Out of the Dark and into the Light.
I wanted to get the message out that any addict could get clean; stop using drugs and find a new way to live.
Most every one was enthusiastic. I asked them to share about the horrors of their life and how wonderful their lives are today.
In the spirit of recovery each contributor exemplified this selfless effort of helping other addicts find and achieve recovery. Each participant responded because they wanted to help and be a part of the solution rather than the problem.
They understood that what they were doing would help alleviate the pain and suffering of addicts and those close to addicts by being exposed to this work. My motive was to bring to light the love and truth about the feelings of addicts and the recovery revolution that is going on right now. Christopher Keeley
Keeley´s photographs, which deal with the many facets of obsession, speak to the internal search many individuals undergo during the lifelong quest for meaning and self-awareness.
Capturing pain, longing, torment, despair, hope, and love within the faces and forms of his images, Keeley draws on his own inner obsessive quest for knowledge as inspiration.
His images are unsympathetic, and communicate the inner emotional trauma of the homeless, the addicted, and of the lonely, as well as pride and the strength of human bonding experienced by addicts in recovery.
By revealing the essence of his subjects, the works magnify with often unsettling clarity the pain of discovery, joy of friendships born of pain, or turmoil of new journeys that resound within each person.
Through these poignant images he challenges the viewer to look within one´s own heart, to question, affirm, accept, or reject, leaving one with valuable insights into our own places in humanity. Kimberley Taylor.
Chris Keeley is a friend of mine. I have always looked to Chris as having the inclination and courage to capture his unique perception of reality with the shutter of his camera. Somehow, he goes ahead and does it. In 1987 when this work of art was started,
I heard of this book from the years it took Chris to put it together. In my own experience, I had an interest in encouraging and helping bring to light the love and truth about the feelings of addicts and the recovery revolution that is going on right now.
There is a genuine movement in the underground culture of drug addiction towards health, recovery and spiritual growth. Chris went to each person participating in this work and asked if they would help. Each one responded because they wanted to help.
Initially, the photos in this book were to be exclusively nudes for the shock value and to set the reader in the intimate, touching frame of mind required to reach with the heart as well as the mind. Some of the participants balked at this and so allowances were made and Chris decided that even the form of having all subjects nude would just be another conformity.
There is no final answer to addiction. With time a human being learns how much of life is real and how much is supposition. Personal truth at the level of daily living is the way out of this labyrinth.
A snapshot can contain unintended truth. This book is a collection of photographic snapshots, along with written snapshots are in the form of verbatim transcripts. The participants were taped at the same time the photos were taken. The resulting composition is a picture at odds with prevailing perspectives on addiction and towards addicts.
The darkness is the overlay of myth, fear and superstition that surround addicts and their disease. Addiction is the disease of lies hiding in darkness that allows the simple elements of need, deprivation and extremism to build and combine into seemingly insolvable obstacles. The truth is much simpler.
The dark is a place of fear in much of the world. It symbolizes the unknown and the unknowable. The myths about addiction enjoy great power where there is no way to verify stated facts or unstated assumptions.
Addicts shot fleeing police or dead of overdose are most often viewed as non-persons rather than human beings who have a disease over which they have no control. The darkness is in this regard: people lack information they can react to as free open human beings. While individuals will almost always readily admit to this lack of information about addiction, there is another assumption that someone, somewhere, investigates the subject factually and methodically, bringing to light useful information.
This information would help alleviate the pain and suffering of addicts and those close to addicts. Any life limiting or life-threatening element of human existence comes under this sort of scrutiny, the more the better. Let this book be one more resource. ADDICT out of the dark and into the light lets the reader take his or her own look. We are certain these stories will remind you of addicts you already know.
You may be surprised as you read through these stories how much the dark has enlarged some facts and obscured others. This is not a lack of compassion or interest on the part of non-addicts. Most addicts freely admit to playing games designed to distract and mislead observers. It is part of the addictive malaise.
While some stories invite compassion, we know that compassion alone will not give understanding. This book will brush off some of the layers of ignorance and mystique from the subject. Humanity needs to get on with it. Addiction is a disease that eats up anything of value in a person´s life and then kills them.
It lies, hides behind ten thousand games, thrives on intrigues, and makes fortunes going and coming. After a slow reading of this book, we hope addicts will never again be as pitiful or as fearsome again. The dark hides the fact that addicts are people – people with a disease over which they have no more control than a leper.
These stories bring into the light a great anonymous revolution that has been going on for more than seventy years. Addicts began getting the message in large numbers a brief twenty-four years ago. A significant population of clean addicts living free from active addiction has grown up largely unnoticed and unannounced. Some of the aspects of the disease of addiction have been turned to useful ends by redirection.
These addicts obsessively go to meetings and seek out recovery. Anything that can help them go beyond former boundaries and live happier lives is applied and shared. These individuals have no more in common than their addiction and their desire for recovery. Individuals recover at their own rate and progress is the attainable goal of ongoing recovery.
It matters more where they are going than where they have been. Their obsession to use is switched over to a compulsion to stay clean. As long as they are clean, they have won another days victory over their obsession to use. Total abstinence is the most conspicuous evidence of sweeping personality change. These addicts couldn´t ´just say no.´ This simple way of life cuts across all boundaries of age, race, color, creed, religion or lack of religion. While we are great respecters of anonymity, this story should not go entirely untold. It is time to come “out of the dark and into the light.”
From the beginning, this work has been blessed with special people who helped the idea become a reality. We are grateful to all these people. We have to start with the contributors. Their selflessness exemplifies the spirit of recovery among addicts today.
Chris has been primarily motivated to help others. His Father, Ambassador Keeley helped by editing all the original handwritten transcripts. The origins of this book lie in the special range of interests of the author and photographer. Chris has assembled a rare and important look into the world of addiction with the special emphasis on the fact that addicts are learning to live clean.
Each contributor has done so with the intent of helping just one other addict find and achieve recovery. The range of contributors includes young and old, white and black, street addicts, prescription addicts and famous addicts. Some have been clean a short time, others for years. A special awareness of addicts as human beings emerges through reading these stories; a fresh look into the real world of addiction today.
The photographs from this collection have appeared in the Fifth Column in Washington, D.C., the International Herald Tribune in Paris, France, and the Pierides Foundation Museum and Gallery in Athens, Greece. All are available on request from the author. Nothing has been done to deprive the reader his or her opportunity to react to the content and information contained in these stories directly and personally. This presents addiction with unusual clarity and focus. Read this book the way you would listen to someone you knew. Bo Sewell
February 7, 1994
14 Dee Dee