Every news story, every documentary, and even notifications about events that educate about addiction include negative and damning visuals of needles, shooting up, candles and spoons, powder, and people lying on the floor having overdosed.
So what’s wrong with having those images?
Those images could be triggers for those who are vulnerable meaning we don’t want to put images out there that could compromise those in recovery. What’s more, they perpetuate the stigma of addiction. And we don’t need more of that.
Heroin is already a word and disease dripping with shame and ugliness without all of the negative imagery.
When we report on cancer, do we show detailed pictures of infusions of chemotherapy? And for diabetes, do we show lots of needles and finger pricks? Why then, do we show the images for addiction that make us cringe.
So for a news story, if you can, ask reporters to be more creative about images to show instead of the same needle and overdose pictures over and over. For flyers used for educational events, think of something positive. Hands holding each other in solidarity, images promoting recovery, for example. That way we can make some progress eliminating stigma as it relates to substance use disorder.