The Montana Meth Project campaign aims to reduce teen meth use, and while its creators say it is successful, research suggests a more complicated result.

Article at a Glance:

  • The Montana Meth Project began as a campaign to reduce meth use among teens, after increases in use of the drug in the state.
  • While the group behind the Montana Meth Project has concluded that their campaign has been an overwhelming success, research suggests that declines in meth use in the state may not be a result of the project.
  • Some research suggests that strategies like the Montana Meth Project are actually harmful because they stigmatize addiction.

Meth in Montana

As the name indicates, the Montana Meth Project began in Montana, where there has been a slight increase in methamphetamine use among adults since 2015, according to data from Montana’s State Epidemiology Outcomes Workgroup. Montana is also a part of the Western United States, a region with higher rates of methamphetamine use than the rest of the country.

According to the Montana Meth Project, some social costs of meth use include the fact that 53% of children in the state in foster care are there because of meth, and 20% of adults in treatment are receiving care for methamphetamine abuse. Half of the state’s adults in prison are incarcerated because of a crime related to meth, according to the project.

Prevention 101: Know the Risk Factors →

What Is The Montana Meth Project?

The Montana Meth Project is a large-scale undertaking that aims to prevent teens from using meth for the first time. The project seeks to achieve its goals through a combination of public service announcements and messages, public policy and community outreach.

The mission of the Montana Meth Project is to create an effective prevention model for drug abuse that can be replicated nationwide.

One of the key resources teens and their parents can utilize is the website, which provides approachable research and relevant information.

The project has been cited by the White House as a model for future related projects in the U.S. because of its reported effectiveness.

How Effective Is the Montana Meth Project?

According to the group behind the Montana Meth Project, they have been credited with helping produce significant declines in the use of the drug, and they were named the third most effective philanthropy in the world by Barron’s.

According to the Project, since its introduction, there has been a 77% reduction in first-time teen meth use, and the lowest ever rate of meth use reported among Native American teens.

According to a research report in Stanford Law & Policy Review, The Montana Meth Project was successful in reaching its goals. After its induction, there was a sharp decline in teen meth use. In addition, the number of workers testing positive for meth during workplace screenings dropped by 72% in the years after the Project began, while meth-related crime declined by 62%.

According to researchers, the Montana Meth Project expanded to seven other states due to its apparent success. These seven states followed the same model that the Montana Meth Project used. However, these researchers have cautioned that the effects of the Project were minimal, especially since there was already a downward trend in meth use when it began. To attribute all declines in local meth use and meth-related crime to the Montana Meth Project may not be accurate.

While the project started out with private funding, legislators in Montana decided to contribute public funding after the program experienced perceived success. However, that did create some controversy, because opponents of the Montana Meth Project feel that media campaigns aren’t necessarily effective, and the success of the Meth Project isn’t well-proven. In fact, research has shown that people with substance use disorders find images used by the Project to be rather dramatic. Furthermore, the message of the campaign has been found to be stigmatizing toward drug use, which may deter people from seeking much-needed treatment.

Research-Based Meth Prevention Messaging

The Montana Meth Project uses an approach that they describe as “research-based messaging campaigns.” To do this, they conduct surveys and focus groups that show them what people think and feel about meth and then drive their messaging forward with that research.

The project has been in place since 2005, and the overall objective is to provide education to teens early and often. was put in place to provide a multimedia experience that answers questions teens might have about meth and its effects. then builds on that information with TV, radio and print ads, as well as digital and social campaigns.

Additional Resources on Meth Prevention

The following resources can provide additional information on meth prevention:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): SAMHSA publishes a variety of public messages surrounding prevention and positive mental health.
  • NIDA for Teens: The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) publishes information on the dangers of meth and other drugs.
  • Red Ribbon Campaign: This campaign is the nation’s largest drug prevention effort.

If you or a loved one are concerned about meth use, life-saving help is only a phone call away at The Recovery Village. Contact us to learn more about our nationwide network of facilities, each dedicated to providing a safe, effective road to recovery from meth addiction.

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Editor – Erica Weiman
Erica Weiman graduated from Pace University in 2014 with a master's in Publishing and has been writing and editing ever since. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Jenni Jacobsen, LSW
Dr. Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker through the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. She has over seven years working in the social work field, working with clients with addiction-related and mental health diagnoses. Read more

Anderson, D. Mark. “Does Information Matter? The Effect of t[…]th Use among Youths.” Journal of Health Economics, September 2010. Accessed October 30, 2021.

Erceg-Hurn, David M. “Drugs, money, and graphic ads: a critica[…]Montana Meth Project.” Prevention Science, December 2008. Accessed October 30, 2021.

Montana Meth Project. “About Us.” Accessed October 30, 2021.

Montana Meth Project. “Homepage.” Accessed October 30, 2021.

Montana State Epidemiology Outcomes Workgroup. “Summary of Methamphetamine Use in Montana.” August 2020. Accessed October 30, 2021.

Siebel, Thomas M., & Mange, Steven A. “THE MONTANA METH PROJECT:

“UNSELLING” A DANGEROUS DRUG.” Stanford Law & Policy Review, 2009. Accessed October 30, 2021.

Strickland, Justin C., and Stoops, William W. “The Prevention and Treatment of Adolesce[…] Methamphetamine Use.” Adolescent Substance Abuse, 2018. Accessed October 30, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.