Merchant’s Quay Ireland (MQI) has launched a new exhibition of photographs and stories by people with experience of addiction. Titled “The Lived Experience of Addiction”, the Photovoice project was collaboratively created by people who have previously or are currently engaged in MQI services. Aiming to start a conversation about addiction and its surrounding stigma, the work created is personal, meaningful and unfortunately all too relatable for many. 


It has been overtly known that the numbers of those requiring support and medical help for their addiction do not match up with the number of detox beds, places on day programmes or staff available for outreach and open access services. Funding is frequently cut, while drug epidemics continue to grow beyond the cities, expanding into rural areas and local communities. Media coverage often vilifies people in active addiction, while our judicial system criminalises them. Public support, campaigning for harm reduction facilities, and positive change stems from voluntary or underpaid services. 


The exhibition, alongside the publication accompanying it, is the culmination of six months of work. All contributors come from a variety of backgrounds; from those presently in active addiction to people in recovery. People fighting their way through homelessness, to families coping with loved ones in addiction. As cited on the MQI website, the project “provides an alternative platform for people who are often silenced or marginalised in society to express themselves, and hopes to shed light on the reality of addiction – and in doing so to increase the sense of compassion and empathy all of us in society have for people who are affected by it”. 


Located for a short time only at Copper House Gallery, Dublin 8, the project formally launched yesterday, March 5th, 2020, followed by a panel discussion on stigma. Chaired by Joe Little, the audience heard from MQI Chairperson Mick Price, Minister Catherine Byrne, photovoice facilitator Dr Maria Quinlan, and two of the participants in the project.


There are plans by the organisation to launch in the Midlands and the East Coast soon, following positive reception from both attendees and those who contributed. The exhibition is open to members of the public on Saturday, March 7th from 11am to 5pm, and Monday March 9th to Wednesday March 11th from 9.30am to 5.30pm. No booking is required, and the display is free of charge. The exhibition is well worth a visit, offering insight and perspective into one of modern Ireland’s most upsetting and widespread issues and struggles. 



Exhibition photos sourced from MQI website



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