“I was in a car accident,” reads the text on a black and white image of a woman gazing upward. “I started with opioids. I lost myself using. But I found myself without them. Now, I am living. I am human. I am Brenda.”
Brenda’s story is not uncommon. Opioid dependency has many faces and many names. It exists in cities across the country, including Cincinnati.
Brenda's story, along with others from the MAT Support Community, opens a new window, is part of AntiOD: Reclaiming Our City, an interactive exhibition co-curated and designed by Dr. Claudia B. Rebola and Matt Wizinsky, University of Cincinnati associate professors at DAAP. The exhibit is currently on display in the atrium of the Main Library. It aims to address substance use disorder in Cincinnati and what we can do together as a community to save lives from overdose.
The state of Ohio has the second highest overdose death rate in the United States. Three of the top ten deadliest U.S. cities for overdose are in Ohio. In Cincinnati alone, there are between 50 and 80 overdoses each week.
In AntiOD, viewers are presented with these facts on hanging red banners as they make their way through four main areas. Each area is meant to address different questions and actions:
ACT: what can you do to save a life from an overdose?
SHARE: what is your story related to addiction and/or overdose?
LEARN: what is the opioid crisis reality in our city?
KNOW: what can we learn from individuals touched by the crisis?
The exhibit provides information on Narcan administration, signs of overdose, de-stigmatized language guidance, and local resources like Project DAWN, opens a new window.
On a large screen TV, “Seven Days of Heroine” plays—a special report documentary by Cincinnati Enquirer, opens a new window, winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Local News. Across the room, there is a station where people who have been affected by substance abuse disorder can share their stories. Each ends with the statement “I am human.”
“The goals of the exhibition are to promote harm reduction through education, learn about access and administration of Narcan, and change the stigma of addiction,” said Dr. Rebola. "It is about switching from ‘them, crisis, stigma, fear’ to ‘we, access, education, and empowerment.’”
AntiOD: Reclaiming Our City runs through June 13. A closing reception will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 12 and is open to the public.