This photo documentary series was a finalist in the LensCulture Visual Storytelling Awards 2015. Discover more inspiring work from all of the winners and finalists.

A state of conflict generates widespread social malaise. Something like drug abuse, which is already very common in Western societies, spikes up during times of war. Indeed, the hardship that the situation of isolation has created expresses itself in situations where the thin line between rebellion and self-harm causes further destruction or degradation.

Following the December 2008 Israeli offensive, ”Cast Lead,” a United Nations survey of Gaza residents found an increases in risk-taking behaviour, including a significant rise in cases of drug addiction. One drug associated with this trend, and the most common in this moment, is Tramadol.

This medicine is an opioid painkiller medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. Addicts take this drug to withstand the pressure of daily life, to feel more alive and happy—but the long-term use of it can cause depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Withdrawal symptoms can include insomnia, nervousness and significant weight loss. For long-time users, the drug poses the risk of heart disease and kidney failure.

50% of the population between the ages of 18 and 60 use this opiate to some degree. The number of drug users rises to 80% in areas most affected by bombing, like Beit Hanoun or Shejaiya.

There is a wide-spread illegal market for the drug in Gaza. It reaches all the way down into the tunnels beneath the land as well as out into the surrounding waters.

—Antonio Faccilongo