Turning Down the Heat on Substance Use Framing: Research and Communications Playbook
Findings from Reframing Research
To develop a way of framing adolescent substance use capable of addressing misconceptions and moving the issue into the center of our public conversation, the FrameWorks Institute has engaged in mixed method empirical research, supported by grants from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Using Strategic Frame Analysis®, we have arrived at reliable, research-based recommendations for reframing the issue. 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 report is to allow communicators to review the evidence base behind the recommendations emerging from this project. It is our hope that this transparent approach to the research, its methods, and its findings will allow advocates to trust the recommended reframing techniques, adopt them, and share them with like-minded colleagues. You won’t find a catchy slogan here, but you will find insights that will help you build public understanding and generate more support for evidence-based approaches to reducing adolescent substance use.
In addition to the full research report, FrameWorks Institute also developed a communications playbook to guide how to best implement the research. The findings are presented here as a set of field tested framing strategies that can move advocacy communications goals forward more quickly and help the public catch up to experts’ understanding of prevention strategies for adolescent substance use— what they are, how they work, and why they matter. If framing is the vehicle that can carry your communications to their intended destination, then this playbook is the owner’s manual. Inside, you’ll find explanations of each framing strategy, models that illustrate how to apply it to a message, and helpful user notes. The guide is divided into three sections: strategies that get the green light, those that require users to proceed with caution, and those that should come with a flashing red signal to stop, as summarized in the following chart.