A recovering addict is using artwork to help people struggling with addiction as the opioid epidemic plagues the country.
Benjamin Grippo of West Hartford founded Artists Against Overdose. He collects artwork to sell at an annual auction. The proceeds go to the Greater Hartford Harm Reduction Coalition, which helps people impacted by drug use.
His goal is to get Narcan into the hands of people who can’t afford it. Narcan is the life saving medication that reverses the effect of an opioid overdose.
“There should be Narcan in every restaurant, there should be Narcan in every school,” Grippo said.
Grippo is using his own lived experience to make a difference.
After being discharged from the army, Grippo began using drugs.
“I started using more and more regular drugs and more and more a little cocaine, little pain pills here,” Grippo said.
Then one day, a friend asked him if he wanted to try heroin, and he agreed.
“I quickly transitioned to intravenous using,” Grippo said. “I quickly got up to doing more bags at every time because I couldn’t get high off of it.”
As the years went by, he knew he needed to change. Grippo went to rehab and worked to rebuild his life.
“This epidemic and this problem is very dark and bleak and a lot of people aren’t living,” Grippo said.
For Grippo, Artists Against Overdose also helps educate people about the impacts of drug use.
“People need to know what’s going,” Grippo said. “They need to educated, children need to be educated.”
The auction is on Saturday, March 30 in Hartford. It will feature some artwork by artists who have overdosed and passed away- everything from photography to graffiti and tattoo art.
For more information about the event, check out https://www.aaoshow.com/.