More than 72,000 people died as a result of opioid-related overdoses in the US in 2017, according to the National Institutes of Health. Although photojournalists and documentary photographers are helping to raise awareness about the situation, many of the images they produce are stigmatizing. Countless photographs of slumped-over bodies and people injecting drugs published by media organizations and circulating on the internet fail to convey the humanity of the crisis.
A group of journalism students at Emerson College in Boston are trying to change the narrative. They have created imaginative photo essays about 12 individuals who are in recovery from substance use disorder. Many are connected to the Devine Recovery Center in South Boston, a peer-to-peer community center offering a place of support for people in recovery from various types of addiction.
In order to amplify the participants' voices and experiences, the producers took a rare step and invited their collaborators to write their thoughts and feelings by hand on the photographs.
This project was created as part of a journalism course at Emerson College, titled Humanizing Multimedia Stories, developed and taught by Assistant Professor Aaron Goodman.