the project

What do you picture when you think of the word “addict?”

Maybe you think of the archetypical drunk: a middle aged man passed out in the street, or who shows up at the pub at 6 am. Or maybe you think of the destructive artist: someone who creates from pain and seems as if they are a light burning too bright to last long. Or perhaps you think of someone who clearly never had much to lose, otherwise they never would be destitute and still desperate to change their ways. Maybe you think of someone who just doesn’t have the strength of character or the willpower to be anything but a failure.

What do you picture when you think of the word “recovery?”

Maybe you think of a holy rolling teetotaler who looks down on you for having a beer. Maybe you think of someone rigid, who simply can’t just loosen up like the rest of us. Maybe you think of someone who is incapable of really having fun, and struggling in perpetuity to maintain what you take for granted. Maybe you think that, even in recovery, there are some things that break someone beyond repair.

All of these views are understandable considering the cultural narrative around addiction and recovery, but they are based in half-truths or misunderstandings.

What if addiction can manifest in more ways that simply the most extreme? What if destruction wasn’t assumed to be inextricable from creative brilliance? What if recovery is actually about healing, joy, strength, and community?

What if living life on life’s terms takes more strength than you can imagine?

On Recovery: Portraits of the Journey explores what it means to be touched by addiction and to be in recovery.

There’s a stigma against those who suffer from addiction, as well as against twelve step programs. Both in and out of the recovery community, there’s the belief that a traditional twelve step program is the only way to be in recovery–a misconception that is encouraged by media and the justice system’s entanglement with the twelve steps as a punitive “rehabilitation” measure.

Many of the studies of the program’s success rate loosely measure efficacy based on self-reporting from folks who rely on the program heavily, but what about all of the people who come in and out of the rooms of recovery? What about those who take a different path?

The current misunderstandings about what recovery “should” look like and what it means to struggle with addiction drive people away from potentially exploring these tools as a resource, and undermine support for those who are struggling with this chronic mental illness.

This project aims to explore and challenge those misconceptions and humanize the people who are in recovery (with a highlight on those who approach recovery in creative, unexpected ways) through a multimedia presentation, combining photography, interview, and art. All of the work is created by those who are in recovery themselves or have lived in the shadow of addiction in their partners, family, friends, and clients.

On Recovery is an advocate for healing. On Recovery aims to illuminate the diversity of people in recovery, as well as the diversity of their paths to holistic well-being. On Recovery is a window into a catastrophic decline interrupted, reinterpreted, and thus, reimagined.