Huff

addiction paint huffing mental health Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street documentary photography

Frightened, the girl began squealing, crying and protesting as the cops stormed the bus shelter and struggled to get handcuffs on her.

addiction paint huffing mental health Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary documentary photography

Paramedics on Stand-By

While sitting in there just before the officers seized upon her, the girl only saw the ambulance that pulled up along side Upper James Street in front of the shelter with its emergency lights on. No siren. The two-man crew exited their vehicle and casually stood on the sidewalk outside the shelter.

addiction paint huffing mental health Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street documentary photography

New Patients Welcome

The girl was transfixed on the vehicle lights; probably puzzled why the ambulance was even there. It wasn’t the kind of bus she was waiting for. There were other citizens around waiting for public transit but it was obvious that none of them needed medical help. The woman also didn’t see that three police cruisers had quietly pulled up behind the shelter through the shopping mall parking lot to her back. They had the element of surprise.

addiction paint huffing mental health Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street documentary photography

The Takedown

The officers got out and snuk up to the shelter opening. The girl was cornered. The struggle was lively but brief. The cops had her in manacles and sitting on the shelter bench without an increase in the risk of danger.

addiction paint huffing mental health Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street documentary photography

Apprehended

It all started when the young lady had entered a store in the big box shopping centre at Upper James and Fennell Avenue East to purchase several cans of spraypaint. Even before leaving the store with them, she began huffing. That is, inhaling the toxic paint fumes in order to get high or euphoric. Someone dialed 911, and a patron followed the woman out of the store and into the mall.

Black and white BW B&W Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street photography

Cuffed

The girl made her way to the western mall entrance, and sat between the double-glass doors for a while. There, she continued to anesthetize herself against whatever she didn’t like experiencing about her life. A short while later, in a daze, she left that position for the nearby bus shelter; completely abandoning all of the cans of paint that she had purchased there in a plastic bag.

addiction paint huffing mental health Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street documentary photography

Drug of Choice

This is the middleclass mountain suburb of Balfour. In this city, many people associate this sort of thing with the poorer and older lower Hamilton areas of Beasley, Landsdale, Gibson, Stipley and a few others. Every now and then; however, something happens to remind folks that substance addictions are pervasive in modern society. It impacts all demographics, and always adversely so.

addiction paint huffing mental health Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street documentary photography

Evidence

addiction paint huffing mental health Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street documentary photography

The Intervention

Cuffed and in tears, the girl now knew why the ambulance was there on this soggy, foggy, heartaching evening. She understood that the paramedics had actually come for her.

addiction paint huffing mental health Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street documentary photography

The Decision

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15 thoughts on “Huff

  1. I find it hard to understand why even test, when you see how people go down by drugs. So much misery that comes with the abuse. The only thing I’m abusing my camera and chocolate. Very suggestive and powerful photos you took.

    • I don’t quite get it either. I once spoke to a guy in his twenties who said that he did cocaine despite his father repeatedly telling him to never do it or any other narcotics. His excuse was if you tell him not to do something, he wants to do it more. It might be true in his case but I found his rationale lame and suspect that he was just reciting something that he heard others say.

      I said to him, it’s not like he lives in a society and time in which he could say that he was never informed about the risks. We grew up continually hearing about the dangers not just from our families but also in school, church, temple, synagogue, mosque, on TV, in books and magazines, at the doctors office and even from friends and acquaintances who know first hand of people close to them who have either died or become vegetables as a result of doing drugs. He said, he didn’t care. He wanted to do it anyway.

      That’s the most that I’ve gotten out of someone on the subject too. Typically when I’ve had such discussions with others the only answers they seem able to give is, “I don’t know! I don’t know! I don’t know!” These aren’t just kids, either. These are adults who at least appear should know better.

      It tells me that there are a lot of people who are not just unwilling but even unable to make adequate decisions for their own basic survival, although they think they can. To me, that’s an extremely frightening consideration if that is true because we know that there are certain people in the world raring to establish regimes that take away the free will of people based on the belief that people cannot be trusted with freedom.

  2. Good images, and Sad though–glad someone saw her “Huffing” whatever happened , MJ to expensive?, killing brain cells and the high is Yukky (would imagine) I don,t understand this act not illegal abuse of vapour, what was she escaping, her Home life, I don,t get the use of paint, why not good ole Lepage’s Model Glue, much easier same high and cheaper?–Thanks for sharing Phil–Do you “get it”?

    • Why gravitate to household and industrial chemicals? Not a clue. I even have yet to come across any study that remotely hints at a plausible reason. If someone does know, I hope they share it here.

      Ultimately, as I indicated in my response to Antonia; both here and here;

      https://hammerhomestreetphotography.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/nocturnal-3/

      I don’t understand why anyone seeks out any substance that is known to do harm; including tobacco and alcohol.

      Singer Smokey Robinson said although he’s heard many recovered and recovering addicts cite depression and mental illness as to why they pursued substance abuse, he said that wasn’t the case for him. I recall him saying something to the effect that he did it to fit in with the Motown crowd. That’s all. It took him years to finally kick the habit before he destroyed himself.

      I don’t want to waste dialogue; however, on continually asking why do people do this when it’s only criticism that doesn’t lead to realistic ideas of how to convince others to pursue taking on life’s positives and negative with a lucid mind and will.

    • Thank you so much, Paula. One of the rare occasions that I push myself into documentary photography.

      It was a gut-wrenching photo essay to produce. While the initial instinct was to shoot, shoot, shoot my conscience was telling me to take caution. Don’t let it just be the making of art out of someone else’s pain. The awareness potential of the circumstances is what began to motivate me to try to do this with a serious objective to remind people that there are peculiar aspects of the addiction and mental health dilemma that should not be simply glossed over.

    • Thank you, Lisa.

      Emotionally, it was a challenging photo essay to produce. To paraphrase lensculture; most documentary photography “is definitely not uplifting viewing or reading, but they are important stories that demand attention and action.”

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