THE ROOMS PROJECT

Stories of life on the other side of addiction
stories of life play video

The Numbers


There are more than 23 million Americans living in recovery from substance use disorders, according to a national survey conducted by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

That’s 1 in every 10 adults living in the U.S.

If the recovery community were ever to congregate, it could fill the 8 most populated cities in America, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio & San Diego.

But in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, they found that there are still nearly 22 million individuals over the age of 12 in need of treatment.

That means that 1 in 13 Americans ages 12 and older either abuse or are dependent on drugs or alcohol.

So how will those still struggling know that recovery is possible if they don’t hear about the recovery community’s success?

About the Project


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A sober photographer’s photo and audio story series on individuals living in recovery from addiction and alcoholism

I started The Rooms Project in March 2014 after celebrating my first year of continuous sobriety. I had battled my own addiction to alcohol for an ugly twelve years, and when I entered the recovery community I was shocked by the people I found there. Here were everyday individuals just like me who could not on their own stop drinking or using drugs. It was through access to treatment and connecting with others that they were able to stay clean and sober.

As both a photojournalist and humanitarian, I was desperate to show life on the other side of addiction. I wanted to give recovery a voice through the stories of experience, strength, and hope I often heard in “the rooms” of recovery support groups and meetings. So I set out to capture the stories of anyone who was willing to share that side of themselves with me.

Since that time, the project has grown significantly. In February 2015 I raised more than $5,000 through Kickstarter to travel to nineteen different states in the U.S. and meet more than 100 people living in long-term recovery. Thanks to these incredible donors, so far I’ve traveled alone through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC and Maryland, which is not bad for an alcoholic who—when drinking—couldn’t stand to be alone for more than thirty seconds.

In that time I have met 109 true recovery warriors—warriors just like those who have battled cancer—who have emerged as healthy, recharged individuals adding value to our society as they live on the other side of their disease.

I met a man, at one time homeless, who returned after a nineteen-year hiatus to finish his college degree. A female ex-con who entered prison at four months clean and now, six years later, is a marathon runner after running in place in her cell while serving out her sentence. Two former Rikers inmates now with full-time careers in the mental health and addiction recovery advocacy industries. A priest who at the end of his drinking had shakes so severe that he couldn’t steady the host for Catholic Mass, and now leads by example for parishioners struggling with addiction. A woman who while working the streets was running to meet her drug dealer and just stopped, inexplicably, to make that call for help.

As a proud member of the recovery community, these are stories I hear every day in support groups and meetings. But to outsiders, these are stories that aren’t often heard.

That’s why I’ve driven more than 100 hours to bring these profiles to light in the hope of giving our society a genuine glimpse into the all-encompassing recovery community of which I am proud to call myself a member. For me, this project has become a metaphor for all the places my recovery can take me so long as I connect with others in my community. I plan to drive many more hours in support of this project because this, as a woman in long-term recovery, will help me continue to grow.

It is my hope that through this site—whether visitors are in recovery, not in recovery, or questioning their drug and alcohol use—they will find someone like them.

  • "The Rooms Project gives those in treatment the chance to shed that anonymity."

    Mikala Jamison - Philadelphia City Paper

  • "The Rooms Project is a beautiful, honest tapestry of the day-to-day struggle and triumphs of those dealing with addiction. The photographs and stories invite us into the personal worlds of those trekking the road to a different future."

    Regina Walker - The Fix

  • "Bauer, a recovering alcoholic herself, hopes the multimedia project will pull back the veil of anonymity and show that alcoholics and addicts can - and frequently do - beat the disease."

    Victoria Mier - The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • "Meeting more and more people through this project has expanded her own room, so to speak, and recovery space, as she continues to work through her addiction."

    Elana Gordon - WHYY

Stories of Life


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Carmela: April 13, 2015

North East, MD

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Jenn: July 22, 1989

Abingdon, MD

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Chelsea: August 28, 2013

North East, MD

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Harry: September 25, 2014

Philadelphia, PA

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Kerry: September 4, 1990

Philadelphia, PA

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AC: January 11, 2011

Columbus, OH

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Russell: September 3, 2013

Louisville, KY

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Tara: April 25, 2011

Louisville, KY

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Jenni: February 13, 2008

Louisville, KY

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Suzanne: May 23, 2014

Louisville, KY

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Sarah: April 1, 2010

Nashville, TN

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Major: March 17, 2007

Atlanta, GA

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Tony: June 24, 2001

Atlanta, GA

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Joyce: November 17, 1989

Atlanta, GA

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Doreen: December 10, 2006

Atlanta, GA

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Amy: July 20, 2014

Jacksonville, FL

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Rico: November 5, 2001

Jacksonville, FL

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Linda: October 7, 2012

Savannah, GA

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Peri: October 16, 2008

Savannah, GA

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Maria: October 16, 2010

Goose Creek, SC

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Sue: January 2, 2007

Charlotte, NC

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Hillary: July 10, 2008

Charlotte, NC

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Ralph: March 28, 2010

High Point, NC

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Honesty: May 27, 2007

Richmond, VA

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Janice: October 1, 1990

Washington DC

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Laura: July 14, 2007

Silver Spring, MD

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Gavin: February 10, 2008

Philadelphia, PA

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Sarah: Sept. 20, 2008

Bristol, PA

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Andrew: May 3, 2012

Portland, ME

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Bryn: February 8, 2013

Portland, ME

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Jennie: June 24, 2014

Portland, ME

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Nate: April 1, 2014

Dover, NH

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Jack: January 11, 2015

Dover, NH

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Jason: November 19, 2013

Dover, NH

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Keegan: March 13, 2014

Dover, NH

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Andrew: March 21, 2006

Dover, NH

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Melissa: August 30, 2011

Boston, MA

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Patrick: Sept. 23, 2005

Boston, MA

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Tarah: May 23, 2012

Pawtucket, RI

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Roxanne: May 4, 2012

Pawtucket, RI

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Father Dave: Dec. 12, 2010

West Warwick, RI

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Ron: December 25, 2004

Hartford, CT

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Kat: September 3, 2003

Hartford, CT

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John: October 20, 2003

Norwalk, CT

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Mario: October 14, 2014

Hartford, CT

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Mike: February 16, 2012

Coal City, IL

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Sarah: August 17, 2007

Columbus, OH

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Liz: February 17, 2013

Philadelphia, PA

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Renita: November 5, 2005

Toledo, OH

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Joi: September 16, 1982

Reading, PA

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Amanda: Dec. 21, 2013

Akron, OH

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Tiffany: Dec. 23, 2009

Toledo, OH

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Carol: September 11, 1992

Pittsburgh, PA

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Kirsten: October 18, 2010

Pittsburgh, PA

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Robin: June 11, 1991

Pittsburgh, PA

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Marianna: Oct. 4, 2012

Harrisburg, PA

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Matt: August 15, 2012

Patton, PA

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Deni: April 21, 2012

Pittsburgh, PA

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Kim: August 22, 2003

Indianapolis, IN

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Robin: August 8, 2012

Noblesville, IN

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Kyle: September 15, 2012

Minooka, IL

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Jacob: December 18, 2013

Saratoga Springs, NY

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Scott: September 6, 2005

New Brunswick, NJ

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Craig: December 29, 2012

Audubon, PA

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Larry: November 19, 2005

Toledo, OH

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Brian: November 13, 1996

Saratoga Springs, NY

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Jay: June 3, 2008

Morrisville, PA

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Susan: November 24, 2012

Columbus, OH

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Tee: August 13, 2008

Philadelphia, PA

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Michael: Dec. 2, 2013

Ballston Spa, NY

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Jennifer: Dec. 12, 2008

Woodbury, NJ

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Alex: January 12, 2014

Saratoga Springs, NY

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Brian: August 13, 1999

Lincoln University, PA

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Virginia: March 17, 1996

Lincoln University, PA

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Hannah: August 14, 2012

Brooklyn, NY

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Rob: May 15, 1983

Bryn Athyn, PA

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Langdon: March 31, 2011

Ballston Spa, NY

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Adam: May 30, 2011

West Chester, PA

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More Stories...

United States

Want to hear more stories like Robin's?
This project is made possible because of people like
you.

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How It Works


1. Connect

Send me a message and we'll set up a date and location for an audio and photo session. I like to capture each person in their own environment, so try to think of a place that reflects who you are in your recovery.

2. Record audio

Audio recording takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Sessions are relatively candid and cover what it was like leading up to your recovery, what happened to get you into recovery, and what your life is like now.

3. Take photos

Photos take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. Each person sits in the same chair and is captured in their own environment in an attempt to show the diversity of people within the recovery community.

4. Publish online

Once each session is over, all stories are transcribed, edited, and posted to the "stories of life" gallery for anyone who visits the site to see. Stories are also shared via social media.

Contact


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Reach out any time

Have questions about the project or want to share your story on the site? Reach out today.

Contact details
Philadelphia, PA
jill@theroomsproject.org
+1 215 290 2993