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Center's YouTube videos seek to ease addicts' fears, despair

July 15, 2014
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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The Cumberland Heights addiction treatment facility in Nashville has taken to YouTube as part of a community education and soft marketing effort to help demystify the experience of treatment. The initial subject in a planned series of short videos that will be posted through next year focuses on medical detox, arguably the most feared component along the treatment continuum.

In the two-minute segment, posted both to YouTube and Cumberland Heights' website this month, a young-adult male sits on a detox bed in Cumberland Heights' medical unit in a close-in shot and recounts his journey from being “mentally and emotionally destroyed” before his arrival to having experienced significant changes for the better since.

“We wanted to do something viral that was not completely produced like a packaged professional piece,” says Walt Quinn, Cumberland Heights' chief marketing officer. “We're trying to reach younger people through this and other vehicles such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. … We kind of have a bubble [in service demand] right now, with 18-to-24 year old males.”

The initial video in the planned series, “Drug & Alcohol Detox: A Step Toward Life,” includes many of the features seen as appealing to the younger demographic, such as its short-form structure and its instructional approach. “Younger people go to YouTube to learn things,” says Quinn.

Each video in the series was shot by a professional who had worked in the past with Kaleidoscope Media, a public relations consultant to Cumberland Heights. Some of the other topics that will be covered in the series will include the role of the family in treatment (to be posted this November); women and addiction (July/August); and making the commitment to treatment (September/October, to debut in conjunction with Recovery Month).

Quinn and Kaleidoscope Media's Ann Ewing say it is likely that the YouTube posting will attract young viewers, while the facility website posting likely will be visited more frequently by family members of individuals who are experiencing a substance use problem. Organizers deliberately avoid giving Cumberland Heights a prominent role in the presentations through logos or verbal mentions.

“The message of the video is that if you need help, get help,” says Ewing. Quinn adds, in reference to harder sells, “I think that's a little off-putting for young people.”

In the final seconds of the first video, a Cumberland Heights staffer explains that detox services provide patient safety, minimize the discomfort associated with substance withdrawal, and begin to engage patients in the idea of extended treatment by exposing them to individuals who have been there before them. Quinn says he recently recalled some of the challenges patients experience at the outset when his nephew entered treatment, encountering significant travel delays that Quinn says left him fearing that a relapse could occur.

“This subject was an obvious first choice,” Quinn says of the focus on detox. “When a person is first calling in, there's some stuff that you worry about. Our message is they can get past that.”