A mom from Fresno, California has been a photographer for 15 years. Her recent photographs, however, tell a heartbreaking story that brings awareness to drug use.
According to KMPH, in June, Michelle Garcia went to meet with her son, Michael, 20, for coffee. When she arrived, she found him lying on the ground outside of the shop in Fresno Tower District, according to The Fresno Bee.
With Michael’s consent, Garcia created a Facebook post to highlight her son’s struggle with addiction as well as bring awareness to the effects of drug use through photographs.
In her Facebook post, Garcia wrote, in part:
Now addicts are faced with tainted drugs that are laced with fentanyl and that is killing people at a rapid rate. Michael suffers from what is called a dual diagnosis. Meaning he has schizophrenia and drug addiction both of which he is scared to battle.
In the first photograph of her post, which took place in April of last year, Garcia and Michael are seen smiling together. He was in “great spirits,” she told KMPH.
In a recent photograph, Michael is seen lying on the ground near two trash bins.
According to The Fresno Bee, Michael started spiraling downward after he went through a terrible breakup. He lost everything— his job, his home, his car.
He turned to cocaine, then meth and heroin. The photos show the effects of the opioid crisis:
“The opiate epidemic is real and it is out of control. It is a wildfire. I would rather be posting pictures of him graduating college or starting a career.”
At first the photos were a coping mechanism for Garcia, but last weekend Michael asked her to share them with the world. She explained to KMPH:
“He’d be like, ‘Have you posted those pictures online?’ … ‘People should see what it’s really like out here. I want you to post them.’ That’s why I posted them.”
Facebook users took to Garcia’s post to voice their concerns and share heartfelt comments.
According to the Center for Disease Control, around 66 percent of the more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in 2016 involved opioids. One hundred and fifteen Americans die every day from an opioid overdose on average.
In Fresno county, between 2009 and 2013, there were 298 deaths reported relating to opioid pharmaceuticals, The Fresno Bee reports.
Garcia’s Facebook post now has over 4,000 shares.