Monday, May 20, 2013

Let's make sure they know

I have run across a photographer named Chris Arnade, from the Bronx, NY.  He photographs in Hunt's Point, and gets up close and personal with the addicts of that community.  It seems that heroin and crack have taken their toll on his subjects.

You can see his photos here: 

I have been following Chris on Facebook.  I'm torn sometimes at the value in his photos.  Not that it is the value of his subjects that is in question, but if it helps folks want to help those who need it most, or does it help people stay in the, "those folks don't matter" place because they seem too far gone.

You can see this very thing go on in the comments on Chris' Facebook page.  People really have no idea, and there are many in the "why do they keep doing this to themselves" camp.  The answer?  Disease of addiction, poverty, and no access to the right kind of help.

Very often I am saddened by his descriptions and the photos. They are so real and so personal. I can see in the eyes of the people, the disease and the prison they live in.  I can feel and remember the trap.  These are sometimes hard to look at, and they may seem a bit intrusive.  But they do put a human voice to the people who mostly get looked down upon and tells a story about how they survive each and every day.  How brave it is for them to be so honest.

This is the side of addiction that people imagine in their heads.  These are the addicts people think about when they think about drug addicts.  They maybe don't think about the stay-at-home mom who lives in the suburbs, who is smoking meth in her bedroom.  They think of the prostitute, working for her habit. And the truth is, we all matter.

So I've gone back and forth about these photos.  I can't decide if they are exploitative, intrusive, continue the stigma of who addicts are, and showing a world, that seems so hopeless, that no one can do anything about it.

But I believe these are important stories to tell.

No situation is hopeless.  Recovery is possible for anyone. Even those who seem so far gone.  I've met them!   And if dignity, forgiveness, shameless, treatment were available to everyone, if addiction wasn't looked down upon so much, if help was available and support systems were available to EVERYONE, than maybe it would change.  So that maybe someday people will look at these images, and not see someone who can't pull their shit together, but someone who is sick and needs help.  And then be willing to give help.

People become addicted for many different reasons.  None of those reasons should matter in why or if they get help.  But in this country, it almost only boils down to that.

Photos and stories like these are also the reason that those of us in recovery MUST tell our stories. So that the gap between them and us, can be bridged.  So that people not only see these images, which often seem so hopeless, but OUR stories. Recovery is possible for anyone.  Let's make sure they know.

I totally sound like a broken record.  I'm trying to work on some more personal stuff, but I feel like I've told you everything!!


  1. Education is everything. Dont stop what youre doing

    1. Thank you Holli!! You are the sweetest.