Portraits Before and After Drug Abuse

roman sakovich

London-based photographer Roman Sakovich produced this project ‘Half’ while he was studying photography at the Arts University College at Bournemouth. He photographed subjects in the studio using make-up “in order to explore the outsiders superficial judgement of the same person before and after drug abuse”. After which, he combined the before and after images into one in order to make the change more visible.

roman sakovich

roman sakovich

roman sakovich

roman sakovich

roman sakovich

This post was contributed by photographer Mitch Payne.

  • SheWhoLoves

    Pretty sure this artist is not trying to capture addicts that fly under the radar. Some meth addicts look like zombies and I think these photos speak that sad truth. Also, why are people so quick to write such negative comments about someones artwork? How insecure and sad you must be. Just be nice people. It feels good to be nice.

  • Daz

    The photographer….- Right everyone with me?
    The photographer, once he has druggies already buggered looking- which I have seen look like that. Look like average folk but never realised really-like really realized is he face normally dragged down and his eyes are they really so “black/blue”… What did that poor shmo look like before I seen him now in line at a checkymart after years of previous “dwelms”(*drugs).. Well I tell u ppl jst dnt kno till its too late.- that’s what addiction does, doesn’t matter what the flavour is.
    Full Stop.
    Oh wait-:from above- the photographer could take steady photos now of them looking terrible and hopefully-(had health insurance under daddy and mommy perhaps have dental portraits that they could retrieve and mimic distance for perfect amalgamation of the 2 pics – ie: before and after. :-))))

    -Just by the by,The Artwork itself and the Artist Very Interesting take on photography in a non-biased cultural frame. Tasteful and Remarkable.
    25yrs/Jewish Male/South Africa

  • Neal Feldman

    So these are NOT, in fact, before and after photos of differences caused by drug abuse… they are just makeup artists making folks up to look as they think a addict looks.

    Lame and misleading.

    Can any media outlet actually just present the news/facts and let the people figure it out on their own without such dishonesty?

  • mari comeaux

    I like this. It an interesting concept, but why not follow actual drug addicts who want to get clean, and create a piece about them? Sort of a before and after reversal of the original idea. The before being the drug affected appearance and the after once they have cleaned up their habits. There could be still photos of your subjects like above, and time lapsed peices to depict their journey. The visual rawness and the real stories behind the pieces, would make for beautiful artwork.

  • sally

    I know a girl who was a meth addict for nearly a decade and didn’t look as bad as that. Different circumstances starting out, different genetics, etc. all contribute to how bad it will get.

  • ronald

    this has been done 1000’s of times already

  • rae

    yeah because anyone on the streets physically abused or wears jean jackets is obviously a drug addict.

  • Well done, poignant, relevant, and well-comunicated theme. Bravo.

  • Carlos Oliveira

    I wonder why the before and after look so different in terms of clothes, the before seem to all (or most) be well dressed whilst the after looks totall run down… I guess that the photographer forgot to go visit the likes of wall street…

  • Worth doing, but the art pales compared to the reality. Here’s the real faces of meth .. I treat meth addicts every day and they do look like zomies, they even lose limbs and chunks of their body from uncontrolled MRSA wounds. If you want to see the real deal, check out —

  • Paul R S

    Those who can, do…Those who can’t, criticize.

  • Nae

    Um…some of you are a bit anal. Alot of hardcore drug addicts, especially Meth heads, look like zombies so it isn’t poor concept or over exaggeration. A little less of the pigment would’ve aided in making it look less “cartoony” but seriously, look up some meth pics and compare.
    The guy did good. Can any of you complainers do this? Thought so. Give him his credit.

  • JB

    @SD Did you even read the article? The ‘drug addict’ side was makeup. They did not take drugs for this article…

  • assali

    Associate Be on drugs side to urban wears is a big prejudice #Fail

  • Meghan

    I think this was well done, depending on the drug that he was trying to replicate. In some areas you can see homeless people or even those who aren’t homeless look like “zombies” as others have said. The drug takes over your body, and since it’s not suppose to be there our bodies reject the drug. Sometimes making visible signs of drug use on the face of the user. The only problem I had with this was that fact that he seemed to make all the drug addicts (expect the first picture ) people wearing hoodies or winter type jackets. Where the other half of them were all professionals. But still well done.

  • Ruben Fernandez


  • AH


    They actually do. Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to never have met a drug addict or seen the before and after affect.

    However, I would say that this display is dead on!!!!

  • Positive Mushroom

    Funded by the Alcohol Industry no doubt! 😀

    FACT: A lifetime’s alcohol use is three times more likely to lead to your death than a lifetime’s Heroin use. Heroin, Cocaine, etc. used to be freely available to purchase 100yrs ago in the uK in places like Boots, the Chemist. What we refer to as ‘drugs’, and all the media and political hype, originated after the USA’s alcohol prohibition laws were rescinded and the Alcohol Industry in the Western World invested heavily in ensuring their industry was never undermined again. In the UK approx. 80% of MPs receive lobby payments/funding by the Alcohol Industry. When you have UK, USA, WHO and UN independent, scientific, peer-reviewed data showing that alcohol is one of the worst, and most damaging drugs, (individually and for society), it is nothing short of criminal that that particular drug is sold in all supermarkets… whilst other, comparatively, harmless drugs can put you in a UK jail for up to 14yrs if you have any on you.

    If you disagree with any of the above then, sadly, you’ve simply been duped by the Alcohol Industry’s media campaigns of the last 70yrs. Do your research and open your eyes. Look up videos of Professor Nutt’s (ex UK Govt advisor) talks on the subject. Or look up ‘Magic Mushrooms’ on Wikipedia. Sadly, articles like this simply perpetuate the myth that ‘alcohol = a good drug’ & ‘others = bad drugs’…and as a consequence kids are criminalised, crime is funded and lives are damaged by low quality/cut drugs.

  • bill esch


  • choumicha

    Well, have to agree with those who say it’s not done realistic..They are also to well fed for someone who is sucking hardcore in hard drugs. And they look like zombies from the 80’s.

  • Jo

    My first emotion at seeing these photos fake or not. They are alive! the people who love them are rejoicing. They have chosen life over death.

    Question: How long did it take to achieve before and after? Not your usual art school narcissist populist ideological project.

  • Ell

    Meth: The gateway to dressing urban, athletic or punk? WTF kind of classist, sheltered background is this “artist” from? WATCH OUT! DRUGS WILL TAKE YOU TO A WHOLE DIFFERENT PART OF THE MALL, PEOPLE!

  • Bill

    There sure are a lot of people here that don’t appreciate the work that went into making the people look this way. I think it’s quite well done. If you hold up a piece of paper to your screen you can cover over one side or the other, and the emotion derived from it is completely different from the other side of the person.

    It makes sense to me that the artists was trying to show a high level of difference between non-drugs/on-drugs, because that way the visualization makes sense. He’s showing extremes. It would not be as effective if the people looked almost exactly the same in each picture, except their pupils were larger. or they are smiling more in one.

    Sure they look like zombies. Drugs usually keep you awake, less rested. You’d look just as crappy if you didn’t sleep.

  • comment

    I don’t really get how you can understand this little about the world.

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