They are the type of horrific photos that are supposed to shock people out of using drugs.
Showcasing mug shots of methamphetamine users dramatically changing in appearance as their addiction to the powerful drug increases, the latest ad campaign by the company Rehabs.com is designed to appeal to vain teens.
But one psychologist is slamming the headline-grabbing move, saying it’s “health terrorism” that will not change the behaviors of its target audience.
Called “The Horrors of Methamphetamines” the infographic is more like a horror movie come to life than an ad campaign. Mug shots of meth addicts are posted side-by-side showing them before and after the drug ravaged their faces and ruined their lives.
RadarOnline.com has the images that show attractive 20-somethings – within a couple of years of taking meth – transforming into what looks like hollow-cheeked burn victims decades older than their true age.
According to Rehabs.com, meth addicts develop acne and obsessively scratch their skin until it’s covered in sores and scars a “result of a common sensory hallucination of bugs crawling beneath the skin.” Their gums recede, their teeth shrink and their weight plummets because they have no appetite.
But psychologist and substance abuse expert Dr. Dolores Cimini has slammed the shocking campaign as “health terrorism.”
“Adolescents are egocentric and say: ‘It’s not going to happen to me,'” she tells The Huffington Post.
“Ads such as this when presented alone do not have research evidence behind them that they work to change the behavior of meth users.”
Dan Tynski, Rehabs.com’s project manager disagrees though, noting that since the campaign launched last week the number of hits on their website has soared.
“I’d say the target audience is probably a social audience who would want to share it on Facebook or Twitter,” he says.
It has an additional benefit for the start-up company. Tynski admits: “We want to raise awareness about Rehabs.com, to get the name out there.”
It’s not the first time this type of shock tactic has been used to scare young people away from the drug. The Multnomah County Sheriff in Oregon pioneered the move with its Faces Of Meth campaign.