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The Face of Addiction
November 2, 2004 1:43 AM   Subscribe

The Face of Addiction New anti-drug posters in London show the physical decline caused by taking Crack.
posted by Mwongozi (50 comments total)

 
Wow. That's very powerful. Why exactly does crack make your cheek look so sunken, anyway?
posted by Hildegarde at 2:43 AM on November 2, 2004


kinda lame that they're using photos of American crackheads because the Americans, unlike British crackheads, are not protected by privacy laws
posted by matteo at 2:47 AM on November 2, 2004


Metafilter: Why exactly does crack make your cheek look so sunken, anyway?
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:57 AM on November 2, 2004


hm, I can't find it now, but a link to the police dept site that originally put up these photos was put on mefi awhile back. this page shows all of her photos along with the photos of a NYC woman who also changed through the years.
posted by gluechunk at 3:03 AM on November 2, 2004


ah, it's on the lower half of the City of Hollywood Police Department - Crime Suppression Unit page.
posted by gluechunk at 3:06 AM on November 2, 2004


Holy crap, if I were that woman's relatives, I would sue somebody into the middle of the next century.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:37 AM on November 2, 2004


There is no possible way that she is 29 in the first picture.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 3:43 AM on November 2, 2004


They should use this series. (From Rotten.com, a few years back. Originally posted on Plastic, and greeted there with great steaming platters of schadenfreude...)
posted by lodurr at 3:49 AM on November 2, 2004


This reminds me of an old Salon article critiquing prevention campaigns,
as well as the UK "Heroin Screws You Up" promos which were popular with the goth kids.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:38 AM on November 2, 2004


That was my first thought, too, LittleMissCranky. . .especially if it was "before her addiciton took hold."
posted by rainbaby at 5:12 AM on November 2, 2004


The last picture has long been a Fark cliche. I wonder if they knew where it came from.
posted by PrinceValium at 5:14 AM on November 2, 2004


Crack cocaine is bad for you shocker!! Please remind me why do we need telling this again?
posted by DrDoberman at 5:17 AM on November 2, 2004


Maybe you don't need the message, DrDoberman, but there's always that younger generation coming up who do.
posted by orange swan at 5:27 AM on November 2, 2004


Crack cocaine is bad for you shocker!! Please remind me why do we need telling this again?

The campaign could only be validly criticised in this way if it consisted of posters which simply carried the text “crack cocaine is bad for you”. Of course, this isn’t going to be news to anyone. The idea, I think, is that giving such a graphic representation of the ways that crack cocaine is bad for you will have more of a persuasive affect on potential users than simply hearing a simple statement.
posted by ed\26h at 5:53 AM on November 2, 2004


The campaign could only be validly criticised in this way if

I disagree. That woman knew crack was bad before she started taking it. Looking at her own face in the mirror didn't stop her, so why should it stop anyone else who looks at her? We know that drugs are dangerous and life altering already. Re-informing us that 'drugs are bad mkayy' is wasting valuable resources that could be directed into treatment programs and schemes that address the main reasons why people get drawn into taking hard drugs in the first place.

Of course there are those that would say the very fact we are discussing it here means that the campaign has worked ;)

Orange swan, are you saying think of the children by any chance?
posted by DrDoberman at 6:13 AM on November 2, 2004


DrDoberman: Do you know that McDonald's sells hamburgers? Of course you do. Everyone does. Then why does McDonald's spend millions of dollars in advertising? Repetition works.
posted by jpoulos at 6:27 AM on November 2, 2004


3 of 5: Ms Holland is American - police have pictures of British addicts but were constrained by issues of confidentiality.

American police, however, are unconstrained by issues of confidentiality.
posted by ook at 6:30 AM on November 2, 2004


DrDoberman, if advertising weren't effective, it wouldn't be a multi-billion dollar industry.

Oddly, gluechunk's link claims that the woman in the FPP is from Toronto.
posted by orange swan at 6:34 AM on November 2, 2004


I'd hit it. [shrug]
posted by Fofer at 6:34 AM on November 2, 2004


Orange swan, are you saying think of the children by any chance?

Wow, your all, like, cynical and nihilistic and stuff. Can I hang out with you.

That woman knew crack was bad before she started taking it.

Maybe she'd heard as much, but since the same propoganda tells people that the effects of marijuana ar just as bad (which is demonstrably false) she might've been disinclined to believe it. This is where credibility is important.

I'd hit it. [shrug]

Crack whore.
posted by jonmc at 6:42 AM on November 2, 2004


DrDoberman, if advertising weren't effective, it wouldn't be a multi-billion dollar industry.


If advertising is so effective, why do people still take drugs?
posted by DrDoberman at 7:00 AM on November 2, 2004


If advertising is so effective, why do people still take drugs?

Because advertising appeals to our baser instincts: our sloth, our vanity, our lasciviousness. It can't sell us on discipline and self control.

/calvin
posted by psmealey at 7:09 AM on November 2, 2004


if advertising weren't effective, it wouldn't be a multi-billion dollar industry.

if snakeoil weren't effective, it wouldn't be a multi-billion dollar industry.

Yes indeed, people only ever buy things that work.
posted by biffa at 7:20 AM on November 2, 2004


I find it hard to believe that the snakeoil industry involves the same kind of money as the advertising industry. You wouldn't happen to have any links on that would you, biffa?

Companies are a little more sophisticated in their reasoning than the kind of people that buy snakeoil. They would not be spending millions of dollars on advertising if it didn't work. They do market research, and pull campaigns that aren't working. The government does the same with its campaigns - for instance, back when I was in high school, the Canadian government pulled an idiotic anti-smoking commerical because they found out it just made people laugh - in it, a smoking teenaged girl turned into a giant cigarette and her friends ran away in horror.

If advertising is so effective, why do people still take drugs?

Are you claiming that anti-drug advertising has no effect at all? I don't say that the government should try to go for the kind of advertising blitz that large corporations do. But it seems reasonable to me to believe that a campaign like this one would have some impact, and until I see some proof that anti-drugs advertising is having no effect at all, I support the use of such campaigns as part of a wholistic anti-drug effort.
posted by orange swan at 7:53 AM on November 2, 2004


Looking at her own face in the mirror didn't stop her, so why should it stop anyone else who looks at her?

It would not be accurate to say that this woman, in having looked in a mirror on a daily basis during her decline had received the same message as the campaign provides; since to her the decline was so gradual and consequentially far less noticeable than a set of juxtaposed photographs. Even if your assertion were fair though, the main problem is that by the time she started to see the decline for herself, she was already an addict whereas this campaigns primary objective seems to be to graphically communicate to potential users, before they start, just what giving the addiction itself a chance to take hold can result in. Finally, even if it were the case that this woman had received, and in a timely fashion, the same message through her own circumstances and still chosen to peruse this path, this doesn’t mean that other people, in receiving the same message are not going to heed it.
posted by ed\26h at 8:00 AM on November 2, 2004


A good buddy of mine, an American MD was in Hungary working on curing Gypsy alcholics using acupuncture techniques. He had a lot of experience in working with addicts, and felt that it was necessary for him to try all of these drugs just to know what he was dealing with. So one day he smoked crack. And he told me it was just fantastic, but then all he wanted was another hit. And for the next six months, he said, there was not a single hour of the day that he could get the "A hit of crack would sure be nice right now" urge out of his brain.
posted by zaelic at 8:26 AM on November 2, 2004


He had a lot of experience in working with addicts, and felt that it was necessary for him to try all of these drugs just to know what he was dealing with

Good thing he wasn't working with car crash victims.
posted by jonmc at 8:32 AM on November 2, 2004


I have had the opportunity (or misfortune) to know a few crack addicts. Some of them are (or have been) in the kind of death spiral depicted in the post. Some are not. They hold jobs, run businesses, etc. and are not immediately recognizable as crack addicts. It's analogous to alcoholics. Some are daily maintenance drinkers and eventually will show its telltale effects while others are occasional binge drinkers and it isn't readily apparent that they're alcoholics when they're not bingeing.

Just to make it clear, I'm not recommending crack cocaine to anyone. All the crack addicts I've met have regretted ever doing the drug, all have said they became addicted almost immediately after their first use, and not one has been able to stay clean indefinitely. So don't do crack, OK? I'm just saying that that series of pictures isn't the only story, just as pictures showing someone's descent from upstanding citizen to street drunk isn't the single truth about people who use, or become addicted to, alcohol.
posted by TimeFactor at 8:32 AM on November 2, 2004


orange swan: I was using snakeoil as a metaphor, hence my final sentence. How many billions have people spent on cosmetics/hair restorers/wrinkle removers/medicines/homeopaths/magnetic treatments etc that have no real effect?
NB, I'm not suggesting that advertising doesn't work, I'm pointing out the statement of 'advertising must work because it's a big industry' to be fallacious .
posted by biffa at 8:35 AM on November 2, 2004


... I'm pointing out the statement of 'advertising must work because it's a big industry' to be fallacious .

Guess I don't see how that follows from your examples. Problem is, I don't think you're really evaluating advertising on the right success-criteria.

The fact that the advertising industry is large and lucrative does, in fact, mean that "advertising is successful", by definition. You just have to figure out what it's successful at. Put another way: Your observations are on the right track, but I just think you don't follow it far enough.
posted by lodurr at 9:05 AM on November 2, 2004


and until I see some proof that anti-drugs advertising is having no effect at all, I support the use of such campaigns as part of a wholistic anti-drug effort.

Until you prove a negative... Orange swan, you're an ad man's dream ;)
posted by DrDoberman at 9:09 AM on November 2, 2004


That ad may become effective, maybe with periodic repetition, (hammering it would have an adverse effect)and I think it will do some good in prevention , but hopefully it will not be used as an excuse to underfund research for antidotes to crack cocaine. While it's true the prevention is often less expensive and stressing then a cure, one must not forget to get the cure as well if prevention fails.

For instance, take this interview on the subject of Nicotine addiction , nicotine patches and another drug called Mecamylamine
primarily used for anti-hyperthensive purposes. It appears that mecamylamine is also a nicotine antagonist, something that reduces the payoff pleasure coming from smoking : by reducing or killing the payoff one could reduce or kill the -will to smoke- while addiction is being addressed by reduced dosages of nicotine.
posted by elpapacito at 9:16 AM on November 2, 2004


and until I see some proof that anti-drugs advertising is having no effect at all, I support the use of such campaigns as part of a wholistic anti-drug effort.

Until you prove a negative... Orange swan, you're an ad man's dream ;)


It would be possible to research how people are reacting to this campaign. Ads are deemed ineffective and pulled every day.
posted by orange swan at 9:30 AM on November 2, 2004


Metafilter: More addictive than crack!

/it's been done
posted by orelius at 9:40 AM on November 2, 2004


She's a heroin addict, according to the first page of that linked article, so this crack talk is superfluous.
posted by SiW at 9:43 AM on November 2, 2004


The fact that the advertising industry is large and lucrative does, in fact, mean that "advertising is successful", by definition. You just have to figure out what it's successful at. Put another way: Your observations are on the right track, but I just think you don't follow it far enough.

Welll, its successful in that the people who sell it are rich, just as those who sell snakeoil can end up rich. As a product paid for by a consumer sometimes it can work and sometimes it doesn't. As the debate was clearly about the efficacy of the product in ensuring the purchaser (in this case the government) achieves its goals (discouraging drug experimentation/addiction) the question of its efficacy has yet to be addressed. Suggesting that the efficacy of such advertising is demonstrated by the fact that advertising agencies get rich does not hold logically. All that is required for ad agencies to get rich is for ad buyers to believe that they work, as with the other products on my list and their respective buyers. Now it may be that some (or no or all) ads work, but which one's?
posted by biffa at 10:21 AM on November 2, 2004


Ads are researched for effectiveness if someone's trying to sell something and they're not moving enough units.

Anti-drug ads aren't researched for effectiveness, because ultimately they aren't trying to "sell" an avoidance of drugs among drug users and potential drug users; rather, they're actually trying to "sell" the appearance that governments/municipalities/whoever are doing something constructive about drug addiction.

If all the public money that was blown on these bloated campaigns was instead directed to treatment centers and programs, my guess is that it would do a hell of a lot more good for society.

But it wouldn't make advertising agencies, media ad sales departments, and politicians feel good about themselves and their jobs (let alone make some money/build business volume).
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:57 AM on November 2, 2004


How many billions have people spent on cosmetics/hair restorers/wrinkle removers/medicines/homeopaths/magnetic treatments etc that have no real effect?

And why are people spending all those billions on all those products?

Advertising.
posted by ook at 11:02 AM on November 2, 2004


I like the drugs.
posted by oncogenesis at 11:04 AM on November 2, 2004


Does anyone know if the sunken cheeks business is a direct physiological effect of crack, or more a result of spending your grocery money on your next rock?
posted by sid at 11:05 AM on November 2, 2004


I call bullocks on the campaign. Those photos have been around for years. I first saw them on the cover of a poetry collection by a Toronto writer whose name I forget right now. There were about 10 or 12 pix in the series then. I've also seen the pix used on other things and each time the person's name is different. (On the poetry book she's referred to as a Toronto addict and prostitute.)

Though I've no doubt that heroin (the photos are of a heroin addict, not a crack addict) can do that to a person, I become suspect when the "facts" keep changing on a campaign. It's like the story about the Harvard study that proved that people who write down their goals accomplish them and that those that don't write 'em don't get 'em done. That story was bandied about for decades before someone decided to check into it and found out it was a complete fabrication.
posted by dobbs at 11:36 AM on November 2, 2004


Personal anecdote: I faithfully wear a bicycle helmet when riding bikes because of an advertisement that convinced me that it's absolutely stupid to not wear a helmet.

So at least one public health safety campaign worked for at least one person.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:36 AM on November 2, 2004


I'm going to have to say that from a college kid's standpoint, I expect my friends and peers to have the same medical view of drugs I do. Like I realize that one hit of crack is not going to do that much harm, the body can easily deal with it, just like it can deal with one punch to the stomach. I'm also well aware of the physical effects of other less physicall damaging drugs. Maybe this is because I'm an Internet child and have visited all the Erowids of the world.

What does surprise me is how effective these ads are. There's a good majority of people out there that don't understand medical reasoning behind it. And I don't mean understanding how the brain's receptors react to cocaine or how it is metabolized in the liver. They simply think that drugs are bad, because bad people do drugs. Misinformation (or misleading information) is perhaps a graver sin then no information at all. We shouldn't fear drugs, but understand them.
posted by geoff. at 11:37 AM on November 2, 2004


There's a good majority of people out there that don't understand medical reasoning behind it....They simply think that drugs are bad, because bad people do drugs.

They may not understand the science, but In my experience, most people who've known someone who's been an addict or alcoholic (which I imagine is the majority of people) realize things don't hold quite as simplistic views of the subject as you imagine. It's more along the lines of "Don't mess with drugs, they can make you into a bad person," which isn't a completely accurate of full view of the situation, but still more perceptive.
posted by jonmc at 11:52 AM on November 2, 2004


The armchair speculators in this thread are hilarious....

You know what has been researched to be the #1 effective advertising deterrent for teenagers? Vanity!

Example: the most effective anti-smoking ads with teenagers these days make note of stinky clothing, tarred teeth, and wrinkling.

(The only problem with this crack ad, IMO, is their subject is 29+, double the lifespan of their target audience. Good idea, poor execution.)
posted by Mach3avelli at 12:12 PM on November 2, 2004


You know what has been researched to be the #1 effective advertising deterrent for teenagers? Vanity!
I think you mean, the #1 advertising tool full stop. As for the age group, maybe they are the target audience - makes you think!
posted by DrDoberman at 1:10 PM on November 2, 2004


mach3avelli: teenagers is a _too wide_ range for a target group...you really believe all teenager react adversely to image negators ?
posted by elpapacito at 2:34 PM on November 2, 2004


Heroin suppresses the appetite, a bit. Also, it causes constipation, so reducing the need to feed.

Crack does neither of these things, AFAIK. However, if you were poor and addicted, I suppose you might spend your money on crack rather than cake (not the Morrisian kind, you young scamp).

As usual, any reasonable drug habit can be sustained by the rich. If you can afford good quality heroin, and do not allow it to dominate your life, and use clean works, you can expect no adverse physical or mental effects. Unlike say, alcohol or tobacco.
Also from the BBC:
'Most of the physical harm from heroin comes from the accidental injection of viruses and harmful bacteria through sharing and reusing injecting equipment. Increasingly, drug agencies are supplying addicts with sterile disposable syringes and needles, but better still is to get heroin addicts out of injecting altogether.

Synthetic opiates such as methadone can be prescribed to addicts, and a daily dose taken by mouth will prevent craving and withdrawal. However these drugs are also very addictive, sometimes more so than heroin. And because they give little 'reward', addicts often continue to use heroin as well as their substitute prescription.

Nonetheless methadone prescribing has been shown to reduce deaths and infection rates amongst heroin addicts, as well as reduce criminality.'

posted by asok at 3:21 PM on November 2, 2004


Oh, and crack is fucking great, according to a 'friend'; imagine ecstasy and cocaine experiences compacted into 10-15 mins. Had a rather weak hit once and, just like a first time coke meddler babbled for the next 15 minutes, until the experience was over. Never wanted to do it again, as it is such a vicious high. This is also why it sells itself to those who have low self-esteem.

The scene in 'Six Feet Under' where David does crack with the psycho he picks up is pretty accurate, AFAIK.
posted by asok at 3:29 PM on November 2, 2004


Had a rather weak hit once and, just like a first time coke meddler babbled for the next 15 minutes

Exactly. I've done blow a total of twice in my life. The first time was off of my freinds framed Tennessee Williams autograph. I spent about a half hour babbling "I don't feeeel anything? Do you feel anything? Hah? Hah??" and then getting up and doing curls on my freinds weight set. The second time was when some spaced out lawyer woman picked up me, then two other dudes in a bar, then went to an after hours joint on 110th Street hwre she bought an eightball and we snarfed it off her fine china, and chased it with Budweiser. The end effect was the same.

Just say no, kids.
posted by jonmc at 5:32 PM on November 2, 2004


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