Anti-Heroin Group's 'Beer Is Better For You Than Heroin' Koozies Spark National Conversation

By McCarton Ackerman 09/22/16

The Fix spoke with the founder of Juneau - Stop Heroin, Start Talking about the bold message.

Anti-Heroin Group's 'Beer Is Better For You Than Heroin' Koozies Spark National Conversation
Photo credit: KTOO

An anti-heroin organization in Alaska generated headlines for the controversial koozies they passed out during a local beer festival, but said the giveaway met their goal of sparking a conversation about heroin addiction.

The organization Juneau – Stop Heroin, Start Talking, was on hand during the Juneau Rotary’s Capital Brewfest. They handed out the koozies which read, “BEER AND BACON ARE 100% BETTER FOR YOU THAN HEROIN.”

The anti-heroin group will receive 25% of all proceeds from the beer festival. They’ll likely get a little over $6,000 based on sales from previous years, which will go towards funding an awareness campaign and bringing their message into schools.

Although most in attendance found the koozies amusing, others were slightly put off by them, given that Alaska has some of the highest rates of binge drinking in the United States. According to the CDC, in 2010, one in five Alaskan adults reported binge drinking in the last 30 days.

But Michele Morgan, the founder of Juneau – Stop Heroin, Start Talking, exclusively told The Fix that “there was no promotion of beer” on the part of her organization and that the koozies “were for the brew fest only.” She also said that creating bold messages is the most effective way to get the anti-heroin platform across.

“When we lost our fourth kid in our small community, I made stickers [that said] ‘Heroin Will Kill You and Your Friends.’ People found them harsh and wouldn’t engage in the campaign,” said Morgan.

But she added that the koozies were designed to “bring people who might never have been exposed to the heroin problem into the light. My goal as a mother is that no family will have to suffer shame after losing a son, daughter or brother.”

The organization also passed out rubber wristbands during the festival which read “Stop Heroin, Start Talking.” One attendee told KTOO Public Media that she preferred those because “kids will wear them rather than having something they have to put on a beer.”

Morgan admitted there was some slight pushback from local residents about the koozies, and even from one man about the humorous reference to bacon due to heart disease and obesity. However, she said it was worth putting aside personal convictions for the sake of trying to stamp out a much broader issue.

“I have huge issues with farmed meat. It disgusts me,” she said. “But we aren’t going to raise any awareness without reaching people.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.