Finding a Voice in Opiate Addiction: Identifying the Role of Caregivers in the Recovery Process for VIVITROL

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Case Study—Opiate addiction is a significant public health crisis. In the past year, it has become a hot topic at all levels, including the political realm ahead of the presidential election. Triggers, treatment options and restrictions, the criminal justice system, and costs to society are all part of the discussion but the cultural milieu in which addiction occurs is poorly understood. This was a significant problem for our client, the maker of a monthly injectable that inhibits the ability of an addict to get high. Our client, basing their marketing strategy entirely on quantitative data, realized that they needed to get a deeper understanding of addiction and the roles caregivers, friends, and family play in the treatment and recovery cycle. Our team convinced our client, who was inherently nervous about executing qualitative work, that in order to create a meaningful marketing plan, they needed to understand the complexities at a deeper level than data could provide. Working with the client and our design teams we executed an initial ethnographic pilot study to identify the best avenues for reaching the audience and providing information that would have an actual long-term impact on the success of treatment. Over the course of a month, our team combined participant observation in three US cities with the caregivers of people battling addiction (some of whom had lost) with in-depth interviews that incorporated a series of semiotics techniques.The end result was a completely new strategy for the client. A new campaign was developed, new messaging channels were identified, and a clear three-year road map was developed to help them change the conversation and expand their reach. Perhaps as important, the client’s entire perspective on addiction and research changed, leading to developing a plan for further research in a broader range of settings.

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