Do It Now Foundation was established in 1968 by a handful of people with a simple mission: to do something about the explosive increase in the use and abuse of amphetamines by young people.
Founders were members of the youth culture themselves who had witnessed speed’s toxic toll firsthand, and wanted to spread the word that speed really can kill — both dreamers and dreams.
Among its earliest work, the Foundation developed one of the first drug information hotlines in the United States, and established a crisis rescue team, street drug analysis service, and alternative treatment program serving the Los Angeles area. Eventually, satellite programs were established in Santa Cruz, San Jose, and other cities.
But a single, early project — the creation and distribution of credible, street-smart drug information — quickly became our central focus and has remained our organizational objective and overriding concern for 30 years.
Do It Now’s unique approach to information services grew out of the urgent need for realistic, culturally relevant approaches to substance abuse education and prevention.
As drug use surged across the nation and the world in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it became clear that young people simply were no longer paying much attention to the scare-oriented messages of the “establishment.”
New tools were needed. And Do It Now would play a key role in creating them.
The Foundation put itself on the map (and proved it could do the undoable with next to nothing) by enrolling the support of the rock-music industry in a then-unprecedented idea: production and distribution of a compilation record album, titled “First Vibration,” showcasing the words and music of the industry’s brightest stars, organized thematically around the issue of amphetamine abuse.
Containing selections donated by top solo artists and groups (including The Beatles, Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Donovan, Jefferson Airplane, and Buffalo Springfield), songs on “First Vibration” depicted speed-related risks in both general terms (“Nowhere Man,” “Sunshine Superman”) and in nitty-gritty specifics (Hoyt Axton’s “The Pusher,” Canned Heat’s “Amphetamine Annie”).
The album was primarily distributed via public-service agencies and rock radio stations throughout the United States and Canada, and staked Do It Now with the initial resources it needed to establish itself as a credible, alternative youth-oriented information project.
Featuring such rock legends as Frank Zappa, Steve Stills, Eric Burdon, Grace Slick, and John Sebastian, the PSA’s promoted the message that speed and other hard drugs could be deadly, typically concluding with the tag line:
The message achieved saturation coverage and, at the campaign’s height, was aired by some 1,500 radio stations around the world.
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Do It Now’s early publications were purposely designed to mirror the cultural foment and energy and idealism of the emerging youth culture of the late 1960s and early ’70s.
Early materials included words and images from such countercultural icons as Allen Ginsberg and cartoonist R. Crumb. Early titles included:
Like a look at some of our early work? Click the button at right or the titles above.
(Or visit our Archives section later.)
In 1972, the Foundation relocated from Hollywood to Phoenix, and a second organization (the Do It Now Foundation of Southern California) was launched to separate treatment and other services from educational activities and insure adequate attention to the quality of each.
Following the move, both the quantity and quality of Do It Now educational materials increased dramatically.
Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, Do It Now collaborated with both public- and private-sector groups to develop innovative information campaigns highlighting the hazards of nearly every public-health issue that reared its head in our direction — from “lookalike” drugs and “T’s & Blues” to AIDS and the resurrection of our old nemesis, methamphetamine.
Today, Do It Now distributes millions of publications and other materials each year and works closely with state and provincial agencies throughout the United States and Canada, as well as with corporations, schools, and community groups, to develop innovative, high-impact public information campaigns.
Although our main focus in our early years was the prevention of youthful amphetamine abuse — a role which quickly grew to encompass other drugs of abuse — our interests have expanded over the years to include other topics affecting other groups.
Currently, the Do It Now publication roster includes pamphlets, booklets, posters, and other materials that address chemical dependency and recovery, HIV/AIDS prevention and survival, and other behavioral health and personal growth topics.
The cornerstone of the Foundation’s philosophy has always centered on individual empowerment and the notion that each of us is uniquely qualified to make decisions concerning the content and quality of our lives.
To make rational and informed decisions on such highly personal (and emotionally-charged) issues as drugs and sexuality, we believe that access to timely, accurate information is crucial, and we seek to provide relevant, continually-updated information in all our publications.
In researching and reporting on drugs and sexuality, we attempt to be as objective and as reality-based as possible. We don’t attempt to slant or distort information for our readers’ “own good” or promote a covert philosophical agenda.
Why? Because we believe that truth is not only stranger than fiction; it’s also stronger than fiction — and more impactful in all our lives.
We believe that any behavioral change induced by distorted “facts” and scare campaigns is illusory and short-lived, while changes based on objective reporting of real-world issues are more likely to be true, lasting life changes.
For this reason, we strive to provide information that’s relatively devoid of the moralizing, stereotyping, and hand-wringing that’s still endemic among public-health “information.”
We rigorously seek to distinguish fact from fiction — even well-intentioned, well-entrenched, and well-respected fictions — concerning the critical personal choices that confront us all.
Recognizing that the use of psychoactive chemicals is one of humanity’s oldest preoccupations, we believe that no nation and no policy will ever “win” a war on drugs. Instead, we choose to fight our battles where they can be won and stay won: in the hearts and minds of our readers.
To do this, we accept the value of, and need for, both “primary” and “secondary” prevention strategies and messages.
Primary Prevention. We are committed to developing primary-prevention materials for young people that promote a “no-use” philosophy. We believe, and advocate in our primary-prevention materials, that the only way to avoid drug-related problems is to avoid the use of drugs themselves. Period. In primary-prevention materials (including our “FactsFirst” pamphlets and “All-Star Attitudes,” “Natural High,” and “Save Sex” poster series), we emphasize drug-free alternatives and proactive choices, rather than “Just Say No” rhetoric.
Secondary Prevention. Since we also recognize that ignorance can be as dangerous and destructive as drugs themselves, we direct many of our publications toward the goal of reducing risk among already-affected individuals and groups. Our secondary-prevention materials (examples include our “StreetTalk” and “Sex101” pamphlet series) focus on reducing risk and self-destructive behavior. Rationale: You can’t get better if you don’t stay alive.
In both primary and secondary prevention materials, we believe that information is most meaningful when presented in a context of action and behavioral choices, rather than as curiosities or disconnected series of facts. That’s why we emphasize actions that readers can take on their own behalf in the present moment — in the here and now — to avoid problems or reduce risk, whether it involves chemical use and abuse, sexuality, or other life issues.
We incorporate humor and contemporary cultural references in our publications because research has consistently shown that they both increase readability and facilitate recall of factual information. And because it’s more fun — to read and write.
Finally, we don’t favor or endorse any specific treatment approach or philosophy, believing instead that many roads lead to the same destination, the place that we’re all (hopefully) headed for and committed to reaching: full human potential and self-actualization.
More philosophy, anyone?
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In the years since its inception, hundreds of dedicated people have worked diligently and well to create Do It Now Foundation and keep it committed to a continual process of creating communications that touch both the heart and the head.
In the process, each has helped establish and maintain our reputation as one of the most respected independent publishers of substance abuse prevention and health education materials in the world.
They did it because it needed doing, and no one else was doing it — at least, not the way we thought it needed doing and think it still needs to be done: with candor and humor and respect for the intelligence and common sense of our readers.
It’s a rare privilege — and a perpetually daunting and humbling task: helping to shape opinion and behavior through the power of our individual and collective imaginations.
We appreciate both the opportunity and the responsibility.
And with your continued interest and support — and you wouldn’t have stayed with us this long without some measure of both — we plan to keep on doing it now for a long time to come.