‘Pain is Necessary Suffering is Optional’ is a collaborative multimedia-based project between me the photographer) and the people in recovery from substance abuse. The work explores the life experiences of four individuals, from different genders, age groups and backgrounds, who have all suffered at the hands of addiction. For many years there has been a stigma attached to the West of Scotland in relation to, ‘The Glasgow Effect’, which indicated addiction as one of the main factors contributing to the low life expectancy of the Glaswegian population (Armstrong 2021).
National Records Scotland published two reports in 2021 relating to the drug and alcohol mortality rate. Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the highest geographical drug deaths in Scotland between 2016-2020 with 30.8 per 100,000 population. The investigation found that the main drugs of choice were opiates/opioids, benzodiazepines, gabapentin/pregabalin and cocaine. When it came to alcohol the deaths were 26.0 per 100,000 population in the exact same region (National Records of Scotland 2021). Within ‘Social Class in the 21st Century’ it examines the inequality that is still present in Britain, “there is a further argument to be made about the growing intensity of stigmatization directed at the most disadvantaged” (Savage 2015:355). It poses the question if people in addiction are immediately judged for their circumstance, how can they ever feel secure enough to ask for help?