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Photographer Documents Heroin Addict’s Recovery

By Jeannie Colter

When photographer Tony Fouhse began to photograph heroin addict Stephanie MacDonald, he didn’t seem to think their acquaintance would have an upbeat result. Based on Fouhse’s own interpretation, it was not a solo creative project but a collaboration: he wanted to take pictures of MacDonald and she agreed. As he tells, they were “…two people who just wanted something from each other.”

Fouhse has a series of portraits of drug addicts that he titles User, not only to describe the relationship the addicts had with drugs but to also describe the relationship he as a photographer had with the addicts he photographed.

Fouhse wanted to get images of drug addicts in Ottawa, Canada but MacDonald wanted help to escape addiction. Live Through This, the book he compiled with images of MacDonald, has a different theme than User:

“Unlike User, the portraits in Live Through This are less about life on the streets and instead document one person’s attempt to reclaim her life. In the process, she becomes a muse for a story of addiction, pain and the hope of recovery.”

After photographing her several times, Fouhse reached out to MacDonald, asking if there was something he could do to help and she responded that she wanted to go to rehab. It turned out that as a result of her heroin use, McDonald had a cerebral abscess and an operation was necessary before she would be able to start rehab. After the surgery, MacDonald moved in with Fouhse and his wife because she had nowhere else to go. The way Fouhse sees it, she would have gone back to drugs and probably would have died.

While staying with the photographer, MacDonald helped with the photos and wrote some of the text that appears in the book. She now lives on her own and Fouhse has photographed her looking “peaceful and healthy.”

If someone you know is struggling with addiction, reaching out to them may be just what they need to find the courage to enter Florida drug and alcohol rehab and begin the process of addiction recovery.