Stephen Dyer

Thesis 2020

Class of 2020
Arts Administration and Art+Design Majors

Numb to the pain

This project explores the reality of addiction and substance abuse while recontextualizing the preconceived notions that the public has regarding addiction and the war on drugs. Drugs are either depicted as party enhancers or disgusting toxins that will tear your life apart. Addiction is a slow burn that progresses from the need to cope with pain, depression, and stress. Addiction an uncomfortable topic few people are willing to discuss, but the more people are open and honest with addiction, the more people will feel unashamed and seek help. Pain is entirely numbed by substances and the root of the drug problem requires more than arresting dealers and shaming people into silence.

The inspiration for this project was the external environment surrounding drugs and the internal experience of suffering from substance abuse. When dealing with the war on drugs, it is important to also speak on the people who profit from creating addicts. Pharmaceutical companies, such as Purdue Pharma, created the opioid crisis that has torn apart families and communities for the sake of profit. The law is unjustly prejudiced against people of color and disproportionately incarcerates them while white people are protected from criminalization. Suffering from drug addiction fundamentally changes the way you think, not only while using but also after you get sober. Many celebrities use drugs and are seen as partiers instead of being labeled a junkie because of their social status. For people who don’t have the protection of status, addiction can leave you isolated and alone with seemingly no hope of recovery.