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Substance Use and Addiction

“Just say no” is a limited frame for addressing issues of substance use and addiction. Advocates need to tell a different story.

Substance use outreach and advocacy work can be derailed by the public belief in the role of individual choice and willpower. FrameWorks’ research helps widen the lens on substance use issues.

Some frame shifts are straightforward—like naming the range of substances that may harm youth, rather than relying on the phrase “drugs and alcohol.” Other strategies seek to reshape the overall narrative, moving from a story about the scope of the problem to society’s responsibility to address it.

Explore frames that can help to build support for youth prevention, explain early intervention, translate key findings from the science of addiction, and more.

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Excessive Alcohol Use and Health Equity

Communicating to the public about health hazards in ways that promote health equity is a core public health function. When it comes to talking about the harms related to alcohol consumption in the...


Reframing Primary Prevention and Opioid Use Reduction in the Construction Industry

This brief draws on and synthesizes more than  a decade of FrameWorks’ communications research on subjects such as substance use prevention, public health, labor unions, and mental health.


Words That Change Minds

This feature article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy profiled the FrameWorks Institute and the way our work helps nonprofit communicators drive social change.


Reframing Adolescent Substance Use and its Prevention: A Communications Playbook

Welcome to the Reframing Adolescent Substance Use and Its Prevention playbook, a step-by-step guide to using evidence-based framing strategies to communicate about adolescent substance use.


Turning Down the Heat on Adolescent Substance Use: Findings from Reframing Research

This report outlines the findings from a series of interrelated investigations aimed at identifying framing tools and techniques capable of elevating the public discussion. The purpose of this...


Beyond Awareness of Stigma: Moving Public Understanding to the Next Level

This report compares expert and public views of issues related to mental health and outlines the differences between them.


Seeing the Spectrum: Mapping the Gaps between Expert and Public Understandings of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Manitoba

This report explores experts and public views of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in Manitoba and “maps the gaps” between them.


Telling Stories that Explain: Comparing Media and Organizational Discourse on Adolescent Substance Use

The research presented here was conducted by the FrameWorks Institute and sponsored by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. It is one piece of a larger, multi-method project to design and test framing...


Testing Usability: The Use of Addiction Explanatory Metaphors in Framing Public and Professional Conversations

This report summarizes the findings of qualitative research to explore how experts use three Explanatory Metaphors — Redirecting the River, Reward Dial, and Outcomes Scale — to communicate...

Frame Testing Recommendations

Viewpoint: Q&A with FrameWorks CEO Nathaniel Kendall-Taylor, PhD

What challenges do advocates face when communicating about substance abuse prevention, and how can they overcome these challenges?


Dials and Rivers: Using Explanatory Metaphors to Expand Understanding of Addiction and Its Treatment

This report summarizes the findings of research to develop and test Explanatory Metaphors for their ability to expand thinking on the science of addiction.


The Resilience Scale: Using Metaphor to Communicate a Developmental Perspective on Resilience

How can we talk about resilience in a way that disrupts people's assumption that it's all about inner strength and just a matter of "bouncing back?"