Last Update: September 8, 2013
Welcome to the Addiction and Art Website
Below are images of art works by some very generous artists. They choose to share the images and if you click an image you will find the image on your screen and you can save it. Also, the artists have provided some descriptions of their work and what it means to them.
If you download the images for use please remember to attribute the work to the artist. We have provided a caption for each image to help. Also, all the work and the write-ups on this site are covered by a Creative Commons license that is described in full at the bottom of this page. In short while you may download and print the images, you may not do so for commercial purposes.
The images are provided by AddictionAndArt.org and the Artists to help you educate others about addiction and what it can do to people.
If you are an artist and are inspired by the work you see here and want to share work from your portfolio click here to find out how to submit images to addictionandart.org.
Artists and Downloads
Freedom from Addiction
"Loveliness surrounds the captive which is unseen by the one drowning in tears of regret and helplessness. For this one, God is the true key to freedom. When the tormented person reaches out for God's help, He lovingly grasps the extended hand. This act of unconditional love conquers all oppressions. For anyone who calls on the name of the Lord must believe He exists and thus gaining access to the Creator of the universe, who has power: power over weakness; power over addiction; power over darkness. Those seeking to leave behind the attachments of corruption find HOPE and no longer will be controlled by the overwhelming struggle of destructive choices. Powerfully, the Almighty God rips away the bondages of drugs, alcohol, gambling, and unhealthy habitual behaviors. Certainly, the one who seeks God finds Him, because the divine Maker, full of love and forgiveness, will never deny anyone who calls upon His Name. Miraculously, He removes what binds and replaces it with a promise of HOPE: hope to prosper and not to harm; hope for a future." -- Candy Aaron - (2/28/2011)
"Where's Carmen?" is a shared experience between mother and daughter, both struggling to find the girl the daughter once was, and the woman she will ultimately become. --Robyn Alatorre robynalatorre.com (9/13/2012)
Page from Book called "Owen"
Addiction comes in many forms. As a college student I encounter it regularly in all different forms, from friends addicted to caffeine to dieting, alcohol to coke. In my story "Owen" I try to show how the simplest substances and behaviors can be addicting simply by the fact that we need them to cope, and how easy it is to fall into that trap. At the same time, by addressing the behavior that caused the addiction, there is always the hope for change. - Tenaya Anue (5/17/2012)
I'm Dying for a Smoke "The one addiction society is numb to is tobacco smoking. 'Death sticks,' 'cancer sticks,' 'tar fix' are all slang terms I've learned from cigarette smokers. Maybe it's the very slow, internal, unnoticeable effects of nicotine addiction that seem angelic in comparison to meth or coke addiction?" - Marie Balla
The piece "Seduction" alludes to my irrational and biological attraction to the taste, feel and buzz of alcohol. I relate it to another complex, basically physical desire/need; sex. Behind the colorful appeal of the lips and partially hidden, is the vehicle. In this case it's an actual bottle of Crown Royal whiskey. The lips are reversed from the normal drinking position which intimates a sensual personal relationship with the bottle and its contents. - Joseph Barbaccia - www.paradisestudio.com (3/18/2011)
The AGONY started as a twelve piece visual opus that allowed me to record and process the journey of my recovery. Divergent from my continued development as an artist, these works have been fundamental to my personal reconstruction. Having grown to fifteen individual pieces, the series has no end or definitive number. As with my journey, the AGONY remains a work in progress.
Intended as a personal self reflection the AGONY has already drawn considerable attention, primarily from those navigating their own recovery.
An unforeseen outcome of developing the AGONY has been the discussions initiated by my children. These pieces have provided a focal point from which they have been able to ask questions, and develop a stronger understanding of who their father is.
This collection of original works covers a continuum of emotions from desperation to hope, surrender to rebirth. Each piece demands the viewer evaluate their own internal turmoil; to achieve a greater self awareness. From the smaller pieces to the larger more powerful pieces, the AGONY records the journey of recovery shared by many.
Perry Barclay-Goddard 2012
THE AGONY #2 20X32" charcoal and acrylic wash
"and so I fell into the abyss of my own personal hell"
The perceived lack of control over my life was manifest in a constant sensation of falling. The sensation of plummeting into the depths of torment was always there and only varied in the degree of fear it produced.
THE AGONY #12 12X22" charcoal and acrylic wash
"the energy of her presence beside me was enough to lift me out of the mire of my existence"
During the greatest trials there was always one person whose fortitude held me accountable and whose love bandaged my wounds. When the agony of my journey subsided, if only for a moment, their love and concern lifted me to new heights, allowing me a brief glimpse of what could be.
THE AGONY #14 18X24" charcoal and acrylic wash
"one harsh word, though without intent, was sufficient to obliterate any progress I had made"
As incremental as the steps of my recovery were, one word spoken harshly or received as critical was sufficient to decimate any progress and send me back into darkest of depths.
Hands of Recovery "Practicing orthopedic surgery supports my sculpting materially; whereas sculpting is one of the mainstays of my spiritual life. The power of a spiritual life began to dawn on me nine years ago when I began working the 12 steps of recovery. ... I find that the hard work and sometimes the mystery of the foundry—a process I refer to as 'art-reco' (short for art recovery)—supplies me with the balance my life needs." - Sam T. Barnes
"The artwork "75 And Counting Bleeding Out the Black" is a result of my need to deal with some alcohol, prescription drug and self mutilation addictions that I had several years ago. It was a result of a combination of bad relationships, job loss, car accident, buying a new home, a birth of my first child that started the abuse. It quickly grew out of control costing around $100 a week for almost a year before deciding to seek professional help. It took another year to get under control, the emotional pain is gone but the physical scars still remain." - David Becker (5/1/2011)
Title: "Inverted Love"
I created this over the weekend... While working on it, I was thinking of my mother, who couldn't stop drinking, and of the many people I work with who have addictions.
The crow here symbolizes a cycle of life. My mother loved others, and would do just about anything for them. But, sadly, she never learned to love herself. Her pain, both mental and physical, plagued her all her life. She did her best to cover it up, or to drown it out with alcohol and prescription drugs when she could get them. The graffiti-style adds to the edginess of life being out of touch with reality. Hidden words in her empty head, and upside down underneath the woman, reads "Planted Seeds Deep" and then "Memory".
My mother screamed silently and no one heard. Her pain was so incredibly deep. I tried so hard to help her. But, in the end, rather than accept help, she chose to end her life. My guilt is in the scratchy doodles surrounding the woman. Hard to destroy guilt, but each day I think of love and it does help. --Deborah Blount (9/13/2012)
Title: "Take Care"
When I first started taking the pics it was to show people what a good time I was having, to invite them to have a good time too. A few years later, it was to show them how whacked out I'd become and to warn them to stay far away. The pics turned on me. Like the drugs. Like the good times. And, unlike in the past when I'd lost all control, this time I wasn't going back to rehab, making it to the second round and then getting knocked down again.
After so many years, and so much waste, I needed something to show for it all. Something meaningful, something that would last - that's why the pictures I take are so important to me. --Will Booberry (4/16/2013)
"Cleaning Up Her Act (mixed media drawing on paper - 10" x 13" - 2006)
"I portray both the illusions of glamour and the harsh reality of abuse and addiction. Loss of control and sadness are recurring themes in my work. Cleaning Up Her Act illustrates the endless fascination with celebrities and their stints in rehab. In this day and age, it has become both tabloid fodder and an opportunity for public relations". --Scott G. Brooks www.scottgbrooks.com (2/10/2011)
The sickness of obsession with violence.
The enjoyment of the sight of blood.
It never ends....
Life is such unbearable lightness, until we are all ashes.
The addiction of appearance and beauty.
The excitement of living in a high life.
Regardless of the shallow inside and the feeling of emptiness.
Eventually, it let us lost in ourselves....
Hui-ju Chen (Mickey) (7/5/2012)
Dancing Lights 28" x 10.78", Digital Photography, Collage, Painting printed with giclee ink on acid free, wood-blocked canvas
"In my family depression and bipolar disorders are genetic, so I am painfully aware of how the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs to self-medicate can lead to life-long addictions.
Dancing Lights, a photo-collage-painting, highlights teenage experiments with alcohol, especially problems suffered by women, personally, socially, and at the hand of others. Â It begins, flowing right to left, with girlhood fantasies, a promising evening before secretly drinking, then after, where, passed-out, present danger merges with a woozy dream-state reflecting the historical abuse of women. This work is about the present, where teens explore the seductive boundaries of emerging adulthood, sexuality, and the altering substances that connect them to abandonment of inhibition and, ultimately, the inherent nature of humans to embrace the comforts of addiction". - Christina Collins-Smith - www.cdcsmith.net (2/19/2011)
I have chosen three works, which address personal struggles with alcohol. Each piece represents a stage or phase in my recovery. While I struggled for a sense of identity, and social acceptability, alcohol served to fill a macho void. The one-upmanship, and the acting out and unaccountability for my actions, could simply be blamed on the alcohol. The sad truth was, I was just as alone and disconnected from everyone as before. But now I was in a fog as well. Alcohol did not live up to the ads I was bombarded with, the idea of an evening with a happy ending. Much of what "Good Friday" is about is the ritual aspect, the false facade, and the adolescent worship, of alcohol.
The second piece, "The Wagon", deals with the physical representation of that term, and my questioning of drinking and what it meant to me. Due to some of my behavior under the influence, I began to notice doors closing. So I would clean up and clear up to gain a different perspective. This also served as a control method to convince myself I did not have a problem. "The Wagon" is a precarious term, which afforded me bragging rights and a victim stance at the same time.
"Last Call" represents an extreme version of the term. Before Recovery, Last Call carried little weight. It simply meant it was the last drink "HERE". But the night was young. Now, "Last Call" means a start down a slippery slope, putting at risk all I have worked for, one day at a time.
--Nicholas Coroneos - www.coroneosart.com -(7/11/2012)
0 Refills Left "Some will not see the juxtaposition if they only see medication as a tool of help. I hope most see medication as the double-edged sword it has become. Why don't we secure medicine cabinets half as well as gun cabinets?" -Derek S. Cummings
The symbolism in "Cheers" represents the most important aspects of addiction to me. In a renewed state of mind, and the clarity we achieve after becoming physically clean, it is easy to bask in our newfound freedoms. But, we can casually forget that the problem is rooted not only in the substance we abused, but also strongly in our abuse of it. It is our internal sickness that caused us to seek out such destruction in the first place. A broad smile, uplifted chin and bright orange replace the sadness of the addict in "Open", yet retain the unmanageable self through the texture of the mouth; a grave reminder of the importance of our continued spiritual progress and that our disease is doing push-ups, waiting for the next slip.
"Open" portrays this spiritual illness - characterized by lack of control coupled with the vulnerable state that addicts live in - by utilizing texture, color and the self-comforting position the woman sits in. The cracked mouth in this piece not only calls attention to the lack of verbal control that most of us addicts have, but also the insane amounts degradation we seek out, through mental and physical self-injury as our disease progresses, and we ingest increasingly larger quantities of our drug of choice. The title reveals the true nature of the addict that seems to be so numb.
-- Monica de Gastyne (9/13/2012)
Title: "Back To Basics"
Back To Basics is a mixed media piece that is meant to reflect the moment in recovery when an addict stops doing drugs and begins to reclaim their mind back. A mind that is free of addiction. A healthy mind that allows a recovering addict the peace they need to begin a new drug-free life.
Title: "Cold Dark Place"
"Cold Dark Place" is a piece that reflects being in the midst of addiction. Inside an addict’s being dwells a ‘heart’. It has been replaced by dark and foreign forces. A place that is void of reason and empathy. It is a lost heart.
Title: "Critical Condition"
"Critical Condition" reflects the moment in addiction when an addict knows that they need to change their life because they are not in good shape. The body is not healthy. The mind is lost to the addictive substance and the soul is in a dark place. The mask that the addict wears is beginning to crack. The beauty of the addictive substance is rearing its ugly head. The condition of an addict’s body is critical. To accept recovery is to accept that the addictive substance is not making anything ‘feel good’ but rather it is destroying everything.
-- Sandra Deanda (9/8/2014)
Letting Go "Letting Go" was created as a visualization piece for someone in my life who was spiraling downwards due to a drug addiction. I remain grateful to my friend and art model, Joan Jenkins, for the use of her image in giving form to my vision. - Margaret Dowell
Going for it
"Going for it" is an attempt to visualize what we face when contemplating recovery from any bad situation including addiction. Its going to be uphill and a long haul. But it can be done. Just keep working on it. - Don Dunsmore - (5/12/2011)
In the world of addiction, "Recovery" does not mean that you are "over" your addiction like one gets "over" an operation, or cold, or measles. My two years of working on the addictionandart.org website, and visiting with people who are "In Recovery" from their personal addiction, has taught me this hard fact. Recovery from addiction means the struggle with the addiction starts every morning and goes on through the day; it is never ending. The addict needs something to replace the substance that is his/her addiction, and making art is one such replacement.
"Recovery Road" is a tribute to those people who are engaged in the struggle to overcome their personal addiction and free themselves from the addiction's effects. The picture contains several symbols that represent this struggle, the main one being a road that disappears in the distance, implying a never-ending process. I hope the image will bring home to those who might not otherwise understand that recovery from addiction, no matter the substance, is not instantaneous. Most addicts, even those who have been clean and sober for many years, still describe themselves as "Recovering". -- Don Dunsmore - (7/24/2012)
The Joker - Ceramic Sculpture
"The Joker" is a visual representation of the "trick" that is played on gamblers. Gambling seems like a harmless pastime with enjoyable returns, but the addiction of gambling will chew up your life! Homes are lost, savings are lost. Eventually, your family, friends, and employer no longer trust you--a very high price for a pastime. - Jane Dunsmore http://home.comcast.net/~giclier/ (9/30/2011)
The Heart Attack
This work is entitled simply, "The Heart Attack". It depicts the irrational life of a chain smoker who will not, or cannot, quit. In the beginning, the smoker is happy with the smoking habit, believing they are enjoying it. Then, over time, illnesses occur and their health is affected . Still, the tobacco addict smokes, in spite of the obvious health damage the habit causes. Then, the inevitable... a heart attack. And yet, the smoking continues - in the coffin. Yes, there is black humor in this work. I believe, when talking about smoking addiction, black humor is appropriate. I want the message of this work to be that there is no recovery without changing irrational mentality and obsessive habits.
I am a visual artist living in Dublin, Ireland. --Ewa Fornal (4/6/2012)
Window into an Addiction - 11 x 14 inch oil on canvas
"I stopped drinking when I was 22 for my 2 year old son. He is 17 now and it's the best decision I ever made."
"What keeps me sober is "playing the movie to the end". If I swallow this drink in front of me, I will be in jail tonight and who will I call and what will I say. Since I don't want to pick up the phone at a jailhouse, I don't pick up a glass." - Amanda Furr On-Line Slideshow: http://youtu.be/3WVNjTabRzo (01/11/2012)
Addiction is a horror at any age! It affects everyone, including the families of an addicted loved one.
I grew up in New York City, seeing many young addicts in the streets. The horror of what they had become was enough to teach me a lesson about what not to do. However; troubled as they are, the young still have a chance to make a choice - to seek rehabilitation. The elderly often do not. What affected me most of all, and etched in my mind, was to see an elderly addict leaning against the side of a building or on the ground, someone’s forgotten grandfather or grandmother, in some cases totally naked in the cold. For an elderly addict, time has just about passed, not many opportunities remain to make a change. Desperate, forgotten, and lonely, the elderly addict survives. These addicts are the most vulnerable, the weakest. These images have stayed with me during my lifetime and continue to pull at my heart strings.
The old man in my submission painting was sleeping in a coffee shop, homeless. He is sheltering himself from the elements and is the image of despair that I remember from my youth. --Sonia Gadra (9/13/2012)
The Respirator "The Respirator" is a personal reflection and commentary on my friend Brendan, whose search for utopia led him to be seduced by the false paradise of heroin. This piece calls into focus the relationship between the life force and an addict's dependence, confronting the inevitable ramifications of breathing in the darkness instead of the light. This image illustrates the threat to survival when heroin consumption becomes a compulsion, when the addict lives to drug instead of breathing to live.
I dedicate this piece to Brendan for his courage to walk away from the beast, find his respirator, and begin to breathe on his own again. My prayers are with you, my friend. -Scott Gore www.scottgore.com (1/21/2011)
"Inheritance". Charcoal, white chalk, and acrylic on paper, 2010, 86" x 93"
"Inheritance" (Color). Charcoal, acrylic on canvas, 2012, 81” x 91”
One of the defining characteristics of manhood in my Midwestern family is the ability to drink a lot of beer. This has, not surprisingly, lead to a great deal of substance abuse which adversely affected the health and life span of several of the men in my family. In this drawing, the previous generations are placed in tombs above me to show how their behavior is pressing down like a heavy weight upon the current generation. Though I was a heavy drinker in high school and college, I began to realize that alcohol was getting in the way of my true addiction - making art. So I guess that you could say that I was able to replace the drinking with a healthy, more socially acceptable "addiction". - Kevin Grass - www.kevingrass.com (1/9/2013)
"Consequences". acrylic on panel, 2011, 20” x 34”
In our society it is rare for an individual to consider how their actions will impact the lives of others. This painting depicts an individual that is involved in self-destructive behavior on the left side of the image. When this person pulls the trigger his actions will result in grave consequences for those closest to him. - Kevin Grass - www.kevingrass.com (2/14/2013)
"When Good People Do Bad Things". acrylic on panel, 2012,19.5” x 29”
Much self-destructive behavior is caused by the belief that the person is somehow directly responsible for negatively affecting the lives of others. This behavior could be something as simple as a heated argument or something as complex and traumatic as participation in military action. Such a person will often resort to drug or alcohol abuse as a way to punish themselves for their actions. I have painted the man in the act of pulling out his own teeth as the symbol for self-abuse because it seems more physically traumatic than the inclusion of symbols of substance abuse. - Kevin Grass - www.kevingrass.com (2/14/2013)
I have always been a jokester and I was once a big drinker with many jokester drinking friends. My intention is to get a response through my paintings whether it is just a quick passing chuckle or possibly others remembering their own alcohol-induced scenarios or from the stories of others. I don't want this work to be just available to the "alcoholic" but relative to everyone as I think everyone has his or her own personal experience with addiction either first or second hand. In the aspect of "Recovery" I feel that if the viewer's attention can be held just long enough in this ADD world to make a connection with my art, there is hope for a conversation......CHEERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - Linda Hubsman -(3/18/2011)
My work explores art as a catalyst for personal or social change; the concept that a small choice can lead to great transition. Each work represents a piece of a story in progress, and asks the question: “what happens next?” The next step is built upon the viewer’s own experiences and expectations, and may help identify feelings they were not able to express themselves.
Title "Hitting Bottom"
"Hitting Bottom" is a phrase that suggests the individual has come to a point where he decides he does not wish to continue living the way he is living now and is ready to make changes.
During an Intervention the person is confronted about the consequences of their behavior, advised that they have a problem, and are asked to accept treatment, or bear the consequences of not accepting treatment.
-- David Imse www.davidimse.com (12/8/2013)
This piece and accompanying poem, which I call "...can't...", were created for a show that took place during the summer of 2010 on the theme of Addiction and Art. At that point in time, my baby sister, at a mere 25 years old, was battling a serious, debilitating and frightening autoimmune disease that affected her central nervous system. With fear and anxiety over her future overwhelming her, it was clear that she was once more heading down her well-worn path towards active addiction.
More fragile than ever, I could sense her slipping away as I had so many times before. I generated "...can't..." as I was trying, once more, to reach in. Was it possible to get to her, to make her understand, to stop the destruction through art? I cannot imagine that it was a coincidence that the show's opening was scheduled to take place on the same weekend as a pre-planned visit by her to Maryland from Ohio.
My sister was in attendance on that angry hot evening in the 100 plus year old building that housed the show on opening night. She, wanting to stay and support me, was the one who sacrificially lingered despite the discomfort the heat caused her with her illness, while other friends and family members driven out by heat, understandably left after devoting appropriate attention to the event.
It was my sister who was there to proudly cheer for me as I received a juror's award for "...can't...". Then, when I was asked if I would like to read my poem or have someone else read it, it was her little shout of "Yoooou read it!", coming from the crowd, that encouraged me to deliver my words with my own voice. She snapped pictures as I read and later snatched my cell phone to call our mother and excitedly announce - what she called - Becky's Big Accomplishment. She was so proud that night, and in many ways, in those moments, we were closer than any two people on earth had ever been. Driving home that evening, she told me how happy she was to see me doing art and writing again - that she knew that that was what I was supposed to be doing and needed to be doing.
Days later, she returned to Ohio for a speaking and singing engagement. She stood before an audience of people seeking to share a message of healing and hope to others struggling with addiction.
Despite these efforts, so typical of her, to save others, she could not save herself. Barely days after the speaking engagement, just over a week after the beautiful shared moments at the opening of the Addiction and Art show, my nightmare came true, my baby sister, Jessica Anne, was dead. I rushed to Ohio to guide and support my parents through the shock and horror of making final arrangements for our beautiful Jessica. Rather than wallow in the pain of that great tragedy, I worked to make our goodbye a celebration of her life.
My love for her gave me courage and motivation to continue her battle to help others caught up in addiction, in the days after the final service and her cremation, I returned to Maryland to speak of her at the closing of the Addiction and Art show.
Weeks later, I wasn't particularly surprised when it was confirmed that she had died of a heroin overdose. I had been able to tell that she was "nodding" when I spoke to her on the phone the day before her death. I had been warning family for weeks, had known it was coming, known she was slipping. Then, of course, there had been those burned spoons and hypodermic needles with a liquid that did not resemble the medicine she had been prescribed found near her body. It had all been fairly undeniable, as much as we wanted to deny it.
Today, the work that I created out of my love for her, is charged with inexplicable emotion. The title, "…can't…", as well as the work and poem itself, were always intentionally vague, so that they might deliver a message unique and appropriate to the individual. It now speaks to me in a new way, reminding me that I couldn't save my sister, she couldn't save herself, and though I can't see or be with her anymore, we are forever connected. There is now so much that I can't do with and for her, but I CAN bring honor to her memory by continuing her work of helping others caught in the whirling painful clutches of addiction. - Becky Jasinski-Lafoon (9/30/2011)
can't stop hurting
can't stop feeling
can't stop taking
can't take anymore
can't stop needing
can't meet the need
can't stop worrying
can't stop wondering
can't stop believing
can't hold on
can't let go
can't stop hiding
can't stop giving
can't save you
can't be saved
can't stop me
can't stop you
can't stop trying
"Nurturing Ingenuity has many meanings for me in a very collective way. Reaching out from personal to outside experiences that I have encountered, and through the study of Psychology I find I want to understand addiction and addictive behaviors. This initially stemmed from growing up in a house with addiction, and abuse. I found that understanding it was something I was easily able to do, although as I emerged into adulthood I never personally engaged in addictive behaviors - I was an outside observer. In a way I felt very attached, almost an addict myself, but just thought observation and association and being very emotional towards those that have been afflicted since it always hit so close to home."
"Having not done a drug in my life, I do not smoke, and only drank short term in high school. I found that addiction was something that overtook the lives of many people that I loved dearly. Addiction can come in many forms from substance addiction, to addiction to food and even an addiction to people and circumstances. With watching so many loved ones and acquaintances succumb to addiction I felt it was a piece that I needed to do to help promote awareness." - Aunia Kahn - www.auniakahn.com (11/10/2011)
Artist Mark Kovalchuk of Rostov-on-Don, Russia shares his painting "Still Smoking" depicting the consequences of smoking and our refusal to quit; and his paintings "Smoking Hand" and the "Smoker" which alludes to the seduction of smoking. More of his artwork can be viewed at: www.paintingsilove.com. (3/3/2011)
Both pieces show the harmful effects of tobacco on unborn children in a pop-surrealistic way. The placement and colour usage depict the innocence of these unborn children, the addiction of the mothers and how these mothers don't necessarily realize that their tobacco addictions could be physically harming to their child. Both pieces explain that an addiction, smoking in particular, not only harms the user but also affects the people close to and around them. In my pieces, I wanted to show that a tobacco addiction spreads to the unborn child and ultimately may be affected the most because it is the one who has the least control of how it is harmed by the addiction. - Beth Krynick (1/16/2011)