The addict doesn’t get a whole lot of sympathy in this culture. It’s complicated—they’ve done bad stuff. They’ve crashed cars, or abandoned children, or stolen money. But even people who have been wronged by addicts—some of these artists are, for example, children of addicts or alcoholics—they still wanted people to know it’s the disease and not the person that’s doing the bad stuff. -- Margaret Dowell

The humanity behind the neurochemical veil of addiction scores its meaning through art, shown here through photographs, and below as the portraits and vision created by those addiction-touched. This Johns Hopkins exhibit series, artistic renderings as personal storytelling, reminds us of the impact and human connection behind a turbulent disease, begging the question, can we pretend to know the hardships behind something we cannot fathom?

0 Refills Left, by Derek S. Cumings

“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?”

Flower Child, by Charlotte Huntley

“This painting is named for the ‘flower children’ of the 1960s in San Francisco. This emaciated young man lives in a village in Thailand. Judging from the skeletal condition of his body, I presume he lives on opium. He made this trashy hat and decorated it with flowers. He evidently made the opium pipe too. ”

Split, by Stephanie Funk

“Having suffered the loss of friends and estrangement from family members due to alcoholism, I understand that one does not have to use substances to suffer from abuse and addiction.”

I’m Dying for a Smoke, by Marie Balla

“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?”

See more of series.