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Stand Against Shaming of People Who Use Drugs










Last week an Ohio Police Department posted photos on social media of two people in the midst of an apparent opioid overdose in their car. The identities of the people were not blurred and according to police reports one of the individuals’ head was “bobbing back and forth” and the other was “turning blue.”

The police officers chose to take photos and share them to social media in an effort to publicly shame the two individuals. The images were then picked up by a large number of media outlets who helped spread the photos in a viral click-bait frenzy. Harm Reduction Coalition condemns this deplorable act of public shaming, violation of privacy and stigmatizing of people who use drugs. In the words of journalist Maia Szalavitz, quoted in The Verge,

“We would never do anything like that to somebody who just had a heart attack, or somebody who just had a suicide attempt, or any other medical condition.”

As Sarah Beller notes in The Influence,

“In a place where everyone knows someone, or knows someone who knows someone, who has died of an overdose, heroin hardly needs to be further demonized…. By violating the privacy of all the people in the photo, the police contributed to the stigma that puts heroin users at greater risk.”

Harm Reduction Coalition stands against the shaming of people who use drugs. We ask you to stand in solidarity with people who use drugs and download a banner below to share on social media with the hashtag #againstshame. Together we can reject the culture of shaming and affirm the dignity and humanity of people who use drugs.

Download banner to share on social media. 

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