The Opioid Crisis Goes Live On TV And Social Media

By Dr. John Rosa


More and more law enforcement offices throughout the country are wearing body cameras and capturing people overdosing live.

These videos are ending up on local as well as national news shows and are going viral on social media. For some, this publicity comes as a wake-up call. – maybe not so welcome, but a wake-up call nonetheless. For others, this kind of unexpected publicity presents just another harsh episode in an already untenable life. But, with the opioid crisis continuing to grow and the prevalence of video equipped smart phones and the popularity of social media, we can expect the coverage and the humiliation to continue.

What A Way To Find Out Your Loved One Is On Drugs

Imagine seeing your mom or dad, your brother or sister, your son or daughter or someone you know and love on the evening news, passed on, overdosed and possibly even dying right before your eyes. Imagine not knowing and finding out this way that your loved one is doing drugs. That is the case in some instances. Imagine seeing yourself this way.

The New York Times published a 3-part series on the opioid crisis called Hooked In America, in which it was stated that not only law enforcement but also “strangers with cameras have started posting raw, uncensored images of drug users passed out with needles in their arms and babies in the back seats of their cars The videos rack up millions of views and unleash avalanches of outrage.”

Public Shaming To Help End The Epidemic Is Questionable

Without question public humiliation has its effect on the addicted exposed on TV and/or social media. But, whether the effect is positive or not remains iffy. By filming the overdoses and sending them to the news media, police departments say they are simply trying to reveal the brutal reality of what they see every day.

According to the New York Times article, deputy director of policy and planning at the Harm Reduction Coalition, an advocacy group, Daniel Raymond says, “We’re showing you this video of them at the worst, most humiliating moment of their life. The intent is not to help these people. The intent is to use them as an object lesson by scapegoating them.”

The horrific images of addicts overdosed with their young children crying as their parents are passed on in retail stores or in the back of overheated cars may serve to prevent some people from every taking drugs of any kind. However, are these images serving to put an end to the opioid epidemic?

The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT!

What this process does is fuel the stigma associated with this disease. It is the reason that only one in ten suffering from addiction seek help. The stigma and humiliation that these people feel only causes them to look for another escape and continue to use. A recent poll showed that almost 70% of our population blames the addicted for the problem. This is all wrong and only fuels the flames of stigma.

If 80% of heroin users started with a prescription medication, then you tell me who is to blame?

The people, for the most part have been duped by a system that was meant to protect us. Most people with view these videos and say, “Look at what the people are doing to themselves.” My dream with every fiber of my heart and soul is to have people see such videos and say, “Look at what we did to you all.”

The real question is, “how do we as a nation put an end to the desire to solve pain and problems with a pill?”


Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Even though he said that in 1736 when Philadelphia was burning, it is equally applicable to today’s opioid epidemic. How do we prevent doctors from prescribing opioids for pain relief? How do we impress upon those in pain that there are other, safer, healthier roads to pain-free living?

If you, or someone you love is dependent on or addicted to opioid drugs, please seek help before it’s too late. If you would like to learn more about the Opioid Crisis as it relates to awareness, prevention and treatment or schedule a corporate or organization seminar contact us at Here you will learn how to connect you, your company or organization with the leading experts on the crisis and how to help your community stay safe.