Last week (March 26), the Daily Mail ran a story regarding the ‘Faces of Meth’ campaign from Rehabs.com. The US-based online addiction referral organisation began the campaign to help raise awareness of the dangers of using methamphetamine. Their marketing method of choice is to show videos and pictures demonstrating the physical toll methamphetamine takes on the body. Indeed, seeing the faces of addicts as they progress through their addictions is startling. However, the ad campaign may not tell the whole story.

According to practicing psychiatrist and FOX News contributor Dr Keith Ablow, the Rehabs.com ad campaign only shows the darker side of methamphetamine addiction as it relates to criminals who are arrested for a number of drug-related offences. Moreover, while that is certainly a big part of the problem, Dr Ablow says that not all methamphetamine users go down that road. He recently wrote a blog post saying that many of his meth using patients do not ‘look the part’.

He likened them to doctors, lawyers, athletes, and even models – individuals that look completely healthy even as they battle methamphetamine addiction in secret. Furthermore, most of them are likely to go their entire lives without being arrested. Therefore, even though their faces do not belie the addiction underneath, they are suffering nonetheless.

Faces of Meth

Other Approaches

Dr Ablow believes other approaches are necessary to reach these kinds of individuals. The Faces of Meth campaign is probably effective in reaching young people and those who have already been arrested a time or two. Nevertheless, for the folks Ablow works with, other strategies might be appropriate. He suggests some of the following:

  • Finances – Professionals take a great deal of pride in the amount of money they earn and, to a certain extent, what they are able to do with it. By sitting down with the meth user and plugging the cost of his drugs into his budget, it is possible to get his attention solely based on the amount of money he is spending. Remember, very few people ever establish a budget on paper. Getting them to do so is a good motivator for changing behaviour.
  • Sexual Function – Assuming the Faces of Meth campaign goes well beyond just methamphetamine use, Dr Ablow believes talking about sexual function for alcohol and cocaine users is a good idea – especially if they are men. He says that sexual dysfunction is a side effect of drug use than many abusers complain about.
  • Health Issues – Some Drugs, like oxycodone, have very unpleasant side effects like chronic constipation. Talking about the side effects, including showing real-life videos of the side effects in action, might be enough to wake up the user who is just getting started in his addiction.

We should point out that Dr Ablow is not necessarily against the Faces of Meth campaign as a tool to discourage drug use and abuse. He just believes that the campaign does not tell the whole truth. He believes other strategies are just as appropriate for reaching certain kinds of users and abusers.

No Use is Good Use

If we may, we would like to point out the fact that no amount of recreational drug use is good.  Crystal meth addiction is a true problem for the human body and affects the mind in severe ways. There are very good reasons for governments around the world banning all sorts of addictive substances, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Moreover, while alcohol is not strictly outlawed, it should be used with extreme caution as well.

More than one person has found him or herself recreationally using one day, only to find them self fully addicted a few weeks or months down the road. That could be you.

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