T H E R E I S A C R A C K I N E V E R Y T H I N G-Leonard Cohen
Through this long-term project I reveal a distinct interpretation of the "female addict” archetype. My portraits challenge societal personifications of these women as haggard, in angst, and destitute -attributes ubiquitous in pop-culture and documentary photography. My intention is not to minimize statistics estimating 200,000 American women will either die from complications of addiction or face incarceration. And no deficit exists of photographers exploring these devastating narratives with stunningly beautiful images. However, as a recovering alcoholic, I propose these documentaions perpetuate public opinion that substance abuse is an inherently hopeless situation. By capturing uplifting images of women in what is define as “long-term recovery,” I celebrate the concept that successful sobriety is achievable -despite the odds against us. All women volunteer their stories, portrait sit-ins, and have accomplished a minimum of ten years free from substance abuse. Some attend twelve-step programs so adhering to the code of eithics towards anonymity was crucial. I carefully select figures from various backgrounds, race, and economic statuses to convey a sense of unity.
Altough addiction has finally trickled down to main stream media, sadly prior methodology was barbaric. In early twentieth century, women were publicly shamed, disregarded by doctors, often abandoned by their families, and forgotten in insane asylums without a humane plan of rehabilitation. Today legislatures redefining addiction from “lack of will power” to an official medical condition exist. Proactive endeavors by various innovative politicians successfully allocate Federal funds towards prevention and treatment, which subsequently decrease startling statistics of overdose related deaths.
Several women in this series, myself included, recovered as a direct result of these laws. We want to celebrate and inform all women inflicted by addiction that long-term sobriety is achievable. That is not to say we no longer suffer from hardships or ignorantly allege this lifestyle is effortless. We merely want to reach a broader audience of women with the hope they will seek help. Death by addiction does not have to define us. And the strength, honor, dignity, and perseverance of my exemplars are surviving manifestations.