Search Box

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Worth a thousand words

One of the more interesting websites I've stumbled across is the following:

It's fairly well known; you may have already seen it. It is from the Faces of Meth project, which originated in the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, where Deputy Bret King had the brilliant idea to document the mug shots of people who had succumbed to the temptations of methamphetamine. These before and after shots are essentially extreme negative makeovers, showing the incredibly destructive effects that meth can have in a surprisingly short time.

For instance, the following two shots:

In just two and a half years this woman has gone from being a MILF to a MIDNLF (with the "DN" standing for "definitely not"). In the lefthand shot she wears a pleasant expression, and looks quite serene for someone posing for a mug shot. She appears the kind of woman who would probably be quite embarrassed that her family will find out she had to go to court to clear up her DUI. By the time the righthand shot was taken she had clearly moved beyond embarrassment. She looks like an alcoholic grandmother whose common law husband just beat her up because she hid the moonshine under their trailer.

This fellow has undergone an equally dramatic transformation. In the shot on the left he looks like a former star linebacker whose greatest disappointment in life was that his NFL career never materialized. So now he works as a lumberjack (he didn't study hard in college) and takes his frustrations out by beating the crap out of anyone who looks at his girlfriend the wrong way. In fact, the look he's giving you right now seems to indicate that you're in for the same treatment yourself. In the photo on the right, also taken just two and a half years later, he looks as if he's pleading piteously with you not to beat the crap out of him for having offered you oral sex in the men's room of the local Greyhound Terminal. Pride, which loomed so large in his previous persona, seems no longer to be a factor.

These are just two of the many sets of photographs from the project.

Not all of the transformations are quite so dramatic, but many are. In just a couple years, meth addicts develop skin lesions, their lips grow thinner, they lose their muscle, and their skin sags and turns ashen. Both genders appear to lose their sex hormones. And whatever gleam they had in their eyes is replaced by a dull, vacant stare.

In other words, the meth has stripped them of their humanity.

All the photographs are mug shots, so some of the subjects may not have been upstanding citizens to begin with. But a lot of the earlier shots simply look like the mug shots of celebrities you might see on The later shots often make them look like extras from Night of the Living Dead.

If you have a child you think might be at risk for hard drugs, show him these photos. Just tell him, "Go ahead and take meth. It'll be great, 'cause in just two or three years we'll look the same age, so we'll be able to hang out more and go to the same parties."

There are, by the way, around five hundred words in this post. Even if I had written twice as many, I never could have had close to the same impact as the photos themselves, proving that old adage a drastic understatement.


Anonymous said...

I've seen these and other mug shots of meth addicts and I believe they should be shared with all children -- not just those felt to be at risk for serious drug addiction. I've shared them with my own kids, even though they are young. There may be indicators for those at risk of addiction, but it is not always easy to predict who will succumb to the temptation of that first "high". And once hooked, it is almost impossible to reel any of them back in.

John Craig said...

Good point. I think it's also true that if you tell a kid that taking a certain drug will cut his lifespan from, say, 75 to 65, it won't have a huge impact on him. But if you show him how it will affect his near term appearance, it will. Appealing to someone's vanity is effective in all sorts of circumstances.

Anonymous said...