You’ve likely experienced this before: you to log onto your Facebook account and are quickly greeted by a photo of someone passed out who has overdosed on drugs.
The photo was posted without the person’s consent by a bystander. The photo may have even been posted by your local police department.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people in the U.S. die every day from opioid overdose. Some people believe that posting these photos will help encourage discourse about the epidemic, while others argue that the photos unnecessarily shame and stigmatize addicts.
But one thing is clear – nobody wants the worst moment of their life to be photographed and posted on social media.
Matt Ganem, Executive Director of Banyan Massachusetts, recently spoke about this issue to the New York Times. Ganem decided to start offering scholarships to Banyan Treatment Centers to individuals whose overdose pictures were posted online.
These pictures can add to the shame and isolation that addicts are already experiencing. Access to affordable treatment from licensed clinicians can be extremely beneficial to those who suffer from addiction.
If you do happen to stumble across someone who is overdosing, don’t stop to snap a photo – call 911 and wait until paramedics arrive. It could mean the difference between life and death for the victim, and not publicizing their struggles can make it easier for them to get and maintain long term sobriety.