As someone who has been indirectly affected by the opioid crisis, but deeply and wholeheartedly affected nonetheless, the last thing I would ever want to do is speak for those directly affected by drug use. The road to and from addiction is long and winding; it is so deeply ingrained into the specific life of the addict that there is not even a way to sum it up for those who have never been affected.
What we can do, though, is to take bits and pieces from past addicts who continue their walk in recovery and self-awareness, but through this process, have removed themselves from the emotional turmoil that a struggling addict endures. So that is the intent of this work, with photojournalism as a medium.
The drug epidemic is one of the most pressing humanitarian tragedies that has plagued our country, and its history of terrorism is just as pressing as the present nightmare. Many minorities and poorer urban communities have suffered for decades from the influx of drugs, and for many of them, it has been harder to get the immense support required to fight such an epidemic.
But the common notion that drug abuse is just a problem for a particular race or station in life has now been thrown out the window. The opioid crisis has reached the top of the latter, affecting mainly white suburbia and beyond; politicians and their kids, the wealthy, the “stable.”
Despite differences in who or how addiction grabs ahold of people, the commonality remains. Drug addiction claims almost 200 lives every day in the US. (www.drugabuse.gov) That’s considered a National Crisis.
Although I have really only just begun documenting this topic, the objective stands strong:
What do those who have fought addiction have to say about recovery? What is truly important in this challenging process? How can we learn from each other to better understand this phenomenon and hopefully change how this country deals with it?
I hope people will simply start talking about this so that we can make societal changes from the ground up. The U.S. government cannot solve this; it isn’t just another policy. This is the fragility of the human life at hand, and we must be the ones to find out what will save us.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you can find an abundance of information and resources on www.okrehab.org. OK Rehab aims to help individuals break free from the shackles of addiction and find a treatment that’s ideally suited to their needs.