The Antidrug Lord

Tom Siebel keeps kids off meth by pushing shocking ads.

Tom Siebel keeps kids off meth by pushing shocking ads.

Outside a convenience store, a teenage girl makes an offer to an intimidating group of men: "You can do anything you want to me for 50 bucks." When one of them asks about her younger sister, standing nearby, she offers her up too. The men shuttle the girls, covered in scars, into a grungy bathroom. A voice-over confirms what many teens watching the television ad already know: "This isn't normal, but on meth it is."Earlier this year, a series of such ads began airing in Illinois and Idaho, where the highly addictive drug has ravaged communities, crippling state budgets in the process. To stop the addiction cycle, billionaire software developer Tom Siebel (of Siebel Systems) has used his business savvy to create and promote the Meth Project-an anti-methamphetamine organization that targets first-time users. The organization aggressively preaches to young people with graphic portrayals of addiction on billboards, radio, and television.Siebel, 55, borrowed the advertising concept from the American Cancer Society's successful "Truth" antismoking campaign, and his Meth Project ads go well beyond the classic "your brain on drugs" tagline. The spots offer a snapshot of meth addiction at its worst: a son attacking his mother; a boyfriend selling his girlfriend for drugs; a boy hallucinating that bugs are crawling on his skin; and the transformation of a pretty girl into one with skin sores and tooth decay. "We're really focused on realism," says Siebel. "That's exactly the way addicts look." With the slogan "Not Even Once," the campaign targets teens who haven't yet tried the drug.
We're really focused on realism. That's exactly how addicts look.
The Meth Project first focused on Montana, where Siebel owns a cattle ranch. During trips to the state, he has watched the meth problem spiral into an epidemic. "It's palpable, visible, and very tragic," he says. Three years ago, more than half the children in Montana's foster-care system and more than half the prisoners in the state's jails were there because of methamphetamine, costing the state approximately $60 million a year. "The state's primary response was to increase prison sentencing," says Siebel. "That didn't strike me as making much of a difference in a positive sense."Since the ads began airing in Montana in September, 2005, meth use among the state's teens has dropped by more than 40 percent, according to a recent survey by Montana's attorney general. In state-funded facilities, admissions for meth rehab have fallen by 42 percent among patients 20 years old and under, and meth-related crime has dropped by 62 percent. In three years, Montana has gone from fifth to 39th in the national ranking of methamphetamine abuse.In addition to consulting with consumer-marketing experts, law enforcement authorities, focus groups, and award-winning directors, Siebel asks his four children, ages 9 to 19, for input on the campaigns. "These messages are in the same tone and color and frequency of what kids experience all day, he says. "For 16-year-olds, this is normal stuff." The ads are so stylized that they've made AdCritic's Top 10 list of best ads in the United States and won top honors at the Cannes Film Festival. The Office of National Drug Control Policy awarded the program a White House commendation as the most influential prevention campaign in 2006. Last fall, Siebel testified before the Senate and Congress on the effectiveness of his program and asked for support to expand nationwide.To date, the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation has contributed $26 million to the Meth Project, making it the largest advertiser in Montana. A 2008 survey commissioned by the Montana Meth Project found that the ads were recognized by 88 percent of the state's teens, and two-thirds of teens reported seeing or hearing anti-meth messages weekly. Now, Siebel says, "We're in the franchising business." The advertisements have recently appeared beyond Montana's borders, in Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, and Wyoming, and Siebel is taking a hard look at bringing the ads to more states soon, including Georgia, South Carolina, and the Dakotas, all states with large meth problems. As Siebel says, "The only difference between Montana and other states is the Meth Project."LEARN MORE

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.


Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet