Pharma Studies

This project was abbreviated: limited studies were made before the artist experienced the ailment which resulted in the Needles and Quiet Portrait series.

2012 - 2015
mixed media

Doctors can appear to be given a similar confidence with bodies as that which holy men are given with an immortal soul. Because and in spite of this: the leading cause of accidental death1 in the USA is drug overdose2.

Roger DuPont, American drug czar under Presidents Nixon and Ford3

The mechanisms of pain4 are themselves not comprehensively understood, and both the over-prescription of opiates and its backlash -- under-prescription -- have become widespread in the USA.

Extant dependencies are then popularly regarded as moral failings5, 6 rather than symptoms of systemic societal neglect or, as it occurs in many cases, the manifestation of unmitigated learning or developmental disorder.7

Only when drug cartels began to push fentanyl (a drug 500 times more potent than heroin) in white neighborhoods8 did public discourse begin to acknowledge that Americans are experiencing a health crisis, not a moral one.9, 10

The opiate epidemic is the product of drug policies which isolated and exploited of-color communities, right up until white communities began to have the same problems — then, with no remaining options to preserve the spectre of white purity and in the face of overwhelming research, the narrative was medicalized.


1. Opoioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures. American Society of Addiction Medicine.

2. About The Epidemic. US Department of Health & Services.

3. Drug Dealers Aren't to Blame for the Heroin Boom. Doctors Are. Graeme Wood. New Republic. March 19, 2014

4. Mechanisms of Pain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Vol. 98 No. 21. Cheryl L. Stucky, 11845–11846

5. The stigmatization of problem drug users: A narrative literature review. Charlie Lloyd. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy. Volume 20, 2013 - Issue 2.Published online: 29 Nov 2012

6. Stigma, social inequality and alcohol and drug use. Robin Room. Drug and Alcohol Review. Volume 24, 2005 - Issue 2. Published online: 12 Jul 2009

7. Drug Addiction as a Developmental Disorder. John O'Neil. New York Times. June 24, 2003.

8. The Addicts Next Door: West Virginia has the highest overdose death rate in the country. Locals are fighting to save their neighbors—and their towns—from destruction. Margaret Talbot. The New Yorker, June 5 & 12, 2017 Issue

9. Turning the tide or riptide? The changing opioid epidemic. Stefan G. Kertesz. Substance Abuse. Posted online 18 Nov 2016

10. The Junkie and the Addict: The Moral War on Drugs. Jay Gopalan. Harvard Political Review. February 27, 2017.


Is Addiction A Learning Disorder? Dana Goldstein. Slate. Education, Getting Schooled. April 4 2016

The Addictive Personality Isn't What You Think It Is. Maia Szalavitz. Behavior & Society, Scientific American. April 5, 2016