By Harm Reduction Educators Steff Pinch and Marissa Martins
The Faces of Meth anti-drug campaign originated in Multnomah, Oregon in 2002. The campaign featured dozens of mugshots of people charged with methamphetamine (crystal, ice, speed) possession, in an attempt to scare youth from trying the drug with graphic before and after shots.
While methamphetamines can have negative side-affects like weight loss, appetite reduction, and delusional parasitosis (ie skin picking and itching), the Faces of Meth campaign is a mixture of chaotic, long-term methamphetamine use combined with the negative health outcomes of poverty and criminalization. For example, burn marks and lesions around the skin can be attributed to lack of access to clean and heat-proof supplies to smoke the drug. A pipe made of low-grade glass (a lightbulb) or without a proper mouthpiece increases the chance of a wound or burn. With access to new sterile supplies, many of these effects can be avoided.
What this campaign more accurately represents are the social determinants of health. We know that anti-drug fear mongering like the Just Say No campaign, the D.A.R.E program and countless others fail to stop people from using but do increase stigma. In fact, the stigma around meth is so pervasive that other drug users will discriminate against people who use the drug. Oregon’s legislative response to the campaign, to create stricter laws around ingredients to meth production, was largely ineffective at stopping folks from using the drug.
If you would like more information about harm reduction, printed materials or have questions, please reach out to the Harm Reduction Educators at (416) 252-6471 ext 756
Join the LAMP CHC Harm Reduction Educators for an informative lunch and learn on Wednesdays from 1pm-2pm in room 30