• Fri, Feb 17 2012

Facebook Makes Drug Addiction Look So Pretty

be an addicts cure

UPDATE: A woman pictured contacted us to let us know that she did not provide permission for her picture to be used in these ads. We are trying to get more information on this.

My Facebook sponsored posts section seems dedicated to 1) telling me my peripheral acquaintances love Pretzel Crisps and 2) convincing me to be “an addict’s cure!” But why would I want to do that when drug addiction looks so unbelievably glamorous and involves such terrific hair dye?

Here are some of the women pictured in the “Be An Addicts Cure” ads:

addicts cure

It’s cool how drug addiction makes you look like Milla Jovovich in The 5th Element.

I always see these ads and think that it’s pretty impressive the way these people are taking time away from presumably shooting heroin into their eyeballs to make sure that their roots are perfectly maintained. Now, admittedly, they don’t say what addiction you’ll be curing – it could be an addiction to “perfectly applying make-up” or “being luminous.” “Being luminous and having a commitment to eating well and physical fitness”, maybe.

But if it’s not that, it’s so weird, because all this time, I thought that addicts looked like addicts, and not like super-humanly beautiful aliens from the future. I actually thought they looked like this. What a fool I was.

Look, that is not to say that very, very, very beautiful people do not become drug addicts. They do. But it does seem that maybe the people you want as substance abuse counselors are not the people lured in by the promise of  supermodel-beautiful, presumably vulnerable women.

A friend of mine responded to the Addict’s Cure ads by remarking, “now, this looks like the type of girl I would eventually like to marry, so I don’t think I’m fully qualified.” I don’t think I’m fully qualified either because my cure session is going to involve me sitting in front of her saying things like “so how do you make your hair rainbow? Can you help me make mine rainbow?”

The alternate explanation, as one friend pointed out is that once you cure these people, they will be like beautiful space aliens that you molded out of pathetic clay. “Like you’re Pygmalion, and they are Galatea, and then you can marry them” my friend noted. This actually makes more sense, but I guess Build-A-Wife strikes me a scary project! A scary project because it puts an awful lot of responsibility on you, and an insane amount of responsibility on whoever you are counseling. Will you be responsible for making sure their roots never show? Or will they? I don’t even know.

I get that showing really pretty woman with cool hair is eye-catching and draws your attention to the side of the page, but isn’t this… really, seriously, not getting the people who have the sense of virtue that you’d need for such a job? Wouldn’t it be better to show pictures of someone who is experiencing at least one of the symptoms associated with addiction (one of those symptoms is not “glowing skin” or “perfect hair”). If you’re won over because “I like the pictures of all the pretty ladies!” that seems like it should actually disqualify you from working with people who are at an extremely fragile point in their lives.

And in conclusion: do you think they’re just wearing wigs in the photos? It must take so much work to keep your hair that perfect.

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  • traci

    ok- i am going to comment on this just because it totally rubbed me the wrong way. after i swore i wasn’t going to traffic this site anymore i opted to give it a chance today out of boredom at work. lo and behold i come across this. the fact that you have in it your brain that addicts only look like the ” Faces of meth” shows how desperatly wrong and sheltered you really are. which is so sad. roughly 1 in 25 people are addicts. and trust me, they don’t all look like it. someone in your office, or your building, or even your family more than likely has that secret that they carry around with them. and 70 % of them, DON’T look like the ” faces of meth “.

    • Nancy

      Totally true, but I think her point was that the people being portrayed as drug addicts in ads encouraging people to become counselor’s were misleading, not that every drug addict looks like those in the “Faces of Meth” article.

    • traci

      i know. and if i came off bitchy, well ya know. it just pisses me off whenever people make generalizations about addiction. and in my eyes that is what this story was.

  • MR

    Jennifer, I know you mean well here. It’s levels. I think habitual use of any narcotic is when a person steps over. Yes, once they’re in it definately effects their appearance.

  • Meghan Keane

    If these pictures were advertising a hair salon, I would probably go to there.

  • Lizzie

    The author isn’t necessarily saying that all drug addicts look terrible; she’s just saying that not all drug addicts look like supermodels. I don’t see anything wrong with her point that it’s sleazy to glamorize the appearance of drug addicts, which these ads certainly do.
    Also, it’s irritating when people throw around fake statistics like the 70% thing. That was an unecessary touch and some people might take you seriously: that’s what leads to myths like “we only use 10% of our brains.” I doubt that you know for a fact how “most” addicts look, unless you’ve conducted an extensive scientific study and had a pool of participants rank each addict’s attractiveness on a scale of 1-10.

    • Lizzie

      (that was in response to traci- I forgot to click reply)

    • traci

      given the fact that i am an addiction counselor myself and work in a treatment center, i think that i am qualified to ” throw around statistics”. as well as being in recovery i will be the first to admit even at my worst, i made it a point to NEVER look like that. makeup and hair were always perfect. clothes always perfect. it is all about appereances.

    • moses

      I am an addiction counselor and also a former drug addict. And I can tell you: When I was using, I did not look like those girls. And now that I’m a counselor, I don’t look like that either.

    • traci

      i dunno. like i said at my worst, in my darkest addict days, i swear i tried harder to make sure that i DID look perfect, i never once let myself go. did i have pink hair? hell no – that isn’t me, but i did make sure i looked as good as possible. maybe because i am shallow and i am one of those kinda people that have to look as close to perfect as possible on the outside even when i am breaking apart at the seams

  • Sadako

    Um, I think those are meant to be the pictures of the counselors, not the actual addicts.

  • Jamie Peck

    I also resent these photos’ insinuation that “drug addict=tattooed alt chick.” I can stop any time I want, okay??

  • Jan

    You have used a picture of my daughter who is NOT a drug addict. This is highly offensive and can cause her and her business untold damage. I have emailed you to to remove her picture immediately.

    • Jennifer Wright

      Her picture is removed, but all of the women are featured in the Be An Addict’s Cure advertisement.

    • Jan

      If her picture was used it was used without her consent! We are looking into how this has happened. Thank you for removing it. This has been very distressing to her and her family.

  • leslie

    you’ve used a photo of my friend who is not an addict. her photo was simply pulled from her facebook profile. this does not lend any credibility to your piece.

  • Legacy

    Is Facebook using it’s users profile pics in advertisements? Is this a common practice for them? Is it in the user-agreement?

    • Jennifer Wright

      We are going to try to find out more about this, because, if so, that is crazy.

    • Legacy

      That would be great. I honestly never even considered they’d do something like that… especially when they can afford some decent stock photos for their little ads.

  • Sam

    I have blue hair and a fairly decent complexion; clearly, I’m in too deep.

  • Addison

    Almost all social networking sites use peoples profile pictures in ads. I read it in an article on horrifying user agreements. Facebook does this all the time.

    • ellen

      hey addison! do you have the link to that article? i’d be interested to read about it