The Chinese brushstrokes juxtaposed against the vector designs were too jarring and I decided to go ahead with vector illustrations instead to keep the aesthetic minimalistic.
For my research I decided to interview recovering addicts/addicts anonymously to better understand the nuances of substance abuse disorder. I have included responses from three of the few people I have interviewed. The rest were more sensitive and I will keep their responses for when I explore this work further in the future.
1)What does Addiction mean to you? What image comes to your mind when you hear the word?
2)How has your idea of it changed from when you were younger?
3)What were you addicted to? And for how long?
4)Have you been sober? If yes, for how long and if no how long since u last were clean?
5)How young were you when you started and describe your first ‘encounter’
6)Have you ever thought about why you started?
7)When you were abusing, did you talk to anyone about it? If yes who? And if no why?
8)How is addiction generally perceived in Singapore?
9)Could someone have done something that would have helped you want to quit?
10)Are you aware of the avenues for help available?
11)Since you first tried being clean, what made you relapse?
12)What was the hardest part about staying clean?
13)Do you think it is easy to integrate back into society and normalcy with the label ‘ex addict’?
14)What would you want to say to people who stigmatise addiction? And who refuse to recognise it as a legitimate illness?
15)What can normal people do to help struggling addicts cope and stay clean?
16)What can family/friends do?
17)On you road to recovery, how do you motivate urself? What kind of follow up helped you keep going?
18)When you were recovering, what kind of triggers would you avoid to avoid relapsing?
19)What colour calms you?
20)What initiatives can be implemented to help ex addicts stay clean?
1) when it affects daily functioning
2) i used to think addicts were low func, but u can b a high func addict
3) benzodiazepines/opiates/opioids, mostly benzodiazepines
4) recreational use now, def miss the high, don’t miss the memory loss
5) 21 when i was hanging out w ppl i wasn’t close to because i was vulnerable lmao
6) i was sad and trying to fill a void
7) yea talked to a friend of mine who didn’t judge me and came up with a taper plan for me but he died shortly after and i think i relapsed even harder
8) idk this lol
9) nah no way, it’s gotta come from within, it’s a very intrinsic process, no one can help u except urself
10) ya therapy helps, but at the end of the day, it’s finding intrinsic purpose
11) lack of purpose; when being high was the sole purpose and having that purpose was better than having no purpose at all
13) if society weren’t so ‘dickish’, the public needs civic education
14) GET FKED AND GET WOKE
15) constant social support, keep checking in on em
16) be supportive, see it as a test of the human spirit for both themselves and addict, they should put self-care first but not blame the addict for causing them distress (@MUM I SEE U)
17) the idea of productivity pushes me to strive n thrive
18) didn’t rly avoid, stems from willpower
19) forest green
20) self-help programmes/self-improvement programmes, idk cooking class or sum lol
1) being reliant on a substance and experiencing w/d or disrupts daily life without it
2) before i was able to admit i had a problem and do something about it through recovery, i had just as many misconceptions about who a drug addict could be. and i used those misconceptions – that stigma – that society puts on drug addicts and alcoholics, as a form of self-protection. i wasn’t homeless, sleeping on the streets. i wasn’t filthy, wearing ragged clothes smeared with grease, food and blood, digging through dumpsters for a meal. i told myself those things to deny that i had a problem. as long as i wasn’t like that – as long as there were people out there worse off than me – then i couldn’t be an addict. but i was wrong.
3) tramadol and heroin. former for 4 years and the latter on and off
5)i was 17 when i first experimented with drugs recreationally and perhaps 18 when i tried tramadol for the first time. my ex bf had a bunch of them from the doctor and he just told me they could be abused for a high so i took them. i didn’t know what to expect. it didn’t hit me like a truck or produced a significant high like some drugs do so i was confused. i thought i wasn’t feeling anything until i laid on my bed and closed my eyes. it just felt warm and fuzzy and in that moment i remember feeling as if nothing in the world mattered. it was slightly euphoric but i still could function “normally”.
7) i only talked about it to my friends who also were abusing it.
8) i feel that there’s definitely a stigma attached to it. if you’re an addict you’re a junkie and everything else you do doesn’t matter. you’re just reduced to that- a junkie.
11) i couldn’t stand being sober. i mean, why be sober when i can pop a few pills and take a few hits and feel better? it helps me sleep better anyway
12) withdrawals aside, triggers and getting bored
13) no. that’s partly why i refuse to avenues like NA and i do my best to look the exact opposite because i don’t want to be labeled or associated with it especially to people who don’t know me/don’t know me well enough.
14) the first step to recovery is recognising that that is a problem
18) i’d keep all my paraphernalia out of sight but sometimes i have a bastard friend who would shove them in my face and think it’s funny
1)Addiction is a habit that you know it not good for your well being but it’s so good to have to cover whatever things or pain that I’m going through.
2)When I was younger, I thought addiction is just for people with mental illness, but when I grow older I realise addiction can cause in Many ways and can be for anyone.
3)Im addicted to excessive alcohol drinking. It about 3-4 years and I’m still struggling.
4)Yes, about 2-3 months, And suddenly get hook onto it again.
5)My first encounter was my 20th birthday. Where i start to drink excessive without stopping till I’m drunk and wasted.
6)Due to stress financially and also the pressure that my family gave to me. My Low Self esteem when it was an issue when I was in my primary and secondary days.
7)No, as I don’t think anybody understand. When I try to voice out to my friends, the thought I was joking and I love to be like that.
8)For me I felt Singapore perceive addiction as a mental illness
9)Hmm not sure, but for me I felt that at the point of time I just need people to be there and be around me.
11)When stress kicks in and triggered I will be easily relapse back to my addiction.
13)Hmmm not easy as people will still mark you as an addict, like how my family see me as a alcohol addict. You are being mark.
14)Don’t judge by the comment or the addiction that the person have. Dig deep and understand the problem that the person going through.
15)Being a support to the person that has the addict. And being there and go through with the person of recovery.
16)Being a support. Being there when the person need. Don’t ignore when they voice up.
17)As of now keep my whole day occupied.
18)Getting myself occupied with activity such as workout, hang out with friends to bring away negative thoughts.
19)Blue and white
20)I’m not sure. Just be there and support them throughout. Check out on them on and off.
Initially, before experiencing the session, I was honestly sceptical of the potential take away I would gain, based on previous experiences of such exhibitions where the educational content was not translated convincingly to the participants. However, “Dialogue with Time” proved to be the exact opposite of that and it was via their technique of Role Play, that we as participants were able to empathise with The Central cause of ‘Ageing’. While role playing as elderly, manoeuvring through intentionally modified tasks to mimic their struggle with simple daily tasks, I was able to gain insight into this otherwise foreign demographic.
The first sharing segment where we identified with pictures we felt depicted the idea of ‘Happy Ageing’ best, it gave us a chance to consider in that moment, what we ourselves would want our future to look like. Often we are so engrossed and obsessed with living our contemporary lives (which is inherent and natural of course), that in hindsight, we fail to consider the implications and changes we will have to brace ourselves for as we age. I picked a card with a couple in embrace and in old age. To me, ‘Happy ageing’ was simple: being able to grow up and live life to the fullest with the people you love.
In retrospect, it puts into perspective how despite that might seem like an achievable ideal, in reality many senior citizens face the pain of living in loneliness once their spouses pass away. It is hard for us to imagine a life of loneliness when we are so used to being surrounded by people, in our youth. However that sharing session, struck a chord and urged me to empathise with the fear, unpredictability, and unease many of the elderly would have to grapple with.
The sharing by our senior citizen guide gave us further insight into her own growing process and how she coped with both physical and mental changes brought about by ageing. It is rare that we have a chance to sit down with and talk to someone of age unless we live with our grandparents. Hence for me it was a meaningful opportunity to remind myself that ageing was a significant and important that issue that deserves attention.
The main benefit would be its effectiveness in contextualising and providing us with a clear parameter to think in. It coerces us to be focused on our thoughts and it is confrontational in its treatment of the issue at heart.
For the central segment with interactive stations. We were directly challenged to complete simple tasks, imposed with the same limitations elderly face. For example, hand tremors where we had to unlock a door while resting our hands in a shaking loop. The confrontational and direct approach of the stations conveyed the sense of seriousness and urgency of the issue. Instead of being interpretative in its presentation and treating us a a general audience, our characters as old people, effectively enabled us to be convinced of the issue with immediacy. Certain people were also pulled out to sit out, to invoke the idea of retirement. It echoed the idea of the inevitable succumbing to loneliness. Personally I was confident that I would be able to clear all the stations with ease, but was surprised when I fumbled myself. There were moments I was uncomfortable, as it did make me feel momentarily displaced from normalcy. Being forced to think about and reflect while under the guise of a role, allowed me to derive a new perspective.
Words that came to my mind whilst in role : Frustration, Slow, Burden.
While people were waiting for us, the fact that we were taking time to complete the station due to its difficulty mirrored similar issue elderly in real life deal with daily. Role-Play allowed me to associate with relevant ideas that I otherwise would not identify with usually.
Role Playing would mostly be effective when we as designers are trying to understand challenges that our target audience deal with, (the same challenges we aim to resolve via our design output). It allows us to have an active rather than passive approach towards our design process when we first hand are able to experience what they do. For example, for people with disabilities who are wheel chair bound – role playing to understand the difficulty many ‘normal’ infrastructure designs pose for the manoeuvring of wheel chair bound individuals. Apart from physically changing our experience, role playing also more importantly contextualises the way we absorb information around us. It attunes us to receive information based on the perspective of our target audience, as we interact with them and in their shoes. For something less physically apparent such as trauma, role playing may help us understand heightened sensitivity and trigger response this demographic has. All these then help us as designers be mindful and targeted in our design solutions. It also helps us identify what to focus on and what to avoid that may be detrimental to their betterment.
With depleting resources, people are increasingly advocating for the need for plant based diets and Veganism. Common sources of Protein such as cattle and pigs, which have been reared for centuries, are under threat and there is an urgency to harvest alternative sources of protein such as Insects, which are less popular but abundant.
” Businesses that have started to farm and sell insects as food claim their environmental footprint is relatively negligible, and that lean insect protein is a healthier choice for the consumer. “
Mental Health , especially illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar , borderline etc are often misunderstood and misinterpreted due to sensationalised portrayal in films and media — The Joker saw many people downplaying the seriousness of severe illness. Personally I feel, people suffering from more ‘conventional’ illnesses such as depression and anxiety are stepping forward for help and are more readily accepted. However those with more ‘severe’ or culturally ‘frowned upon’ ones still face social stigma and discrimination. People tend to be more wary of them and see them as ‘threats’ more so than people who need help. Borderline however is one that is also stigmatised by Medical Practitioners. It is often maligned in the way it is perceived.
“When they discuss cases, the term “borderline” can take on derogatory overtones. A Canadian study found that psychiatric nurses were more likely to sympathize with hypothetical patients if they were labeled schizophrenic rather than borderline, even when the symptoms described were similar.”
“This emotional instability leads to some people self-harming or abusing drugs and alcohol to cope. One in 10 people with a BPD diagnosis kill themselves.”
Over the past few years there have been major milestones for the LGBTQ Community World Wife with the legalisation of same sex marriage in countries such as the U.S and prominent figures such as Artists (Lil Nas X) and Apple CEO (Tim Cook) coming out as Gay. However at the same time, this has resulted in an equally strong resistance. LGBT hate crimes continue to happen and Religious Organisations still deem it as unnatural. This has led to continued discrimination and infringement of personal rights worldwide. In Singapore there is still a very strong resistance to the abolishment of the infamous 377a. This is often due to lack of knowledge and empathy.
“Same-sex sexual activity is a crime in 70 countries, and can get you a death sentence in nine countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. And even where these restrictive laws are not actually enforced, their very existence reinforces prejudice against LGBTI people, leaving them feeling like they have no protection against harassment, blackmail and violence.”
Substance Abuse Disorder or Addiction, is a world wide epidemic that has been on the rise despite expenditure on healthcare resources to curb it. This is due to the fact that many end up relapsing after undergoing treatment, indicative of a ‘failed system’. In the US itself, there is a Major Opioid Crisis due to the prevalence of prescription pills coupled with the lack of external support for addicts. People get hooked onto painkillers and eventually turn to cheaper drugs such as street heroin, fentanyl etc. The stigma stops many from seeking potential help until it’s too late (further spiral or overdose). It affects family and friends, has social and economic consequences, and healthcare and environmental impacts. Furthermore, proper rehabilitation centres are expensive. In most countries such as Singapore, drugs are criminalised, regardless of the reasons the person may have had to fall into addiction.
“Nearly 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2016 alone. Opioid overdoses accounted for more than 42,000 of these deaths, more than any previous year on record.”
The issue is important as despite advances in our technology and healthcare, addiction and deaths from overdose have been steadily increasing rather than decreasing. Addiction not only affects people within the social circle of users but leads to detrimental economic burdens and impacts on the environment. It is a major cause for concern as despite initial successful treatment, almost 80 percent end up relapsing. Most however do not even seek help to begin with. This points to a ‘broken system’ and it needs to be tackled from a new perspective. In the US itself, overdose from drugs has become the leading cause of death for those under 50.
“People with substance misuse issues are less likely to be offered help than are people with a mental illness or physical disability.”
“Drug abuse and addiction cost American society more than $740 billion annually in lost workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, and crime-related costs.”
Addiction affects users and their immediate family and friends. However it is the users who bear the stigma and often end up being ostracised by society even after being clean. This discourages them from contributing to society and many end up relapsing due to not knowing what else to do. Fundamentally being an addict becomes their identity (just like how society views it as such). Those who want to seek help, are too scared to for fear of being harshly treated and end up giving up the fight to recover. Some people are ‘born’ addicts when they are born to addict parents with drugs in their system. Others often have other trauma or pain in earlier phases in their life which eventually led them to spiral into substance abuse. The public often forget that many of these people are human and were not born abusing drugs.
It often ends up in poor socio economic status, prison or death. An addict who does not recover or gets integrated back into society, gets stuck in a vicious loop. They also end up affecting people close to them permanently as addiction is never a problem exclusive to just the user.
Recovering addicts or addicts who want to seek help. ( Remind them of their worth and that they are not defined by their history of abuse). The aim would be to encourage them staying clean, getting back involved with family, people. However since addiction is not just isolated to users, a separate target audience comprising of people affected by a loved one’s substance dependancy could also be drawn up. This would ensure a more affect.
Empathetic, rather than punitive and deterring which is the case for most existing Drug Campaigns. It should encourage them to seek help and remind them that there is a support system they can rely on. It should ideally also come off as warm as opposed to being disengaged. Users should remember the motivation to stay clean such as their kids or family members who will be adversely affected if they continue to neglect them.
This campaign is executed via a poster which aims to deter and instil fear into potential drug abusers. It is personal in the way it utilises a photo to make the message more intimate for the viewer. The fonts used are also bold, firm and white, reminiscent of white powder. The colours are lowly saturated and the mood of the visuals is relatively sombre. The use of an unsuspecting and ordinary shelf as background echoes the message of ‘home’ and how drugs can so easily pervade one’s family.
However the use of thief in a larger font to describe an addict is exactly what perpetuates the stigma and is highly discouraging for both family members or users.
This campaign is based on the organic structure of Heroin. It uses the branches in the structure as a tourniquet for the Male who is injecting himself, while the other branches extend out to bind his kid and Wife. It smartly and effectively captures the idea of how substance dependence directly affects loved ones. The colours used are predominantly white, black and red (Clinical). Text is incorporated within the stamp motif. Heroin and 10 is in red to highlight the severity and danger of the substance. Personally I feel, this campaign utilises a good balance of seriousness and empathy. It calls for potential addicts to reflect on their action rather than outrightly berating them. It allows for thinking space rather than aggressively putting forth an idea.
Use of Family to engage and stir emotions of audience.
This film is by CNB’s ongoing Drugs Free Sg campaign. It dramatises the scenario where an ‘addict’ kills a toddler in broad day light to pawn her Jewelry for drugs. As much as the purpose was to send a very serious message, I feel that it failed in portraying addiction in a nuanced manner. The exaggeration perpetuates stigma and would only discourage affected ones from being supportive. It is also too unrealistic and disengages the public, causing discourse between more widely read youth who are not convinced and zealots whom on the other buy into the idea religiously. Users who view this film would also be further discouraged from integrating back into society due to the way they are portrayed as murderers even though substance dependency has no direct correlation to murder.