Unconditional was a project exploring the role Naloxone plays in families of opioid users, particularly how the idea of unconditional love is illuminated by the administration of Naloxone by families of those using heroin. Naloxone is an antidote to heroin overdose and can be safely and easily administered by friends and family of the heroin user. Nearly all Heroin-related deaths are potentially preventable through the administration of Naloxone and a recent study found that 20% of overdose rescues were carried out by family members.
Film by Gemma Riggs
Professor Sir John Strang has pioneered research into the use of Naloxone. Over the past 20 years, he and his team have demonstrated that Naloxone is safe, effective, and crucially saves lives, and are currently supporting the United Nations and the World Health Organisation. Recognising that innovative ways are needed to engage the public with some of the key findings from the Addictions Department, together John and Sally have been working on strategies to increase patient and public involvement in Naloxone research, to increase the numbers of carers receiving training in Naloxone administration and to bring the evidence to policy makers worldwide. The Unconditional project presented an opportunity to enhance existing work in media and policy arenas, by finding a different way to tell the complex Naloxone story through the arts, sharing stories from the perspectives not just of the opioid users, but also of their families.
Image courtesy of Manuel Vason
Teresa created a series of research-based art projects produced in collaboration with the Addictions Department and families supported by the charity Adfam. Teresa audio and video recorded and transcribed conversations with these families.
The research-led approach led to new lines of enquiry and the creative outputs materialised as the collaboration and the process unfolded. The emphasis was on the exploration of the subject, and the outputs were documentation of this process. One of these pieces was a video documentation of individuals (some with a lived experience of heroin use) who first sing a lullaby (as a signifier of unconditional love) and then re-enact rage triggered by someone they love.
Listen to a conversation between Teresa and Sally about their project here.
The outcomes of the project were showcased in the King's Artists – New Thinking, New Making exhibition in the Arcade at Bush House, 23 October – 15 December 2018.
Exhibition and performance as part of the Arts in Mind Festival at King's
Date: 4 – 8 June 2018
Venue: Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, 16 De Crespigny Park, SE5 8AF
Arts in Mind was a week-long festival celebrating innovative collaborations between researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) and the creative and cultural sector. It showcased work that explores new ways to improve wellbeing and facilitate a better understanding of mental health, the brain and the mind.
Teresa exhibited audio-visual works in the IoPPN canteen during the festival, exploring unconditional love and opioid use.
As part of the launch event on 4 June, artist Smashlyn Monroe gave a live performance of a lullaby (as a signifier of unconditional love) and then re-enacted rage triggered by someone they love.
Teresa Albor is a multidisciplinary artist, with a studio practice, based in London. Her work is research-based and often involves broad collaboration. It can involve video/moving image, performance, installation, publication, community-based workshops, and forms of artist-led curation.
Teresa has worked with highly stigmatised groups, most recently refugees, but previously with offenders, including a year working on the issue of women in prison in the USA. This latter boy of work resulted in a 10,000 word piece published in the US magazine The Nation, which can be read here.
Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, with recent projects including the performance Solidarity not charity, The things we leave behind presented in Peckham, London in March 2017, a performative presentation at the Sacred Places Conference in Liverpool in April 2017, and in June 2017, NO MORE MISS AMERICA at the Golden Key, Prague, performed with the Rude and Unruly Women collective.
More information about Teresa’s work can be found on her website.
Dr Sally Marlow is a Public Engagement Fellow based in the Addictions Department at King’s, where she is responsible for initiating, developing and delivering media and public engagement initiatives, and artistic collaborations, to support the strategic direction of the Additions Department, and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience and King’s College London more widely. She is also a BBC Broadcaster, and has developed and presented several documentaries for BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and the World Service, and has appeared as a commentator for numerous BBC television and radio programmes. She works as an advisor on several BBC documentary and drama shows, and is Associate Editor for Culture at The Psychologist.
Sally has a research portfolio, and her interests include addiction and its links to mental health, particularly in women; mental health issues in children and adolescents; and how the arts can contribute to addiction and mental health in innovative ways.
Professor Sir John Strang is Head of the Addictions Department and is also Leader of the Addictions CAG (Clinical Academic Group) of Kings Health Partners AHSC (Academic Health Science Centre). He also has extensive experience as a Lead Clinician in charge of a wide range of treatments in community and residential settings and has been a Consultant Psychiatrist in addictions treatment for over 30 years.
John has chaired and/or served on key committees or guidelines groups for the Department of Health, for NICE (the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence) and for the World Health Organisation (WHO). As well as this, John is one of only six senior addictions researchers outside North America identified by the Institute for Scientific Analysis (ISI) as a ‘Highly Cited Author’ with a rate of citation in the ‘top one half of one percent of all publishing researchers in the last two decades’.
He has published over 500 papers and chapters in the addictions field, and has co-authored or co-edited about a dozen books or key reports. Current research interests include: new analyses of impact of public policy, potential approaches involving family members and take-home emergency naloxone to prevent heroin-overdose deaths and incentive-based interventions to improve treatment effectiveness in reducing drug use and associated harms. A full publication list can be found on his research portal here.
Rebecca McDonald is a third-year PhD student working in the Addictions Department under the supervision of Professor Sir John Strang and Professor David Taylor, Department of Pharmacy. Her doctoral research examines novel injection-free Naloxone formulations for the prevention of opiate overdose deaths. During her PhD studies Rebecca has been working alongside Professor Sir John Strang as a consultant on take-home Naloxone to the United Nations and World Health Organisation.
Professor Michael Lynskey is the Education Lead and Professor of Addictions for the Department of Addictions. Professor Lynskey will be involved in the creation of a workshop for MSc and PhD students in the Department to learn about cultural collaborations, using the residency as a case study.
Adfam is the national charity working to improve life for families affected by drugs and alcohol.