All those gory addiction images

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.

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Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked mental health speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational mental health keynotes, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, anxiety, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

4 thoughts on “All those gory addiction images”

  1. Such an important point to remember. Nothing is as simple as the snapshot that is often presented. We need to help people open the eyes of their heart and less eager to pronounce a judgment. We are all sailing in the same ship.

  2. This is so true!!!!! I remember being interviewed by one of the local channels. The promo price was flashing emergency lights and a sooon and needle. It made me feel physically ill. We need to challenge the status quo. Great post Anne Moss 💙

    1. I know you will help spread that message Jenny. Especially as it relates to our son’s. It just somehow emphasizes that they died from some less noble cause of death when science has proven it is a disease.

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