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Overdose Reporting Guidelines

Substance use can be a complex, if not controversial, topic, and media professionals cannot be expected to be content experts in all things. At PreventEd, we are trained to know and understand the subtleties and sensitivities that come with translating health information to the general public. The responsibility rests on us to enable and equip media to get the message right.

PreventEd has developed recommended guidelines for reporting on overdoses. Substance use disorder should, to the greatest extent possible, be discussed as a public health issue and not an individual failing. Informed reporting can reduce harm and possibly do good by reinforcing messages that treatment works, recovery is possible, and most importantly, there is hope.

Reporting Suggestions

  • Photos/Video
    • Avoid use of triggering substance use-related imagery (i.e., cooking drugs in a spoon)
    • Avoid B-roll of a stereotypical scene (impoverished neighborhood, etc.)
    • DO NOT USE PHOTOS/VIDEOS OF THE OVERDOSE.
  • Speak with a substance use or public health professional, versus a first responder or law enforcement officer.
  • Report on overdoses and substance use disorder as a public health issue.
  • If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately.
  • Offer Hope
    • Treatment works. Recovery is possible. Overdoses don’t have to be fatal.

Language matters. Click here to learn more about the importance of person-first language.

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Main Office

9355 Olive Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63132

info@prevented.org

Phone: 314.962.3456

Franklin County Office

3033 Highway A, Suite 102
Washington, MO 63090

info@prevented.org

Phone: 636.239.7652