Drug addiction is, unfortunately, an issue that affects countless individuals across the world. Absolutely anyone can be affected by addiction at any point in their life if they abuse chemical substances such as drugs or alcohol. A drug addiction affects not only the life of the abuser but also the lives of their loved ones too, who are often left to pick up the pieces.
Contrary to popular belief, just because someone is addicted to drugs does not make them a bad person. No one would willingly choose to have an addiction; it is a genuine illness that can utterly consume the life of the addict without this person even realising.
Hester Brodie is a former drug addict who is still haunted by her years of drug abuse. She was addicted to heroin, crack cocaine and alcohol for six years, but has been sober since 2001. Hester has been dubbed ‘incredibly brave’ by many locals after they had seen the collection of photographs she had taken during her addiction. She uses these to tell her story and warn others of the dangers of drug abuse. This year, Hester bravely decided to put the photographs on display in the corridor of her flat for others to see. Ironically enough, the apartment she lives in was built on the same site of an old warehouse where she used to go to take drugs.
She said, “The photos are a documentation of all the people I’ve met along the way of this struggle to sit still and be with my own feelings. For a long time, I was trying to run away from myself. I moved because I knew Bristol was a really good area for free parties. It was called smack city, and I think I knew that. I wanted oblivion. I was never scared of heroin. I just went for it; I absolutely went for it.
Hester began abusing heroin at the age of eighteen after years of being sexually abused by a neighbour. This traumatic experience pushed her towards drugs as she felt there was no other way to cope. She started taking heroin just before moving to Bristol to do an art degree. Hester acknowledged that she did try to overcome her drug addiction many times. However, she could not find the strength to do it and always ended back on the drugs.
Hester was surrounded by drugs as both her sister and partner abused heroin as well. As was to be expected, the years of constant drug abuse began to take its toll and at the age of just twenty-three, Hester sought out the help of a social worker who managed to secure her a place in a rehabilitation centre. “Heroin wasn’t working anymore. I had no veins left. There was nowhere else to go; nothing was working – including the drugs. Bizarrely I never thought I was bad enough. I always thought famous or rich people went to rehab. It was a case of really low self-esteem. I think addicts, in general, have problems taking support,” she said, thinking back to the time when she was not willing to accept any help.
Once Hester had finally managed to overcome her drug addiction, she moved to London to take up photography. She wanted to try and forget her troubled past; however, once she was given student accommodation and realised that this was extremely close to where she had used heroin before, she began to crumble.
“I felt wherever I was going, I couldn’t escape it,” she explained. She tried to find happiness by starting relationships, but these often resulted in her feeling lonelier. “A lot of it was getting involved in dalliances with men who damaged me, which I thought would take away the loneliness but only made it worse. Sometimes I would totally overreach.”
She continued, “Everyone has their histories or problems, which is something that took me years to realise as I think addicts have a tendency to think they are the only ones with problems. Of course, nowadays I know that is far from the truth.”
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