Australia’s Brutal New Anti-Meth Ads Will Make Your Skin Crawl

Just like one of the characters'

In Australia, "ice" is anything but cool.

Ice addiction—that is, a taste for crystal meth—has become a terrifying scourge Down Under, prompting the federal government to launch a six-week, $9 million ($7 million U.S.) PSA blitz that contains several shocking sequences.

Upsetting scenes in the 45-second spot below, which has been edited into shorter commercials, include a scraggy-looking dude violently robbing his mom, a young woman peeling open her skin because she believes bugs are crawling inside, and an addict's startling, psychotic attack on hospital staffers.

The message: "Ice destroys lives. Don't let it destroy yours."

Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash says a graphic campaign is required because "nobody sets out to become addicted, and many users think addiction won't happen to them. It can and does, and these ads aim to show the realities of ice addiction."

She has a point, and the approach in and of itself is provocative, memorable and obviously well intentioned. That said, I can't help feeling we've seen this kind of stuff before, and I wonder how impactful it will be. (The mom and bug scenes, though strong stuff, might have packed more punch pre-Breaking Bad. That emergency-room freakout, however, feels startlingly fresh and really crashes through the clutter to lodge inside your head.)

Australian Anti-Ice Campaign founder Andrea Simmons gives the work a mixed review on her organization's Facebook page. "Its a good start, however it will take more than a couple hundred ads" to effectively deliver the message, she says. Simmons argues that since the spots are airing on late-night TV, they'll probably get lost in the shuffle, concluding, "We can't use a band aide fix with this epidemic."