Addiction Is Something to Sing About, Grimly, in This Powerful Substance Abuse Campaign

Ari Merkin's not-so-merry melodies

“I get high seven days a week
So damn twisted I could hardly speak
I’m fine … ain’t worried … I got this
Spend all my money just to buy my shit
I’m always out chasin’ down another hit
I’m crazy … it don’t faze me … but I got this.”

Those are the opening lines of “I Got This,” a bitingly ironic take on denial by singer-songwriter Richie Supa, who leads “jam therapy” sessions at Recovery Unplugged treatment centers.

Supa, a recovering addict who’s composed tunes for Aerosmith and Richie Sambora, recorded the twangy tune last year for his album Enemy. Now, it appears in the video below, serving as an ironic, not-so-subtle soundtrack for a cautionary tale about what can happen when the party-hardy lifestyle spins out of control:

Good on that office drone for working late, but he probably won’t have the quarterly report ready by morning, what with shooting up in the mop room and all.

The clip, from ad agency Ari Merkin and m ss ng p eces director Jared Knecht, supports efforts by nonprofit Face the Music Foundation, which funds scholarships for those who cannot afford treatment.

“When I first took on the project, the founders of Recovery Unplugged insisted we witness a typical Fun Friday jam session at Recovery Unplugged,” agency principal Ari Merkin tells AdFreak. “We went and took a seat in the back of the room. At first, I felt like an intruder in a world where I didn’t belong. Then, Richie Supa began to sing and I was swept up in the music like everyone else. I thought if I could find a way to bring that feeling to the masses, we might be able to open some eyes.”

They sure do cram lots of drug-fueled, melodic misery into two-and-a-half minutes of running time.

Here’s a 90-second cut:

While we’ve seen such imagery many times before, the words and pictures fuse to deliver the heartfelt message loud and clear: You got this, and it’s killing you. In fact, you haven’t got anything at all.

“The first shot of the first day of production was the scene with the woman in bed,” recalls Merkin. “By the third take, most of us were either in tears or holding back tears. That scene pretty much set the tone for the rest of the shoot.”

As for the target audience, “this is for everyone who has suffered from addiction or is suffering from addiction,” he says. “It’s for the families and the friends. It’s for people who want a way to help others through this crisis.”

Timed for the close of National Recovery Month, the push includes a print and web banner component specifically touting Recovery Unplugged. Some of these ads play on words that can refer to drugs or music—such as needle, hit, rock, score and track.

Client: Face the Music and Recovery Unplugged

Agency – Ari Merkin
CW/AD – Ari Merkin
Executive Producer – Clair Grupp
Digital Strategist – Dan Seliger
Account Director – Samantha Sossin

Production Company – m ss ng p eces
Director – Jared Knecht

Original song: “I Got This” by Richie Supa
Album: Enemy

Edit – Exile
Matt Murphy – Editor
Stephania Dulowski – Assistant Editor
Evyn Bruce – Senior Producer
Lauren Pullano – Producer

Music Mix – Elias
Eric Ronick – Creative Director
Matt Phenix – Head of Production
Additional Arrangement: Luke Atencio

Color – Company 3
Colorist – Kath Raisch

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.