Pieces of Recovery: The Puzzle Project

Photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash

“The opposite of addiction is connection”

– Johann Hari TED TALK

Glenn Simpson, activist and UNE MSW student pursuing the Applied Arts and Social Justice (AASJ) certificate,  was out  Black Friday not to shop, but to hang banners as part of a public awareness campaign for safe injection sites.  See Portland Press Herald article here.

Drug overdoses claimed nearly one life per day in Maine during the first six months of 2018.  There were 180 overdose deaths in Maine through June 30 this year.  Substance use disorder is something Glenn cares deeply about.  He is pursuing the clinical track at UNE’s School of Social Work and plans to obtain his clinical license to become a practicing LCSW in Maine.  As someone with a passion for the arts, Glenn is taking advantage of UNE’s unique AASJ certificate.  Last summer, he designed a project to study the effect of using art as therapy with men in early recovery from substance use disorder.  He specifically noted changes in depression and presented results in his research course.  The variety of artistic pieces  created as part of the project made for an intriguing and inspiring exhibit and were displayed on UNE’s Social Work floor in September 2018.

Glenn continues his studies and is now working on a new AASJ project entitled, “Pieces of Recovery: The Puzzle Project.”   The project is being funded through a UNE Interprofessional Student-led mini grant.  Glenn will be organizing events throughout Maine at various sober houses and recovery agencies where individuals are given large blank puzzle pieces on which they can express stories around recovery through painting, drawing, collage, or whichever artistic medium they prefer.


The Puzzle Project demonstrates the power of connection in recovery and is a simple way for people to show and tell their unique stories. The pieces are then connected to tell a much larger story.   The project aims to create 418 pieces, which represent the 418 drug poisoning deaths in Maine in 2017.   It has not yet been determined where the final product will be displayed but follow the page here on Facebook for updates. Contact Glenn Simpson at gsimpson1@une.edu  if you or your agency would like to get involved!

Featured Illustration by Mike Reddy for STAT