52 Addicts Recap

Martinsburg, WV Heroin Epidemic

I have been overwhelmed with the positive response from my friends, clients and the community to my service project, 52 Addicts! I have received emails, texts, Facebook messages and comments in person while at events about how much people are enjoying these portraits of real people who have been brave enough to tell their stories of their battle against addiction. If you haven’t heard about this project, check out the intro post here. I know some people are still not on the Instagram bandwagon (and who can blame them, since there seems to be a new social media platform to jump on every week!), so I wanted to do a quick recap here of the stories I have featured so far for those of you not on my Instagram feed.

If you are a recovering addict and would like to share your story, send me a private message here.

James is a kind soul with such a deep, rich story to share. Here, I can only tell you a condensed version of that story, but attend a local event and he is sure to be there willing to share not only his incredible story, but also some great wisdom. He served in the military as a young man (here, he is holding a picture of himself in Vietnam). He is active in his church and the local Berkeley County community. He won an award for his service to the community, and sat on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity. He is a proud member of Rotary, which makes a positive impact on our community in countless ways. He is currently working on his leading role in the upcoming production at the Apollo Theatre in downtown Martinsburg (the beautiful location for this portrait). He is passionate about helping others, and has a plan for this community that needs to be heard. James is also a recovering heroin addict who has been clean since 1994 after over 25 years of struggling with addiction. Thank you, James, for your service in the military and in our community. Follow along on my weekly journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts #MartinsburgWV #HeroinCrisis #EndTheStigma #RecoveryIsPossible #OpenMinds #OpenHearts #BerkeleyCounty #Martinsburg #WV #SwadleyStudio #CommunityServiceProject #Addiction #Stigma #Heroin #Opioid #StayStrong #MiBurgWV #recoveryroadseries #Epidemic #Addict #Hope #Inspiration

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Tiffany is standing here in the park that she used to spend time at with her baby sister, Tabby. The last time they visited this spot over a year and a half ago, they had a good heart to heart about Tiffany’s recent road to recovery from heroin and how she wanted that for her sister, who was also caught in the heroin trap. A few days later, Tabby was court-ordered to go to rehab, which was supposed to be her blessing. Only there were no open beds in West Virginia, so Tabby was told to just hang in there until something became available. Less than two weeks later, Tabby overdosed and left a devastated family behind to question why this had to happen after all they have been through. Even through the pain of losing her precious “baby girl”, as she calls her, Tiffany has remained strong in her recovery. She is a guiding light for other addicts and is one of the driving forces behind the current Narcan classes being offered here in our community. She also just went back to school to complete her training as a CNA. You can find her helping out at community events, giving of herself in any way she can. Tiffany has so much more to give to our community, and I am excited to see what she accomplishes in the future! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Follow along on my weekly journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts #MartinsburgWV #HeroinCrisis #EndTheStigma #RecoveryIsPossible #OpenMinds #OpenHearts #Berkeley County #Martinsburg #WV #SwadleyStudio #CommunityServiceProject #Addiction #Stigma #Heroin #Opioid #StayStrong #MiBurgWV #teamrecovery419 #recoveryroadseries #Epidemic #Addict #Hope #Inspiration

 

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

No mother should be sitting here in this spot.▫▫▫▫▫▫▫ Many moms have a picture of their baby on a necklace. But not many have their grown child’s ashes encased in a glass pendant as well. Kathy’s daughter, Tiffany, was a beautiful young lady who was also a mommy herself to a precious little girl. Tiffany had battled post-partum depression, and was afraid to tell anyone for fear of having her baby girl taken away from her. Not knowing what she could do for help, she used opioids as a way to escape the black hole that depression can leave in your life. Eventually, she moved to heroin and soon found herself stuck in a world that she couldn’t escape. Through it all, she remained a wonderful mother to her child. She was going to college to be a medical assistant, and wanted to spend her life helping others while raising her sweet girl. She died of an overdose in November 2014, leaving her mother to go through what no mom should ever experience. EVER. Follow along on my weekly journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts #EndTheStigma #RecoveryIsPossible #MartinsburgWV #HeroinCrisis #OpenMinds #OpenHearts #BerkeleyCounty #Martinsburg #WV #SwadleyStudio #CommunityServiceProject #Addiction #Stigma #Heroin #Opioid #StayStrong #MiBurgWV #teamrecovery #recoveryroad #Epidemic #Addict #Hope #Inspiration

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

Ever since high school, Sara struggled with stomach pain that was ignored by every doctor she went to. They eventually gave her pain pills to manage the pain, even without a diagnosis. When pain pills became harder to get due to the crackdown on prescriptions, doctors and nurses ignored her pain and some even told her she was a drug seeker. She ended up buying pills on the street, and then moved to heroin since it was much cheaper. After years of heroin abuse, she made it to the point where she wanted help and went to a detox. That was four years ago this weekend. After leaving detox, she found out she was pregnant with her first child. With a new team of doctors treating her during pregnancy, she finally found an answer for her chronic pain. Sara was diagnosed with Lupus, Fibromyalgia and IBS, along with other ailments that had been untreated for so long. Now that she has answers, Sara remains strong in her recovery and has 3 beautiful children who hold on to her dearly. 🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹🔹 Follow along on my weekly journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts #MartinsburgWV #HeroinCrisis #EndTheStigma #RecoveryIsPossible #OpenMinds #OpenHearts #BerkeleyCounty #Martinsburg #WV #SwadleyStudio #CommunityServiceProject #Addiction #Stigma #Heroin #Opioid #StayStrong #MiBurgWV #recoveryroadseries #Epidemic #Addict #Hope #Inspiration #na #12steps #soberissexy #staystopped

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

David’s road to recovery has been a long time coming. He started drinking and smoking weed at 13, eventually sneaking prescription pills from loved ones by the time he was 15. When he lost his best friend in 2001, David’s addiction grew out of control and he started shooting heroin. He has been in and out of jail as a result of his addiction, and his last arrest landed him in prison. Although he told the judge he needed help, he was sent to prison with no option for rehab or treatment of any kind. Sadly, his mother (who he was very close to) died two weeks before his release. He was released back into the world with no tools to face his immense grief, and spiraled even more out of control, eventually attempting suicide. Many would have said he was a lost cause, but they would have been wrong… David eventually landed a spot in an amazing rehab in California, where he spent 3 months learning about himself and his addiction. He graduated with flying colors, and is so positive about his future now that he has the tools to move forward. He is a volunteer support advocate for BCHEA (Berkeley County Heroin Epidemic & Awareness), where he volunteers his time helping others who want to change their path of addiction to a road to recovery. ✴✴✴✴✴✴✴✴✴✴✴✴ Follow along on my weekly journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts #MartinsburgWV #HeroinCrisis #EndTheStigma #RecoveryIsPossible #OpenMinds #OpenHearts #BerkeleyCounty #Martinsburg #WV #SwadleyStudio #CommunityServiceProject #Addiction #Stigma #Heroin #Opioid #StayStrong #MiBurgWV #recoveryroadseries #Epidemic #Addict #Hope #Inspiration #roadtorecovery #clean #sober #addict

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Tim & Emily have such a strong bond in their marriage, and have helped each other overcome a long and intense history of addiction. They are each other’s caretaker, and they constantly build each other up to remind them of how strong they are together. They were once caretakers of Tim’s brother, Jason. He struggled with schizophrenia and needed constant supervision after his house caught on fire leaving him with burns over 75% of his body. He ended up losing his battle with mental illness less than 6 months ago by way of an overdose. Tim & Emily come here often to visit Jason, and stand firm in their bond to keep each other accountable for their own recovery. They are both volunteer support advocates for BCHEA, helping others who are seeking help in finding treatment and support services in the area. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Follow along on my weekly journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share!

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

Lorenzo is about to walk into the elementary school that he volunteers at as part of the PASS program in Berkeley County. His eyes light up, and he giggles as he talks about the kids who he works with to provide support and encouragement to succeed. Twenty-two children who look forward to his visits and have a better chance of doing well in school by gaining the confidence and self-esteem that they so desperately need. He fought for us in Vietnam so many years ago, and like so many of our Vietnam veterans, he became a heroin addict. When he returned from the war, he went on to remain an addict until 2002 when he became clean and sober. He is such an encourager to the community, serving as a deacon in his church and working with various programs to bring spiritual enlightenment to those around him. Follow along on my weekly journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts #MartinsburgWV #HeroinCrisis #EndTheStigma #RecoveryIsPossible #OpenMinds #OpenHearts #BerkeleyCounty #Martinsburg #WV #SwadleyStudio #CommunityServiceProject #Addiction #Stigma #Heroin #Opioid #StayStrong #MiBurgWV #recoveryroadseries #Epidemic #Addict #Hope #Inspiration #clean #sober #addict #soberissexy #na #12steps #staystopped

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

Crystal visits this spot on Winchester Avenue for the first time since her accident over a year ago that put her in this wheelchair. She is not angry at what happened. Instead, she is grateful to be alive, with a new found love of life and recovery. You see, she was one of those fully functioning, girls next door, mother of two who held it together on the outside, yet struggled with a long history of heroin addiction behind closed doors. You never would have suspected that she was an addict if you didn’t know any better, just like so many of the young moms you see every day. She had tried to quit multiple times, but kept going back to the same life when she was faced with no resources or support system to help her. Last January she quit again, but again she soon gave up and made plans to meet her dealer… only this time was different. Since it was nighttime, she was cautiously walking along the side of the road watching her footing, and was so careful to look both ways before crossing the street. However, her cautious actions became futile when a car without it’s headlights came and hit her as she crossed. She suffered many critical injuries, including broken bones and severe nerve damage. She is truly lucky to have survived such a horrific accident, and even luckier to have escaped what may have been the deal that killed her that night. I am amazed at how positive this girl is about her life! She is in a constant state of happiness, and just being around her is enough to put a smile on your face. I am so honored to have met her, and to be able to tell a small part of her story here! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Follow along on my weekly journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

Jason is a college graduate who not too long ago had a great job as a financial manager, raising a family including three young boys. He was your typical guy living the “American Dream”, until he became addicted to his prescription painkillers. His addiction began to take over his life, and he quickly spiraled into the slippery slope of heroin addiction. Soon, he lost everything. His job. His home. His family. His boys. He knew he needed help and he wanted it so bad, but he had no idea of HOW to stop. Getting out of that hole isn’t something that is taught or even talked about in our community. Jason ended up attempting suicide which landed him in the hospital. No one should have to attempt suicide to get the help that they need. Here is a bright, educated, family man who became lost, and had no clue how to save himself. How then, should we expect anyone in his situation to know how to save themselves? We look at them from the outside, thinking that we would know what to do… but how can you say that if you haven’t been through addiction yourself and experienced the stigma? The hate? The hypocrisy? Why is it okay that someone had to try and KILL themselves in order to turn their life around, because they didn’t know what else to do? It’s archaic. And it needs to stop. Jason was lucky and landed a spot in a great rehab in Maryland, and then was able to get into a transition program (also in Maryland) which he completed and now is a successful house manager of the same program. He spends his free time volunteering his time speaking at schools in Washington County, where he is on the Washington County Panel of Heroin Awareness. He is also a sponsor for others who struggle with addiction, and is the chairman of the treatment committee for Area 29 AA. Jason is now back in his boys’ lives, and says he has never been happier. ⭐ Follow along on my weekly journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. #52addicts

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

  • […] about this project which fill my heart with so much joy. So, thank you!!! If you are new here, check out this post to catch up on the project. To see the last recap, check out this […]

  • […] If you are new here, check out this post to learn about the project. Update #1 can be found at this link, and update #2 can be found at this […]

  • Another Native - June 2, 2017 - 8:15 pm

    This is a remarkable series. Thank you for sharing hope.

  • Jim Fitts - June 15, 2017 - 7:37 am

    I read about this series in the New Yorker I would like to feature your series on my photography based website, photoweenie.com. I am the founder and editor of photoweenie.com. Photoweenie.com had over 1,000,000+ hits in 2016.
    I will only post the work if you respond to my request.
    Do you have a background doc on the series? If so, please reply with the text as a Word doc. I would also be posting six photos from the series. I can take them from your website, or you can email them to me.
    Thanks,
    Jim Fitts

  • Dominique - July 19, 2017 - 5:29 pm

    Thank you for this series. It is so important to put names and faces to this epidemic. Sharing stories CAN change people!

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