An artist’s response to the opioid crisis.



Eyes • Imprisoned • Unforgotten • Reflect • Protect Them • Addict • Recreate



You and I are addicts.

We may be addicted to things other than drugs, like gaming, smoking, shopping, even our cell phones…but what comes to mind when we see the word, addict?  Drugs.  Dark alleys.  Needles hanging out of arms.  To understand why, I traveled over 57,000 miles throughout America interviewing hundreds of people suffering or recovering from drug addiction.  Here’s what they taught me…

Turning Judgment Into Empathy

Drugs are an empty fix.  Users are trying to fix themselves, to escape reality, to numb the pain.  Very often, the pain is rooted in psychological injury:  bullying, neglect, the loss of a loved one, sexual abuse, isolation. Drugs drag their users into very dark places.  They need ladders of empathy, rather than oil slicks of judgment to emerge.

Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg |

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The Installations

Is this a project about opioids only?

People often ask if I interviewed only opioid users.  Initially, my art series was named Project H/OPE, which stood for Heroin/Opioid Project Engagement.  Not only was that name too long, it was too narrow.  Just a few weeks into my travels, a middle-aged guy wanted...

Vulnerability to Addiction

The documentary, Sensitive: The Untold Story, is a "must see" in understanding why certain people are more vulnerable to addiction.  Psychologist Elaine Aron explains that 20% of the population (women and men equally) are, due to their genetic makeup, more sensitive...