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Overdose continues to be a topic of utmost concern for lawmakers in America. Last year, more than 70,000 Americans fell victim to overdose death; if the trend holds, a higher number will succumb this year when the final count is totaled. With each year that passes, prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl take a more significant amount of lives than the previous year.

We face a national crisis, and we make sense of the dire circumstances by looking at statistics. However, numbers have a way of taking the human element out of the epidemic; it’s easier to compare figures than it is to see the faces of the men, women, and teenagers represented in the accounting.

When looking closely at the devastating cost of life associated with addiction, it is vital that we never lose sight of our humanity. Rather than looking at the legality of illicit drug use, we need to set stigma aside and remember that every person with a use disorder or co-occurring mental illness is somebody’s son or daughter, mother or father, husband or wife.

Angels of Addiction

Source: Angels of Addiction

When Anne Marie Zanfagna lost her daughter to an overdose, she went from painting landscapes to doing portraits. The artistic portrayals are not of famous people or art students looking for extra cash through modeling; they are victims of the American addiction epidemic.

Zanfagna decided to paint her daughter’s portrait following the overdose in 2014 as a means of coping, according to The Concord Monitor. Now, four years later she is helping other families do the same; she now focuses solely on memorializing overdose death victims on canvas. This week, nearly 130 of the 150 portraits completed thus far are on display in Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

“It is a work of love,” Zanfagna said. “I know how people feel when they receive these, and that warms my heart. If I can do something to help someone else, I’ll do it. It’s my way of giving back.” 

Families looking to have their loved ones portrayed by Zanfagna send her a photo, according to the article. She then spends more than 12 hours on each painting; Anne Marie is aided by a computer program that helps her choose the right colors. There is no financial charge to the families; Zanfagna and her husband created the nonprofit Angels of Addiction to accept donations to pay for materials.

“Each of these portraits tells a story, and the Angels of Addictions exhibit reminds us who we are fighting for as Congress takes steps to address this crisis,” said U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. “I appreciate that members on both sides of the aisle are taking the time to come see these portraits and hear about the Zanfagna’s efforts.”

Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Alcohol and substance use disorder treatment is one of the most effective ways to deter overdose death, and it gives people a chance to lead productive lives in recovery. Please contact Hope By The Sea to learn more about our programs and to learn how the miracle of recovery can be a reality for you or a loved one.