In Pictures

In pictures: Dealing with addiction

Addiction can have a devastating impact on individuals, families, their communities and the wider society. The statistics are worrying - two million people in the UK are addicted to some form of substance or activity such as gambling.

Photographer David Stewart has been working with Comic Relief on this issue, documenting the lives of some of those coping with addiction who have been supported by money raised during Red Nose Day.

Mr Stewart said: "During the course of this project I have photographed people in a way that will hopefully challenge and change how people perceive an addict or someone in recovery.

"All of the subjects came from such different backgrounds, all with their own story and issues, but each person felt thankful to be alive."

Here is a selection of the portraits and the stories behind them.

Image copyright david stewart


An alcoholic and former drug user, Anita has been sober for nearly 27 years. It took great strength and determination for her to get sober, ignoring the thoughts in her head and battling with the help of others to overcome her addictions.

Previously a television presenter and a member of several bands, she has spent the past 17 years as an addiction counsellor for One North East London (1NE). The organisation focuses on a method based on abstinence and has a 70% success rate against the national average of 50%.

Anita said: "Keep your recovery like an island; do not put conditions on it or attach it to outcomes, stay sober for the sake of being sober. Put the same effort into your recovery as you would into your drinking and using."

Image copyright david stewart


After a few failed starts and working to overcome many issues, with support Mark has been in sustained recovery for three years.

He is now successfully employed as a tree surgeon at a private firm. In the past few years, Mark has re‐connected with his family in the West Country and is seen as a role model for people in early recovery.

Image copyright david stewart


Liisa has sustained her sobriety for more than two years. She volunteers within a recovery community alongside her full-time job as a research scientist at King's College London.

Liisa said: "I enjoy volunteering at the centre, it's giving something back, but also helps to keep me sober.

"Before I felt very isolated and alone, but through my recovery I have gained a perspective, learnt to balance being busy and now know I'm not alone. If I don't have my sobriety I don't have a life."

Image copyright david stewart


Abdulla has been clean for approximately six months. Once a high-end chauffeur, Abdulla hopes in time to return to a similar job but for now is using his skills to help others within a recovery community, volunteering as their driver.

Image copyright david stewart


Now over 18 months sober, this is her fourth time in recovery but she feels it is different this time and that she will be able to remain sober.

Janet feels stronger after listening to her counsellors, opening her mind and understanding that she has an illness not a fault. She was previously a dental receptionist and a pharmacy technician ‐ although despite having access to a variety of drugs, they never interested her as they seemed too dangerous.

Image copyright david stewart


Annie has been in recovery for seven years. As an alcoholic, she used drink as a crutch in order to cope with an abusive relationship. Originally a dentist, Annie has taken a PhD in aesthetic medicine (skin care/botox) since being in recovery.

She feels very lucky to be back where she was, living a fully functioning life after hitting rock bottom. Annie said: "There's a tremendous view up, when you're on the floor."

Comic Relief's Red Nose Day is on Friday, 13 March.

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