Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Faces of Tragedy

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Faces of Tragedy

Article excerpt

Life isn't easy for people addicted to drugs. Relationships fail. Jobs are lost. Desperation settles in. Bodies change. The Faces of Meth project (www.facesofineth.us) captures the latter, showing how the appearances of people on meth have changed over time by using their mug shots from the Multnomah County, Oregon, jail. Some of the photos used in the prevention campaign aimed at teens are discomforting and serve as a warning to kids of how using meth can lead to serious consequences.

Yet I am concerned about how this prevention message is delivered. People addicted to substances have a serious, chronic health problem. They are not freaks to be put on display, even if the intent is to warn others about the dangers of drugs. A representative of the Faces of Meth program told me that they do not seek the offenders' permission to use their mug shots as they are public records, but because the program is focusing on people with a specific disease (i.e., addiction), it seems like an invasion of privacy. No matter how well-intentioned, this type of imagery-putting "oddballs on display"-helps to promote a stigma surrounding substance use disorders that has prevented them from receiving widespread support-and dollars-for treatment.

There are ways to show how drugs can destroy the body without exploiting people. …

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