The Opioid Effect.

Creative Conscience design competition

This project is part of my proposal for the Creative Conscience design competition. Design Change Makers it is a brief launched in 2017 where the challenge was to explore a problematic subject in society and come up with creative solutions for it. I realised an awareness campaign that was called `Today & Tomorrow´ and it was focused in Drug Addiction. A big issue among young people, it the first cause of death, killing more in a year than were ever killed annually by HIV, gun violence or car crashes.

When I first started my research I was looking in conventional websites to know more about the topic and most of them were either not accurate, nor realistic or very academic (scientific effects of drugs in the body). Unfortunately, after all I could not understand why the consumption of hard drugs were on rise and what makes it so addictive.

I started doing my research with an unconventional method. By videos of people who were currently going through addiction. I felt it was necessary to tell their stories and hear their testimonies, they were asked the same five questions:
-How was your life before like?
-How did everything started?
-What do you regret the most?
-If you could change something what would it be?
-Do you think drugs are something people can just do it recreationally?

Just to get the sense and understand why this drugs are so appealing, one of the questions that interested me the most was: How it feels like to consume crack or heroin? For crack most of the people interviewed described it almost like a floating outer space experience or like if you could fly. And heroin users could not compare it to anything from this world some of them said like a big warm hug and others said like if you could kiss god.

What capture me the most was the duality they were living on. Despite they did not like the life they had and they were scared most of the time, they describe this drug almost as a poetic thing. At the beginning it appears like something that is going to make you forget about your problems, that will give you the `evasion´ that you might need, like if it could give you freedom. But everything is a lie that makes your less and less free little by little, without you noticing it until its too late.

I have represented the duality between how drugs look like, make you feel like and the truth underneath (how your life will become a nightmare living with an addiction) by two publications: A conversation piece, that opens dialogue between the issue and young people, who might be involved in similar situations than the ones I am narrating. By telling the real stories I want to engage people, specially youngsters and making them understand that every decision counts.

The other piece it is a continuation of the conversation. This one tells the poetry of the drugs, how people might think drugs are or how they seem to be from the outside. In order to fully understand it you must read both of the publications at the same time. I want to recreate the shock of actually seeing how something so appealing can be so destructive to make young people think twice every time they choose to do something. The decisions you make today will definitely have an impact on your life tomorrow.
As fierce as 
coals of fire.

` I was with a friend of mine who offered me some heroin, without thinking twice I end up trying it´
`I ran away from home when I was 14´
`I always felt homeless in a way, I have been in foster all my life´
`And I have been pretty much on my own since I was 16´
`I wanted to explore what else was around, and with meeting new people came the curiosity…´
`I started using drugs two or three years ago to short of heal the pain of loosing my children´
`Friends introduced it to me and I fell in love with it. I wasn't on trouble back them, I had a home, a bed, food on the table and people who cared about me´
Let the clouds 
away with the wind, 
Let the storm 
dance and the 
end to begin.

`And I loved it. Because what I was feeling, the depression and the loneliness went away completely´
`All I wanna do right now is to hit the crack pipe and let everything fade away for a little while´
`I like the streets, at least I don't feel alone here, there is always people around´
` First time I took drugs I was introduced by my uncle. I was abused by him´
`The best thing was having a hit before you sleep and cuddling up´
`If you have your hit of heroin you can chill out and feel better for at least a few hours…´
`And now I have a severe heroin habit. Ive used meth and heroin since I was about 19´
I cherish to fly 
from this fever, 
from the weary way 
of my trodden earth.
I am a spirit who 
don't love or hate,
who needs my 
soul to be set free 
from its roots.

` The dirt from heroin comes from the word hero because it gives you very hero like qualities´
`If I could get back to jail tomorrow I would. Because everyone it is nice there, you have somewhere to sleep and you get three meals a day. It is nice and cozy. I’ve got my own room my own bed´
`I have sleep all over this place, I know every corner of this town. Doorways, parks, hostels…´
`I wont wish this to anyone, even my worst enemy. When you have a drug issue you are always on the go basically´
` But then having that first morning hit it is even more amazing. It is the best feeling I’ve ever had. Better than falling in love, better than anything you’ve experienced before´
` A good hit in the morning makes the day, I have to admit it´
`I have not only mental problems but physical because of my addiction. The lack of sleep and eating. You end up looking completely different´
`I have been working on the streets on and off, trying to make money´
A raindrop like 
a looking-glass,
a hair like 
golden wire,
the smallest 
grain the biggest 
journey ahead.

` And I didn't realise everything I was feeling was a lie, it was all a trick´
` Everything it is just a vicious circle;
money, drugs
money, drugs
money, drugs
money, drugs
money, drugs
money, drugs
money, drugs
money, drugs
no food, no sleep´
`The mattress on the street´
`There is 5 pounds there, and that is what Ive got really for my food  for the next couple of days´
` I buy bread and cream cheese to spread. And that keeps me until Saturday probably´
`The worst thing? Having no-one´
`You have no idea what is it to be on the streets. You lose everything´
` I usually get 20 for a blowjob´
Keep flying until 
your teeth will rotten.
Keep flying until 
nothing is your 
concern anymore.
Keep flying until 
those who you love
 will no longer 
pronounce your name.
Keep flying until 
all pain is gone 
& lost somewhere 
beneath the starts…

` But I have made a choice, I choose to feel like that for the rest of my life. I made that choice and run away with it. Full speed ahead. Without looking back or knowing where I was headed.  At that point, my addiction went out of control´
`About how crack feels like? It is like if you could fly high on the sky. There is no limit´
`Heroin feels good. How would I describe heroin? Like a big warm hug. The fear of loneliness will fade away´
` There is no escaping right now´
` This my life right now, the little I have goes to drugs or to food´
` And because Ive been using so long I don't really get a buzz anymore, it just makes me feel better´
`The people hang around with? They are not your friends. Sometimes they would come to you and tell you they have some of the good shit you like. They tell you to test it first to see how it is. But then again you got the chance of getting some bad stuff and get killed´
` This is my oldest son. The only contact I have with him are these photos, he just turned 12 in July. There is really no point on putting him into this senseless crap that I am in. Ive been told he is top of his class and his really popular´
(Over three quarters of mothers sleeping on the street have had their children taken away)
` How are my costumers? The bad ones hit you and don't pay´
` The good ones come regularly and pay you a little extra´
Time is consuming, 
life is confusing,
I am tired of hoping 
for finding some 
peace of mind.
I struggle between 
the distorted perception
 and the thoughts 
of deception.

` Life became a nightmare. I was always worried, always scared, I never had any peace of mind. I couldn't live´
` I don't know what is gonna stop me to be honest´
` And back to reality in a few hours. Then you have to go back and do it all again´
` Spare any change please?…
Spare any change please?…
Spare any change please?…
Spare any change please?…
Spare any change please?…
Spare any change please?…
Have a good day´
` Never try it, don't let people talk you into it. Honestly at the end it is not worth it, I say run far far away…´
` When was the last time I saw him? I don't remember´
` It is not easy Ive had knifes pulled on me. Sometimes I prefer to go with the older guys because every time you get into a car you are scared of your life, you really don't know if you're gonna make it out of that car alive´
What was believed 
to set you free
gave you the 
captivity instead.

` By that moment I realised there was no peace, no rest, it was a 24 hour work 7 days a week.
It was so intense and so insane that the paradise I thought I was entering 7 years ago had turned into a living hell´
` Ever since I left the crack and got into heroin I got worse. It is been harder to get off. It is stronger and more physically addicting´
` Thats why I live on the streets because the drugs are here. It is easy to get them around, if you know people´
` I don't wanna live like this, I don't wanna die like this, I want help, I need help, I cant do this on my own´
` Because if they are trying to get you to do it they're not your friends´
` It is sad that you can not decide the future of you're own kids. Whether they wrong up with you or not, a court will decide for you. And you probably wont see them again´
` It is the lowest you will ever get. Makes you thing about your family and everything you gave up to live like this´
I smell my 
dripping blood.
Trust I wont 
search for another.
Trust I wont 
play the same game 
once again,
Trust I wont 
follow the rotten path.
No, never again.

` So I decided to put an end to the nightmare, I seek help, I couldn't live like this anymore, any longer. The addiction had taken away everything that matters or had ever mattered to me´
` I have been on her for sometimes two or three days. No shower, no sleep, nothing to eat because of my drug habit´
` Yes, I have tried rehab a few times, never worked. I wasn't into it, I didn't put my heart and soul into it. So I always ended up getting back to the street´
` I am tired of being sick. I deserve to have a live´
` Honestly drugs are not something you can do recreationally. When you finally came to realise about it there is no turning point already´
` It is difficult to deal with it. Everything will remind you of what you have lost´
` I want a normal life and a healthy relationship´
Everything was taken away from me since I started to put drugs first´
Trusting my wings 
will no longer save me 
from the vanishing 
of my fears.

` With some medication and a few doctor visits I thought I had my addiction under control. I thought that I was strong enough to say no.Not even a month went by I started using again and within about two months I felt my life slipping back into the same rabbit hole that I have just tried to crawl out´
` Because I was distant that happened in my life. Im sorry, Im very sorry to whoever Ive hurt´
` If I could get help now? Hell yes, I would take it, and it wont be like last time. I have missed a lot of opportunities this five years and there is nothing I could regret more´
` If I would have three wishes what would they be?´
I recommend you from my hard don't do it´
` If there was something I could change if my life what would that be?´
I would be back to my sister. I've heard she had kids and she's married now. I would love to meet them and be part of her life´
After failing and flying, 
consuming and firing, 
regretting and dying.
When nothing is there left, 
no bones, no ashes, 
no burnt blood…
A new life is yet to begin.

` I was convinced that there was really no hope. Until one day I was high out of my mind and my mum came to me, she had noticed that something was wrong with me and she gave me the last chance to get better, she never gave up, she offered me that I went to rehab. And I agreed´
`I will get out of this rabbit hole´
`Im 26 now, Im done with this, I still have my hole life ahead, I wanna go and life in the real world´
`Be off heroin.
To be able to have a healthy relationship.
And my third wish would be to find employment so I can get my shit together´
`Don’t ever let anything like this happen to you´
`I want to get off the drugs, stop all of this and live a normal life. Be part of the society and be part of my kids lives instead of look down upon´
`Its a long story you know… But a little bit broken down´
The Opioid Effect.

The Opioid Effect.