Published March 28, 2014
A new anti-drug campaign called, “More Than Meth: Faces of Drug Arrests,” is gaining national attention for its startling imagery illustrating the physical decline of drug users over time, as evidenced in their mug shots.
The campaign was created by the web site Rehabs.com, which seeks to connect people who are looking for help with addiction or substance abuse with care providers or professionals who can help them.
“The epidemic of addiction is taking horrible tolls on our country, on our society,” Abhilash Patel, co-founder of Recovery Brands, which owns Rehabs.com, told FoxNews.com. “We want to call attention and awareness to the devastating effects of these drugs and compel or motivate people who want help to get it in whatever form they get it, whether through us or anyone else.”
The multimedia campaign highlights the various effects that drugs— including cocaine, methamphetamines, heroine and oxycodone— can have on a person’s physical appearance. The forms of physical destruction brought on by these drugs range from tooth decay, facial sores and accelerated aging to skin abscesses, scabbing and severe weight loss.
To illustrate these effects, the campaign includes a series of mug shots from men and women ranging from age 18 to 54, who have been arrested multiple times for charges including drug possession or drug paraphernalia possession. Images from early arrests show young, fresh faces – but over time, and with more arrests, each person’s physical decline is shockingly apparent, as they become aged, scarred and scabbed.
While the images are shocking, Patel said they are not intended to shame drug users – but rather to draw attention to the devastating effects of addiction.
“We do not in any way intend to call into question people or addicts or alcoholics or anyone who might be suffering from addiction,” Patel said. “We believe it’s not about the people, it’s about the drugs; the intent is not to stigmatize, but to bring awareness to the horrible effects of drugs.”
The campaign is a follow-up to an earlier campaign that also featured faces of drug users, titled, “The Horrors of Methamphetamines.” After the earlier campaign, Patel said Rehabs.com received an influx of phone calls from people seeking help for addiction problems, in addition to those interested in reusing the images for educational purposes.
“We got law enforcement, border agents and education professionals who wanted to use this in their materials,” Patel said. “And we want to support anyone however we can, if their intention is to try to stem the root problem of addiction in the country.”
Though the campaign acknowledges that the physical deterioration visible in the mug shot photos used may not necessarily be due entirely due to drug use, but they argue that, together, these pictures paint a clear picture of the dangers of addiction.
“For whatever reason people really connect to images of faces,” Patel said. “They see the faces of people they love, people around them and these drugs are all around us, and it is very impactful in that way.”