In 2017, I started a project titled The Cost of Being Free. This project is an extremely personal journey for me, as it delves into the taboo subject of drug addiction on an intimate level. My father struggled with drug addiction for many years, which would ultimately take his life. As a result of his death, I was able to see drug addiction clearly for the first time, and to recognize the impact it has on people’s lives such as my brother, Justin, who has also fallen prey to this disease. I am documenting Justin’s everyday battle with addiction and the community of people he is involved with. Through conversation and audio taping, I am also examining other individuals who are fighting this disease.
The Cost of Being Free platform is for people who are currently fighting addiction themselves, or who are watching loved ones and friends struggle with this disease, or for those who want to get more involved in the community of people fighting their addictions. While not solely limited to this, the platform welcomes all who simply want to learn about the disease of addiction, and help those struggling fight the battle. This is a safe space to bring the addiction community together.
My intention with this project is to draw upon my photojournalism skills and translate my subjects’ stories into long-form documentaries. The Cost of Being Free as a documentary would capture the lifestyle of drug addiction and the way it affects the user, as well as the relationships they have with the people around them. I’d like to explore and investigate organizations working toward helping with rehabilitation and finding new ways of facilitating the way people can overcome their addictions. I intend to continue following Justin and his progression into sobriety, as well as others dealing with addiction directly. My objective with this documentary project is to capture the deep emotional hell caused by this debilitating disease. I strive to shed light on the realities of what drug addiction looks like and the mental health issues that come along with it. Additionally, I hope to humanize the addict, de-stigmatize addiction, and show the harsh actualities of what it is like to struggle with this burden.