Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


East Europe IV Drug Use Images
March 25, 2006 11:45 PM   Subscribe

Be Warned: some very disturbing and NSFW intravenous drug abuse images from Eastern Europe. [More Inside]
posted by peacay (39 comments total)

 
Beyond the obviously thought-provoking and shocking nature of these images, themes of AIDS awareness, education and treatment; govt. policing, drugs and prison policies; cultivation and transport routes; economic and social conditions; U.N. and international govt. efforts and attitudes; and no doubt other considerations are brought to mind.

So although I think the images are important enough on their own to post, I selected a few (mostly brief) papers to give some contextual background to the circumstances of Eastern Europe.
{Thanks to OmieWise for some email advice.}

*Future drug policy in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc - The difficult choice to be non Western. 1993.

*UNAIDS: AIDS Epidemic Explodes in Eastern Europe. 2000.

*Harm Reduction Where HIV Is Moving the Fastest: A Talk with Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch [Director of the International Harm Reduction Program of the Open Society]. 2001.

*UNAIDS: Eastern Europe and Central Asia. 2001.

*Fact Sheet:HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. 2002.

*UN Office on Drugs and Crime - Executive Director's Address in Moscow - Session Five: Injecting Drug Users and HIV/AIDS in Prisons. 2005.

*European HIV & AIDS Statistics. 2005.
posted by peacay at 11:46 PM on March 25, 2006


Jesus; Requiem For A Dream, anyone?


posted by p3on at 11:59 PM on March 25, 2006


More like Trainspotting.
posted by Gyan at 12:01 AM on March 26, 2006


There's the Dogwood Center, covering "injection-related HIV, the neglected 40 percent of HIV prevention in the United States".
posted by Gyan at 12:03 AM on March 26, 2006


Jesus christ... is that guy dead? Because he looks pretty well shaved for a dead junkie.
posted by wfrgms at 12:46 AM on March 26, 2006


Also I just think it's interesting that probably this same level of depravity exists here in the US but for some reason we probably don't see it.
posted by wfrgms at 12:49 AM on March 26, 2006


He may not be dead. And plenty of addicts hold down jobs that require them to be clean-shaven; it would be even harder to get the money you need if you didn't work. You may well be aquainted with IV users and not know it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:52 AM on March 26, 2006


He looks too pink to be dead. The dead junkies I've seen have been shockingly blue. Those guys would all look slightly less scary if the photographer hadn't used such a short lens.
posted by surlycat at 1:20 AM on March 26, 2006


Whack... I keep coming back to this FPP... I'm blown away by the photos. Peacay, excellent (and horrifying) find.
posted by wfrgms at 1:25 AM on March 26, 2006


surlycat, what do you do / where do you live?
posted by ori at 1:34 AM on March 26, 2006


surlycat : "Those guys would all look slightly less scary if the photographer hadn't used such a short lens."

Especially true of the baby with a harelip.
posted by Bugbread at 1:35 AM on March 26, 2006


The wide angle lens is just an amplifier. You know how kittens and puppies look extra cute shot with a 28mm lens? This is the same effect in reverse.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:37 AM on March 26, 2006


Whats with that girl with apparent cancrene of the leg ?

Also
his same level of depravity exists here in the US but for some reason we probably don't see it.

It's probably being kept under a lid, as apparently meth abuse is widespread in the U.S. and with similar consequence.

I think that the depictions of how drug junkies end up may primarily appeal to some kind of people who have a fascination with death and decadence...but other people is likely to be repulsed if the pictures are connected with the sloooooow agony, incredible desperation and fragility of the abusers of some drug.

I guess some smart depiction combined with well constructed identification and the knowledge that most drug junkies end in that misery without help , could be an incredibly powerful dissuasor, far more then any war on drug.
posted by elpapacito at 1:58 AM on March 26, 2006


My ex-wife (Kyrgyz) manages an AIDS awareness NGO here, part of their job is needle exchange.

They used to do their exchanges in the known heroin selling locations, until recently police started putting up cordons and keeping them out.

Recently, her workers were able to reestablish contact with the junkies and do the needle exchange elsewhere. So, why don't the police want the aid workers hanging out near the dealers? Because now the police are the fucking pushers. This confirmed by a number of junkie sources. The corruption adds a whole addirtional level to the tragedy here in Kyrgyzstan.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:04 AM on March 26, 2006


And heroin is dirt cheap here (very close to Afghanistan). I don't have first hand knowledge but apparently a fix is about as much as a pack of smokes ( ~0.75 USD)
posted by Meatbomb at 3:06 AM on March 26, 2006


I've heard often that around 60,000 people in Baltimore, MD use heroin. That's %10 of the population! Supporting Link

Hard Drug abuse is more widespread than you'd think.

It's also said that crack cocaine never really went away either, with consumption only down a third from it's high during the media craze about the crack epidemic back in the late 80's and early 90's. Crack still kills, the media moved on. Now they're in a tizzy about meth.
posted by blasdelf at 3:07 AM on March 26, 2006


I had to sit through a score of anti-drug films when I went to school in the 70s, and it was always the same: we all laughed our way through them, and left thinking, "Man, we have got to get some of that stuff!"

They should have just shown us a few pictures of real junkies, and let us make up our own minds. The truth is far more jarring than the melodramatic fantasies the school board came up with.
posted by Jatayu das at 4:15 AM on March 26, 2006


I've seen IV meth users in the US that look like these pics. Arms all abscessed, weird sores.

Glass and ice smokers aren't much better off, really.

While I'm pro-legalization, pro-education on drugs, meth is a fucking scourge. Sure, there's all kinds of folks that responsibly use all kinds of hard drugs, but meth has been a wildfire, effecting all sorts of disparate segments of the Western world and beyond, from the very poor to the very rich.

My idea of a balanced drug education would involve a critical look at the real differences between various drugs, their effects, their real risks, rather than the Mr. Hat-esque blanket statement of "Drugs are bad, mmmmkay?", combined with the follow-up combo of harm reduction.

Otherwise, this is pretty much what we get. Junkies. A human blight. And a terrible waste, for no good reason at all other then that for some, strange, stupid reason the powers that be and the moral majority erroneously think that all instances of self-medication or recreational experimentation are wrong.
posted by loquacious at 4:20 AM on March 26, 2006


hear hear loquacious..

on the other hand; there is that part of the population which is just unreachable/unsavable ..
posted by borq at 4:51 AM on March 26, 2006


p3on wtf? *some* people didn't click the link b/c they didn't care to see the shots, they only want to read the comments. Not cool.
posted by yoga at 5:01 AM on March 26, 2006


Excellent links, peacay.

The AIDS epidemic in ther former Soviet block is entirely fueled by IVDU, and it's getting really really bad.
posted by OmieWise at 5:33 AM on March 26, 2006


This could be the next youth-oriented apparel catalog.
posted by jaysus chris at 5:41 AM on March 26, 2006


[moved p30n's big junkie image to behind a link]
posted by jessamyn at 6:20 AM on March 26, 2006


Wow. How sad. Photos like these should be shown in every classroom on drug awareness. I agree with loquacious-more information on just what the different drugs will do to the body, and the effects on those around them, ie: family members, friends, etc. Stop pussyfooting around the facts and start showing the realities of drug abuse. Heroin chic isn't cool, it's pathetic.
posted by annieb at 7:05 AM on March 26, 2006


Wow, that's gross.

Except the girl hitting the bong looked fine.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:21 AM on March 26, 2006


Not that she was fine, especially if that was her jabbing herself in the next picture, but she was shockingly fat for that crowd.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:22 AM on March 26, 2006


Wow. Thanks, peacay.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:55 AM on March 26, 2006


Uh-huh- nothing tells you whether to get on a road like seeing people who've been walking it. I used to live in Vancouver BC, and Hastings St. is a pretty good 3 mile long anti-drug ad in itself. When I have kids, I plan on taking them by there to see for themselves...
posted by yeloson at 8:17 AM on March 26, 2006


But Kate Moss still looks hot. Let's not confuse the problem, the poverty and terrible healthcare of the former Soviet bloc nations. I thought we were all englightened that drug abuse is an unfortunate consequence of a much more insidious problem.
posted by geoff. at 10:38 AM on March 26, 2006


I grew up with the "don't do drugs" message. It worked well with me. But I think that the message should really be, "don't do drugs, but if you are going to do drugs, DON"T DO THESE FUCKING DRUGS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES." I imagine plenty of people smoke pot, nothing happens, and they feel that the "don't do drugs" message is a load of bullshit. So they try the next one. There needs to be a distinction made between drugs that aren't so bad and drugs that are going to kill users or ruin their lives. When I was 12 or so, I had no idea what the danger difference was between marijuana, heroin, coke, etc.
posted by flarbuse at 10:44 AM on March 26, 2006


So incredibly sad.

He may not be dead

Sure, technically, but what kind of a life is it? One of pain, desperation, hopelessness, punctuated occasionally by short bursts of oblivion? Here I am sitting in my centrally heated conservatory, typing a comment into my laptop, and I've just been feeling sorry for myself because I'm tired and it's raining. This certainly puts things in perspective.

Also: WTF? Mulder & Scully?
posted by nylon at 11:11 AM on March 26, 2006


yeloson >>> "and Hastings St. is a pretty good 3 mile long anti-drug ad in itself."

Yeah. It's fucking scary. When you've seen a junkie get on the bus at 3am (the one that heads out to Burnaby; can't remember the route #), calmly walk to the back, and take a leak all over the bus, you tend to start thinking, "Hmm, perhaps heroin isn't such a good idea." When you've seen a similar junkie pass out in his seat, the needle still stuck in his arm, you really get it.

i_am_joe's_spleen >>> "You may well be aquainted with IV users and not know it."

According to Postsecret, there's at least one [direct link to JPG, SFW]
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:20 AM on March 26, 2006


Except the girl hitting the bong looked fine.

I was wondering that, too- they both looked reasonably healthy. The woman in the next picture is definitely not either of them- check the necklace. It's almost like some college guy put this portfolio together and accidentally dropped one of his own, uh, "candids" in there.

They should have just shown us a few pictures of real junkies, and let us make up our own minds. The truth is far more jarring than the melodramatic fantasies the school board came up with.

Amen to that.
posted by mkultra at 11:22 AM on March 26, 2006


God, how horribly depressing. The saddest part is knowing that we're watching people who are already dead- that even if they're technically alive right now, they simply aren't going to survive much longer. With those sores lesions, with those skinny bodies... it's like watching someone die slowly and painfully. Even intervention won't save them, so many of them are so far gone. Get them off the drugs, and then what would they have? The crushing reality of the situation would put them right back on it- at this point, they're just staying numb until they die, so they never have to face what their life has become. It's just so hard to look at... a human life ruined.
posted by hincandenza at 12:37 PM on March 26, 2006


Except the girl hitting the bong looked fine.

I thought the same thing, the pot smokers looked fine.

The pictures are pretty terrible, but you can make any thing look bad with enough selectivity.
posted by delmoi at 1:17 PM on March 26, 2006


God, how horribly depressing. The saddest part is knowing that we're watching people who are already dead- that even if they're technically alive right now, they simply aren't going to survive much longer. With those sores lesions, with those skinny bodies... it's like watching someone die slowly and painfully.

The way they look, I think, is mostly due to a lack of sanitation (look at how dirty they are) and medical care. We're all going to die some day, but if these people had access to clean drugs and clean needles and clean living conditions they would not look like this.
posted by delmoi at 1:19 PM on March 26, 2006


They should have just shown us a few pictures of real junkies, and let us make up our own minds. The truth is far more jarring than the melodramatic fantasies the school board came up with.

Some school districts are showing kids pictures of people with late-stage STDs in order to scare them off having sex as part of abstinence only education.

Not everyone who has sex ends up horribly sick with advanced AIDS, and not everyone who uses drugs ends up looking like those in the pictures.

In my high school health class we had a guy come in to talk about living with AIDS. This guy looked perfectly normal and healthy, but at one point he had been an IV drug user. He got HIV right when it first started getting media play, but he was fine.

The point is, if you look at the worst of the worst, it's going to look pretty bad. I'm all for more precise education, and while I don't know about Meth, I'm pretty sure heroin won't hurt you too badly if the drugs are pure.

Of course, in some crap hole country there might not even be good medical care for anyone, so it would be best to stay away from hard drugs like that.
posted by delmoi at 1:26 PM on March 26, 2006


What's amazing are the number of idiots in this country (USA) who still mess with hard drugs.

Stupid is as stupid does.
posted by HTuttle at 3:47 PM on March 26, 2006


Yeah. It's fucking scary. When you've seen a junkie get on the bus at 3am (the one that heads out to Burnaby; can't remember the route #), calmly walk to the back, and take a leak all over the bus, you tend to start thinking, "Hmm, perhaps heroin isn't such a good idea

The 135.

I was down there today, waiting for that exact bus at the corner of Main and Hastings. It's a sea of human wreckage, though it must be said that there are a great many agencies/community activists/former users/health care workers doing what they can to help. It's just that they're never going to solve it... conditions in Eastern Europe are terrible right now-- I've been reading emails this last week from a friend who's in Romania. Soul-destroying poverty, hideous exploitation.
posted by jokeefe at 10:04 PM on March 26, 2006


« Older People are tagging themselves, with microchips. [v...  |  Addwaita is no longer. He has... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments