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Coping with America's Opioid Addiction

Johnny Chung | Puerto Rico, United States

Family man, with a working wife, and son. He was on pain killers since his teenage years for a bicycle accident resulting in a loss of his toe and chronic pain. As the nation became stricter in opioid prescriptions in 2018, his pain killers were no longer provided by his doctor. He then turned to the streets. As the streets became overloaded with fentanyl, his dealer hooked him on this cheap and powerful drug. In August 2019, he accidentally overdosed due to the inconsistent variability of fentanyl's strength. His heart stopped; he was lucky to have survived. He tried quitting, however, his chronic pain persisted, so he returned to the streets for the drugs. Finally, with his parent's support, they brought him to this detox facility.

Amplified by the war on opioids, some Puerto Ricans turn to the streets to attain their pain killers. The streets are overloaded with a new un-controlled synthetic version of heroin, fentanyl, causing an increase in overdose cases and deaths. To fight against this rise in drug-related harm, Iniciativa Comunitaria created a detox center that takes in up to 25 patients of drug addiction for 10 days. They provide medical, physical, and psychological support for their patients. This is an inside look on the patients going through withdrawal and the kind services Inciciativa Comunitaria staff are providing to help them cope through recovery.

I am inspired to use photography to tell stories for the benefit of others -stories that take me into the lives of others to bring empathy to the world.  These experiences help break down barriers of judgement which affects me personally and which I hope to share with those who are willing to listen.

Inciativa Comunitaria

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