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Drugs & Health Blog

NIDA Goes to School: Teens Become the Teachers

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Christian Cabrera. Designer of the Drug Facts: Shatter the Myths booklet

Christian Cabrera, Art Director at MFM Design

Hello, my name is Christian and I was the graphic designer for NIDA’s new Drug Facts: Shatter the Myths booklet. The goal for me was to create something visually that teens would enjoy reading, rather than being made to read. Teens are very savvy when it comes to messages, so we wanted to present the information in a way that was easy to understand and interesting to look at.

I was lucky enough to go to a high school with a team from NIDA to get students’ feedback on our work. It was really valuable, and a lot of their ideas made it into the final design. We learned some key things like:

  • Teens didn't like preachy messages, they wanted facts.
  • They liked photos of teens outside school, not in school, in situations that they could relate to.
  • They cared about design and told us what worked and what didn’t work for them.
  • Several commented that they didn’t like being talked down to, or being imitated (“you’re trying too hard”) by the use of texting shorthand in the booklet. KWIM?

All of the responses we received, positive and negative, helped to make the booklet better. Connecting with teens was vital in creating the piece, and we hope it helps keep you informed.

Christian Cabrera, age 34, is an art director at MFM Design and helped design the Drug Facts: Shatter the Myths booklet with NIDA. He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Media Arts and Design.

Tell us what you think about the Drug Facts: Shatter The Myths booklet in the comments.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Teach is a program within a program where people come to rehab and many choose to become addiction counselors.

Wow! This is really cool. I don't do drugs, but I know this is gonna help kids that do!:)

Hey. You have helped kids right? Don't just do this on drugs, do it on achoal too!


I'm not trying to be preachy, but if you do drugs, GOD will konow.:)

Wow! Design is really nice! Good job bro!

Nice experience at school, Same with me, I have some experience in my UNIVERSITY, nice to meet you.
[commercial link removed, per guidelines]

you are my mentor

"Teens didn’t like preachy messages, they wanted facts."

"They cared about design and told us what worked and what didn’t work for them."

I've worked with teens for a number of years now in our church. The above two statements are so very true. We pretend like what we've done for the last umpteen years still works. We live in a very media-driven society, and anything meant to get teens attention needs to be dressed up really nicely. Just think, businesses spend thousands upon thousands for a commercial, but we spend $10 for photocopies and call it good.

[commercial link and promotional message deleted, per guidelines]. It's time the messages to teens (and adults for that matter) get a good overhaul.