Faces of Addiction started as an awareness project to create a fresh understanding of addiction and addicted people through portraits and life stories. It turned out to be much more. About 60 addicted persons were interviewed and photographed, and 55 of those images and narratives have appeared in art shows and a book of the same name.
Many of the portrait volunteers were helped by the process, and some have credited it with helping them get into or to stay in recovery. Relapses are common, but some of these folks are winning the battle.
For me personally, it was an awakening, and it pitched me into a personal ministry, which had not been the original idea at all. I am profoundly grateful to have been able to help so many people’s lives, primarily by listening to them without judgment and with empathy.
The book is showing promise as a therapeutic tool, but making that happen will require cooperation from the drug recovery agencies and from a publisher with the experience and resources needed to reach a wider audience. Because of a rave review of the book by Governor Mike DeWine, I have been added to the state’s Mental Health Task Force, and serve on the committee dealing with stigma and education.
In the past year, Faces of Addiction had two complete showings and three partial showings. The next showing is supposed to include 36 of the images and will open around May 1 in the Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church. One of the images won the Montgomery Photography Contest in April 2019. Additionally, on January 31 of this year, ten of the photos/stories were added to the permanent collection at the Hood Museum of Art in Hanover, New Hampshire.
As for the future, the goal remains the same—exposing the maximum possible number of people to these portraits and stories. Feedback from virtually every viewer has been that the work does exactly what it was designed to do: awaken compassion. Additionally, a few persons are needed to serve on the Faces of Addiction Board of Directors. Ideally, these will be younger persons who are committed to service in this area.
In sum, this effort has been very successful, but it has a way to go to meet its full potential.