What if you wanted to tell young people something they would actually believe about the recreational use of dextromethorphan in cough remedies? What if you were trying to give them an accurate picture of the experience, neither encouraging people to do it nor exaggerating the dangers of that particular drug compared to other commonly available drugs like marijuana and alcohol.

Sounds weird, I guess. But the videos are already online anyway. And watching them, I’m reminded of every experience I’ve ever had with the exposure to accurate information presented in the context of harm reduction: reality is scarier and more depressing than anything the ONDCP could dream up. This first video, in particular, just gives me the creeps.

The second one captures more of a “fun” experience, but it’s hard to watch it without remembering how shitty it can be to be a teenager. The audio seems to be out of sync, but that only adds to the overall train-wreck aesthetic of the whole thing. “This is the next generation, bro. . . . Dude, the youth has got no hope. I hate peanuts, dude.”

The problematic thing about these kinds of films is that, even though they hint at the danger, they don’t show anybody overdosing (yet) or going to the hospital or barfing for hours, or wrecking their liver. Nobody is going to post a YouTube video of their friend going into a coma. On the other hand, commercials for beer during the Superbowl aren’t any better: they leave out any reference to alcohol poisoning, DUI, domestic violence, liver damage, and the rest of the problems that alcohol brings to its users.

It’s pretty damn hard, when you get right down to it, just to get complete, accurate information about any drug that is used recreationally.