If you have been on the internet in the last week, you have likely seen the viral photo circulating of a couple passed out in the front seat of their car, after getting high on heroin. The reason the photo went viral is that their child was in the backseat. A quick google search will show you what I’m talking about if you haven’t seen it- but on principle, I’m not going to link to it from this page.

Where it Came From

 

The photo was posted by the local police department, in an effort to “show the reality” of addiction, and bring the truth of an addict’s sick behavior to the forefront of the community’s mind. The photo itself is disturbing, if not for the comatose addicts that appear to possibly be in need of medical attention, then for the alert and somber child, peering out from his carseat in the backseat. On one hand, I imagine that being a law enforcement officer, or anyone else who faces the horrors of addiction every single day, is not an easy job. Frustration, fear, sympathy, and anger are likely just a few of the flood of emotions one feels when faced with an addict- someone who would steal, cheat, use with their child in the car, and sometimes worse, just to get their next fix. I imagine that the officers who posted the photo had reached a limit, and were desperate to try and convince the community that addiction takes you down a dark road, and that perhaps the photo would act as a deterrent for other potential addicts.

The Issue

 

But here is the problem. Actually, two of them.

  • Shame and Guilt Don’t Prevent Addiction. As anyone who has been through struggles with addiction or alcoholism can tell you, shame and guilt are not effective measures for staying or getting sober. The alcoholic or addict KNOWS their behavior is shameful- they know that they were usually raised to have values and morals, and that their addiction has thrown all of that out the window for the sake of the next fix. But they are dealing with a physical, mental, and spiritual illness which only professional medical and clinical help can change. Addicts are powerless over their drug of choice, and nothing- not love, not shame, not fear, and not guilt- nothing can stop their drug-seeking and drug-taking behavior without professional help. The photo that was released is only going to perpetuate the stigma of addiction, and cause non-addicts to develop even more judgment about something they simply don’t fully understand.
  • Those Addicts Need Help, Not National Publicity.And on a final note, the addicts in the photo deserve better. I’m not saying that shooting heroin and passing out with your child in the car is acceptable behavior. It is deplorable, and the child clearly needs to be placed, at least temporarily, in the hands of more responsible and stable guardians. But this photo? Blazing a trail through the internet and splashing their bad behavior all over the web? Just isn’t fair to those two people. They are addicts- meaning they have gone down a road that they likely never saw for themselves, and they have an illness- one that eliminates their ability to make better decisions. They need help- whether through counseling, twelve step programs, or inpatient treatment at an addictions treatment center. And posting this photo shows a total lack of awareness or compassion for this fact, or for the fact that one day they MIGHT get clean, and MIGHT get the help they need, only to have future employment opportunities or stability threatened by this photo from their past.

 

The battle to end the stigma of addiction is clearly not over, but as long as people who understand are willing to continue to stand up and speak out, we are making progress.

 

Get the Help You Need Today

 

If you or someone you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol, call the professionals at Serenity Acres Treatment Center today for your free confidential assessment: 1-800-203-2024.