When you see the word, “ADDICT,” what picture comes to mind? Dark alleys? Crime? Needles hanging out of arms? The word ADDICT is so enormously stigmatizing that I was told by counselors at treatment centers not to refer to my interviewees as addicts. While I understand the desire to protect this traumatized population, avoidance of the word simply exacerbates the stigma. These are folks who introduce themselves at AA and NA meetings by saying, “Hi, my name is John and I am an addict.”
Instead of avoiding the word, with this art installation I democratize the word. Through the use of video, I first demonstrate how quickly we are to judge others, then I depict addictive behaviors most of us suffer from: compulsive cell phone use, gaming, porn, shopping, eating.
Of all the addictions we observe, why do we assign the greatest stigma to the addiction that involves the least room for choice, and the greatest chemically-induced compulsion?
That makes no sense.