door as he screams threats.
  • ...and this is what I said... (2010): This wave, directed by Wally Pfister, focuses on friends of meth addicts, telling how they watched their friends' lives get destroyed by the drug. After detailing about lost jobs, ruined family relationships and other terrible events, the teen telling the story appears on camera and, after saying "...and this is what I said, when they told me they were going to try meth" admit — through anguished silence — they said nothing (to wit: when they had the opportunity to stop their friend from trying meth, they chose to remain silent, thus weren't really their friends at all). The commercials are titled:
    • "Jessica," a former high school cheerleader who gets brutally raped by one of her drug dealers and later forces her little brother to smoke the drug.
    • "Ben," who survives an overdose but, still hopelessly addicted, kills himself.
    • "Tracy," who gives birth to a premature, meth-addicted baby.
    • "Kevin," who, after brutally injuring his best friend in a fight, is locked in a mental institution, still in near-constant psychosis. The scariest part? He uses a pair of scissors to mutilate himself, believing that insects are crawling out of him.
  • What do you know about Meth? (2011): Also directed by Darren Aronofsky, each of these spots begins with the narration, "If I had asked, if I tried meth, would I become an addict... " and a close up of an addict's drug-damaged face and slow-motion photography before pulling back to real time and showing a given situation.
    • "ER": A young girl is being rushed into an emergency room bay, convulsing and screaming in pain, as her friend — also an apparent drug user — can only watch. The commercial ends with the friend calmly walking down the hallway to a car waiting outside, buying another stash; her demeanor and that of her dealer is as though nothing is wrong.
    • "Deep End": A teenage girl is struggling with her mother at the sink. Reveal that she is bleeding into a water-filled sink basin in the bathroom... while on a meth high, she had just slit her wrists. The scene cuts as she swats at the camera (ergo, the viewer at home).
    • "Desperate": One of the creepiest of the entire series, this short begins with a 15-year-old boy ("can meth really change who you are?") removing his T-shirt... before revealing he is in a hotel room. He nervously sits on the bed and awaits a sexual encounter... only to reveal that he's not going to have sex with a totally hot babe... but a truly creepy-looking man in his early 30s! The man sits on the bed next to the now bare-chested boy, unbuckles his belt and begins gently stroking the back of the boy's head before the scene cuts to the Montana Meth Project logo... leaving to the viewer's imagination what happens next.
    • "Losing Control": Actually begins with a close up of a 10-year-old boy, whose older, drug-crazed brother — whose normal voice narrates this commercial and admits he never would have guessed he'd ever steal from his own family — has broken into his room, screaming and tearing apart everything and demanding money, the terrified brother unable to keep away.
  • Personal Stories (2012): Another series of testimonial commercials, this time from actual teenage meth users who describe family, criminal, social, health and physical consequences after trying meth. In a depature from the previous ads, each has surreal-like pencil drawings set to the story described. (Warning: Each video has graphic action):
    • Ashley's Story, where she cuts her wrists after believing insects are crawling out of her; she also comments on her physical appearance changing for the worse.
    • Bernadette's Story, which focuses on the guilt of having introduced her best friend to meth. After several days of using, the friend wants a hit but Bernadette selfishly refuses to share. But the shame is not in being selfish, but what happens next: Two days later, Bernadette says, she got a call from her friend's boyfriend, explaining that she had shot herself. (A stop-motion drawing of someone inserting the barrel of a gun into her mouth is shown.)
    • Hailey's Story: Her story focuses on the physical consequences: Lost her teeth and hair, facial sores and so forth.
    • Kara's Story: Who, during a four-day drug binge with her drug coven, overdoses. Her "friends" are too stoned to notice... but fortunately, a real friend does get her to the hospital where her life is saved. Kara later learns her heart beat very rapidly, stopping twice, and she was vomiting up her own blood; she sobs about possibly dying before her 16th birthday.
    • Oriah's Story: Oriah explains that he developed a violent temper and during one of his drug highs assaulted his mother. He adds that you can't take back something like that, and that he'll never forgive himself.
    • Rochelle's Story, from an ex-meth user who recalls seeing people and hearing voices that weren't there, just three days after her first high.

The campaign has two official websites: One one when it was just the Montana Meth Project, and another for the statewide Meth Project. The YouTube channel is here.

Tropes from the ads include:

  • Addled Addict: Everyone.
  • Adult Fear: This could be why this project is more memorable than other anti-drug ad campaigns. There's no spooky metaphors or monsters, just troubled teens harboring an addition that degrades their physical and mental health, leads them down a path of robbery and prostitution, and drives them mad enough to cut themselves open or threaten and forsake their loved ones.
  • Ax-Crazy: The campaign is not shy about showing meth addicts becoming more and more violent the more they take, towards strangers, friends, and even their own family members.
    • "Shadow": Anthony smashes several family photos and trophies with a baseball bat in a fit of paranoia, and eventually starts chasing his own mother with it.
    • "Family": Three teenage boys break into a house, rob the family living there, and beat up the parents in front of their crying daughter.
    • "Kevin": Kevin gets addicted to meth, tears open his skin with scissors to get rid of imaginary bugs, beats up his best friend, and gets locked in a mental institution where he spends 23 hours a day strapped down to a bed in an isolation cell.
  • Book-Ends: Both "Just Once" and "That Guy" begin and end with soon-to-be addicts claiming "I'm only gonna try meth just once".
  • Christmas Episode: "Parents" apparently takes place during Christmastime (you can see a Christmas tree in the living room), making the situation all the more tragic.
  • Descent into Addiction: A focal point of most of the ads.
  • Driven to Suicide: Outright stated in "Ben" and possibly in "Bernadette's Story". note 
  • Drugs Are Bad: Goes without saying.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Not when they're on meth, they don't, particularly in "Mother", "Parents", "Shadow", and "Oriah's Story".
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: More accurately, Meth addiction makes you a pockmarked wreck whose teeth and hair fall out.
  • Fan Disservice: "Boyfriend" features an attractive teenage girl in her lingerie... who just whored herself for drug money.
  • Future Me Scares Me: In the "Bathtub" and "Laundromat" videos, two young, healthy teenagers are confronted by their future, meth-addicted selves, warning them not to take that first hit.
    Male meth addict: (after violently robbing a laundromat) THIS WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE YOUR LIFE!
    Female meth addict: (covered in sores and pockmarks, sobbing and whimpering) Please! Don't do it!
  • Harmful to Minors: "Just Once", "Sisters", and "Jessica" all involve kids young as 10 or 12 being exposed to meth.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: Teenage meth addicts are shown scratching themselves bloody, pimping themselves out (and in some cases, their younger siblings), breaking into and robbing houses, and assaulting their family members, all so they can get their next high.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: "Just Once" and "That Guy" start with teens insisting that they'll only try meth just once. Sure enough, they have fallen into addiction, and are there when someone else insists the very same thing.
  • Little Brother Is Watching: Little Sister is Watching: In the end of "Just Once". Unfortunately, the older sister is to blitzed to notice...
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Trying meth, naturally, though the regret is only really shown in the first two waves and the Personal Stories. For the teens in Wave 5, their regret is in not doing anything to stop their friends from trying meth.
  • My Greatest Failure: Trying meth, naturally, though the regret is only really shown in the first two waves and the Personal Stories. For the teens in Wave 5, their regret is in not doing anything to stop their friends from trying meth.
  • Public Service Announcement
  • Scare 'em Straight: Again, goes without saying.
  • Sex for Services: "Boyfriend", "Sisters", and "Desperate" take this to rather creepy levels.
  • Signature Sound Effect: The sound of cracking ice that accompanies the "Meth. Not even once." logo at the end of each video.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Especially if they're on meth.
  • Tempting Fate: "I'm only gonna try meth just once. I'm not gonna be like that guy."
  • Tragedy: There's no happy endings here. Even the teens who overcame their addictions have to live with the shame of what happened back then.
  • Truth in Television
  • Too Dumb to Live: The little sister at the end of "Just Once". You'd think seeing what has become of her older sister would dissuade her from trying meth...
  • Would Hurt a Child: As seen in "Family" and "Loosing Control", no-one is safe from a meth-addicted teen desperate for drug money.
  • Your Makeup Is Running: In the end of "Boyfriend".

Alternative Title(s): Montana Meth Project

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