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Faces of Addiction


Addiction can happen to anyone, regardless of social position, age, race, job, or any other boundary that is put up. But behind every addict is a story, a struggle. The devastating physical, emotional, and spiritual effects have taken their toll or are in the process of doing so, and there lies a fork in the road. At the end of the day, every addict’s story comes to the same basic choices: continue on the road towards desperation and death, or get help and try to have a better life.

From photographer Chris Arnade’s “Faces of Addiction” project, every reason for getting into a lifestyle of addiction and alcoholism is represented; from abuse to poverty, to simply getting hooked. These pictures and captions accurately captured the heart wrenching effects of addictions, no matter what the cause was.  Several of those photographed had been sexually abused, and many of them were physically abused. Some fell on hard times, and relied on substances to carry them through. Many of these pictures captured women and men who turned to prostitution in order to support their habits and give themselves a place to sleep at night. During the course of trying to escape the abusive relationships or horrific abuse of their pasts, many of them wandered right into the arms of the inescapable violence and abuse of the street drug scene; all to support a habit. The majority of the people photographed lost their children, their jobs, and their homes. Most have landed in prison; one had even been arrested 156 times! Drug induced heart attacks, frostbite, hepatitis C, HIV and all sorts of health complications were seen across these pictures of sometimes grinning and posing faces; others close to tears, and still clearly perplexed.  There is no shortage of reasons why people use; or what happens to them when they do.

This project also shows that there aren’t any social boundary lines that addiction and its underlying causes don’t cross- from the homeless to the lawyers and doctors, to celebrities. Take the late Amy Winehouse, who has been quoted as saying, “The more insecure I feel, the more I drink”, summing up one of the essential addictive traits, regardless of her talent, beauty, and success (McVeigh). A former reality modeling contestant, Jael Strauss, also showed the devastating effects of addiction when her family staged an intervention on Dr. Phil for her life threatening methamphetamine habit. The “Faces of Addiction” project featured a successful high school teacher whose coke habit cost him his job, his family, and his home. But, just as the causes know no boundaries, nor do the solutions.

There are really only two options for those who are mired in addiction: stay the way they are, or change. There are infinite ways to do those things- but for some, choosing to change is either too difficult or too scary and they continue to stay stuck in the misery of addiction, or in the cloud of denial. Others choose to reach out for help. Instead of finding themselves in shooting galleries or crack houses, they now find themselves inside the rooms of 12 step programs, rehab facilities, shelters. Whether there are days, months, or years left; it is a long road to travel, yet the road to a better life and recovery can be seen quite differently.  As one man in the “Faces of Addiction” project said, “I am blessed. I am still here. Many others have gone. I am blessed. We are all blessed.” (Arnade). No matter who we are, and where we come from, when addiction touches our lives it takes us to the lows of our lives and to the same basic choices. What we do from there is only up to us.


Works Cited

Arnade, Chris. “Faces of Addiction.” n.d. 7 February 2013.

Hicks, Erin. “Celebrity Addictions: 7 Stars Who Have Faced Addictions.” 19 September 2012. 7 February 2013.

McVeigh, Tracy.”Amy Winehouse: ‘She was a sweet, tiny thing with this huge great voice.” 23 July 2011. 7 February 2013.



Written by

A native New Yorker, Bre loves the California scene and writing for Treatment4Addiction. She has been writing content for T4A for five months, and loves to learn new things, form opinions, and send them out to the world. Her interests include dance, singing, acting, talking with friends, being a daughter, and being the best big sister she can to her 16 year old brother. After attending ASU for a few months, she is interested in taking cosmetology classes and exploring her options. She looks forward to learning all she can, and doing something positive with that knowledge and experience.

Filed under: Addiction · Tags: 12-step programs, Abusive relationships, Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, amy winehouse, arrest, Chris Arnade, cocaine, Crack, death, denial, depression, drug induced heart attack, Faces of Addiction, helplessness, Hepatitis C, Heroin, HIV, Jael Strauss, Jail, life, methamphetamine, overdose, physical abuse, poverty, Prison, Recovery, rehab, sexual abuse, street drug scene, Treatment, violence

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