aaron ferguson

Episode 77: Harm Production — The Hazards of Drug Courts with Dave Lucas

The United States sure loves to cage people. Incarceration statistics can be shocking, but they can be cited so often that they can lose their potency. It can seem abstract or just the way things are. But it is completely immoral that the U.S. throws more people into cages than any other country for which we have reliable data.

In order to partially address this problem, some jurisdictions have promoted the idea of drug courts, which the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services defines as “alternative to incarceration, drug courts reduce the burden and costs of repeatedly processing low‐level, non‐violent offenders through the nation’s courts, jails, and prisons while providing offenders an opportunity to receive treatment and education.”

Sounds great, right? Well, as you’ll learn on today’s episode, drug courts come with their own set of problems, and in some ways, can make situations worse.

Narcotica co-hosts Chris Moraff and Troy Farah speak with Dave Lucas, a clinical advisor, social work educator, and therapist committed to reducing the harms of the criminal legal and substance use treatment systems. He serves as a Clinical Advisor with the Health and Justice Action Lab. They discuss drug testing, Measure 110 in Oregon, MAT in courtrooms, synthetic cannabinoids, what drug courts actually get right and much more.

Follow Dave on Twitter at: @davidewlucas

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 45: Overdose Is Tragic, Not Murder with Morgan Godvin
Episode 73: Oh No! Not Naltrexone! with Nancy Curran
Episode 14: Harm Reduction Dies in Darkness—Jeff Deeney

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. We just opened a shop where you can order Narcotica merch: narcocast.myshopify.com Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel, Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy / Nomad1
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: The Noun Project edit: Troy Farah

Episode 74: Cannabis And Capitalism — Preventing Another Big Tobacco with Shaleen Title

For good reason, about 150 million people use cannabis, according to the World Health Organization. That’s around 3 percent of the global population or the entire population of Russia. In most places, smoking the flowers or extracts of this plant can come with some steep legal consequences: long prison sentences, heavy fines, loss of civil rights, the state may take away your kids or deny you medical care. You may even get executed.

For some of us, especially if we live in places where cannabis is legal, such dire consequences for using cannabis can seem like a distant nightmare. But even as we slowly emerge from the dark ages of marijuana prohibition, we’re encountering entirely predictable problems: unchecked capitalist greed. So yes, while it’s worth celebrating our emergence from the dark ages of cannabis prohibition, we risk entering into different forms of prohibition, oppression and inequality at the hands of the so-called “free market.”

Narcotica co-host Troy Farah talks with Shaleen Title, an Indian-American attorney and longtime drug policy activist who has been writing, passing, and implementing equitable cannabis laws for over 20 years. She is a former top regulator for the state of Massachusetts, where she served as commissioner of the Cannabis Control Commission from 2017 to 2020. She is the author of “Fair and Square: How to Effectively Incorporate Social Equity Into Cannabis Laws and Regulations” and “Bigger is Not Better: Preventing Monopolies in the National Cannabis Market.”  Currently, her primary focus is running the nonprofit think tank Parabola Center, which pushes for cannabis policies to protect people rather than corporate profits.

Follow Shaleen on Twitter at: @shaleentitle

Read Bigger is Not Better: Preventing Monopolies in the National Cannabis Market

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 63: Delta-8-THC And Other Obscure Cannabinoids with Jason Wilson
Episode 58: How Racism Fuels The Drug War with Kassandra Frederique
Episode 53: A Life of Getting Lit with Tommy Chong

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. We just opened a shop where you can order Narcotica merch: narcocast.myshopify.com Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy / Nomad1
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: edit: Troy Farah

Episode 73: Oh No! Not Naltrexone! with Nancy Curran

Naltrexone, also known by its brand name, Vivitrol, is an opioid antagonist that kicks opioids off of opioid receptor in the brain, not unlike naloxone. But thanks to a combination of overprescription, unscrupulous marketing practices and ubiquitous use over more effective alternatives, naltrexone is a very controversial drug. In fact, a common reaction is Oh no! Not naltrexone!

Of course, naltrexone has some benefits and many people say their life has been saved by it. And at Narcotica, we don’t believe any drug is “bad” or “evil.” So where does this substance fit into the broader scheme of things? We’ve spoken about naltrexone many times on this show, but never this indepth before.

Narcotica co-hosts Zachary Siegel and Troy Farah speak with Nancy Curran, a nurse practitioner who has been practicing for 5 years in an OBOT clinic in the Lowell Massachusetts area, treating both opioid and alcohol use disorders. She prescribes buprenorphine (both Suboxone and Sublocade), as well as naltrexone (Vivitrol). She also treats patients who need Hep C treatment. Nancy is passionate about advocating for and educating her patients on their medication options, as well as their rights.

They discuss the history of hallucinogenic opioids, the shrewd and quasilegal marketing practices of Alkermes, Inc., how naltrexone stacks up against buprenorphine and methadone, why stigma persists against people who take certain opioid use disorder drugs but not others, the difference between addiction and dependency, some basic opioid receptor science, and much, much more.

Follow Nancy on Twitter at: @cashboygo

More background on naltrexone and the XBOT Studay can be found here and here. We also recommend reading Walter Sneader’s book: Drug Discovery, A History and also Nancy Campbell’s book OD: The Politics of Overdose.

You can read Zach’s article on Four Good Days and more here: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/11/magazine/addiction-movies.html

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 19: Debunking Bupe Diversion Myths with Molly Doernberg
Episode 30: Getting Wrecked with Dr. Kim Sue
Episode 36: Moral Hazards and Naloxone, A Toxicologist’s Perspective with Ryan Marino

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. We just opened a shop where you can order Narcotica merch: narcocast.myshopify.com Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy / Nomad1
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: edit: Troy Farah

Episode 72: When The Trip Doesn’t End with Ed Prideaux

Psychedelics and other drugs can trigger a condition called Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, a terrible name for a real condition that we don’t have much data on and is poorly understood. But while it’s clear that psychedelics shouldn’t be illegal, it’s also clear we’re still learning about some of the risks. This fascinating and often distressing phenomenon deserves a closer look, but not everything about it is devastatingly tragic, either.

In this episode of Narcotica, co-host Troy Farah talks all about HPPD with Ed Prideaux, a master’s student in psychology at the University of East London with a background in journalism. Ed is currently focused on researching and addressing the problems, possibilities and questions raised by HPPD: a broad, under-researched and not entirely uncommon condition in which people experience sustained and distressing changes to their visual perception (among other effects) after psychedelic trips. Ed has lived with these visual effects for nearly seven years, and is affiliated with a nonprofit launched last year to promote harm reduction around HPPD called the Perception Restoration Foundation.

Follow Ed at https://edprideaux.journoportfolio.com/
Visit the Perception Restoration Foundation at: Perception.Foundation

Some more info on perception as a hallucination: https://www.newstatesman.com/science-tech/2022/02/is-reality-a-hallucination-the-neuroscientist-anil-seth-thinks-so

Some of the studies mentioned in this episode:
The abuse potential of medical psilocybin according to the 8 factors of the Controlled Substances Act
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29753748/
Flashback phenomena after administration of LSD and psilocybin in controlled studies with healthy participants
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35076721/
Adverse effects of psychedelics: From anecdotes and misinformation to systematic science
https://doi.org/10.1177%2F02698811211069100

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 57: Autism, Acid and the Altered Brain with Aaron Orsini and Justine Lee
Episode 64: LSD And Psilocybin For Physical Pain? with Greg McKee and Dr. Johannes Ramaekers
Episode 59: Psychedelic Extinction—How Poaching Endangers Some Psychoactive Plants with Dr. Anya Ermakova

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. We just opened a shop where you can order Narcotica merch: narcocast.myshopify.com Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

*Note: Troy says niacin is Vitamin C, it’s actually Vitamin B3. We regret the error.

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy / Nomad1
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: David J / Flickr // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 68: Is The Drug War Getting Better… Or Worse? with Zach Siegel, Chris Moraff and Troy Farah

On this episode, Narcotica co-hosts Zachary Siegel, Chris Moraff and Troy Farah interview each other, riffing on one question: Is the drug war getting better… Or worse? They cover everything from nitazenes, Dopesick, the Drug User’s Liberation Front, banning psychedelics like DiPT, benzo dope, West Virginia, buprenorphine, psychedelic exceptionalism, drug testing, crack pipes, supervised consumption sites in NYC and much, much, more.

Their conclusion? You’ll have to listen to find out. OK, not really: Like many things, it’s a mix of both progress and backsliding. Narcotica’s founders discuss their current frustrations and what’s giving them optimism in America’s longest running war, a conflict directed at people. Maybe the end is in sight after all.

Follow Chris Moraff on Twitter: @moraffreports
Follow Zach Siegel on Twitter: @ZachWritesStuff
Follow Troy Farah on Twitter: @filth_filler

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 27: What’s the Most Dangerous Drug?
Episode 58: How Racism Fuels The Drug War with Kassandra Frederique
Episode 51: The Joy of Drug Use with Dr. Carl Hart

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah / Troy Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Holly Mangler
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Noun Project // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 65: Restoring Trust in Doctors Amidst The Overdose Crisis with Dr. Ben Cocchiaro and Dr. Ashish Thakrar

Over the past two decades, as fatal drug overdoses have risen precipitously, few professions have been hit harder by the crisis than the medical community. Physicians in particular have found themselves in the no-win position of being both blamed for the overdose crisis, which claimed more than 100,000 American lives in the past 12 months, while being tasked with containing it.

According to one dominant narrative, it was cavalier doctors who sparked the crisis in the first place, by overprescribing habit forming narcotic painkillers to millions of Americans after being softened up at lavish dinners and then duped by nefarious pharmaceutical reps using fudged data.

But that’s overly simplistic. For starters, it ignores the fact that the greatest spike in drug deaths came when doctors reigned in opioid prescribing after authorities started targeting so-called pill mills. This left tens of thousands of pain patients stranded and paved the way for the introduction of illicitly made fentanyl into the U.S. to fill unmet demands.

Narcotica co-host Christopher Moraff delves into this topic, asking how the medical community can work to restore trust from their patients who are justifiably suspicious of the U.S. healthcare system, speaking with doctors Ashish Thakrar and Ben Cocchiario, who both work for the University of Pennsylvania medical system in Philadelphia, a focal point of the overdose crisis. They cover everything from methadone prescribing to overfunding the DEA, all of it underlining the importance of patient autonomy.

Follow Ben Cocchiaro at UPenn
Follow Ashish Thakrar on Twitter @especially_APT

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 46: Behind The Pharmacists’ Counter with Jessica Moreno
Episode 36: Moral Hazards and Naloxone, A Toxicologist’s Perspective
Episode 30: Getting Wrecked with Dr. Kim Sue

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy / Nomad1
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Stockvault // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 62: Policing Pleasure — The Intersection of Sex Work and Drug Use with Tamika Spellman and Caty Simon

Sex work is work, just like coal mining, professional sports and literally any job that involves physical labor. So why is a show about drugs interested in sex work? For starters, there’s a lot of overlap in terms of harm reduction services that help people who use drugs and sex workers. Unfortunately, these services can be criminalized and weaponized against both communities.

One analogy is condoms and syringes: Syringes can be, and sadly often are, considered paraphernalia and evidence of illegal drug use. Believe it or not, police can, and do, consider condoms as evidence of engaging in sex work. Policing actively counteracts harm reduction services. Thus, there’s real reasons for solidarity among sex workers and drug users. And, as this episode will spell out, there are amazing activists who have bridged these communities together.

Narcotica co-hosts Zachary Siegel, Troy Farah and Chris Moraff speak with Tamika Spellman and Caty Simon. Tamika is the Policy and Community Engagement Manager of HIPS, Honoring Individual Power and Strength, a Washington D.C. based organization advocating for the rights and health of people impacted by drug use and sex work since 1993.

Caty is a leadership team member and sex worker liaison for Urban Survivors Union, the American national drug users union, founding-co-organizer/executive director of Whose Corner Is It Anyway, a harm reduction, mutual aid, political education, and organizing group by and for low-income, street, and survival sex workers who use opioids and/or stimulants and/or experience housing insecurity.

Follow Caty on Instagram @marginalutilite and Tamika on Twitter @tamikahs66

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 26: Housing As Harm Reduction
Episode 42: Supervised Consumption is an Essential Service
Episode 20: The Pitfalls of Mainstream Harm Reduction with Eliza Wheeler

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson / Troy Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Aaron Ferguson
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Juno Mac Flickr edit: Troy Farah

Episode 61: Undoing Drugs—Harm Reduction’s Early History with Maia Szalavitz

We’re truly living through a disaster. Drug overdose deaths rose nearly 30 percent in 2020 to a record high 93,000. This is no longer an “opioid” crisis. What I mean is, 2020 overdose deaths linked to stimulants, especially methamphetamine, also broke records. The other key development here is the further entrenchment of illicit fentanyl in the drug supply, it’s a contamination at mass-scale. At this point, we’re in a poisoning crisis driven by one thing: prohibition.

But harm reduction is the movement that continues to push back against draconian drug policy, even when the odds seem against us. Longterm listeners of this show will be familiar with how harm reduction saves lives, but how did this movement get started in the first place?

To learn more, all three Narcotica co-hosts —Zachary Siegel, Troy Farah and Chris Moraff—speak with author Maia Szalavitz, whose new book Undoing Drugs—The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction—is available now. We discuss the struggles of syringe access in the early days to the present, the challenges of being a functioning drug user, and how harm reduction can help address policy changes beyond drugs.

Follow Maia on Twitter @maiasz

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 22: Changing the Narrative with Maia Szalavitz and Leo Beletsky
Episode 51: The Joy of Drug Use with Dr. Carl Hart
Episode 20: The Pitfalls of Mainstream Harm Reduction with Eliza Wheeler

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy / Aaron Ferguson
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Piqsels edit: Troy Farah

Episode 59: Psychedelic Extinction—How Poaching Endangers Some Psychoactive Plants with Dr. Anya Ermakova

Psychedelic drugs are well beyond the quote ‘renaissance’ stage and relatively recently entered a ‘gold rush’ as dozens of companies maneuver themselves to make this nascent industry as profitable as possible for themselves. At least that’s part of their motivation. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword for folks that want to see an end to the drug war, but also don’t want access to these substances available only through doctors and therapists.

While Big Pharma slowly ambles onward to transform psychedelics into the next blockbuster pharmaceutical, the plant medicine decriminalization movement is steadily growing in the United States and more and more people are taking plant-based psychedelics for spiritual, medicinal and yes, even recreational purposes. No judgment here.

The thriving popularity of naturally-occuring entheogens has sparked a lot of concern from some in the psychedelics community, who warn that overuse of these plants for any purpose could drive them to virtual extinction. Imagine if ayahuasca became like Silphium, the ancient contraceptive used by the Greeks and Romans that was consumed to such excess that it is now believed to have vanished from the earth. Could the same happen to psychedelic plants?

Narcotica co-host Troy Farah speaks with Dr. Anya Ermakova, a researcher based in London with a very extensive background in conservation, ethnobotany, neuroscience, psychiatry and more, almost all of which relates back to psychedelics in some way. She has a master’s in Conservation Science from Imperial College London, a PhD in Psychiatry from the University of Cambridge and a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Edinburgh. She’s worked as a science officer at the Beckley Foundation, and has provided psychedelic welfare and harm reduction services with PsycareUK and Zendo and so much more.

You can read Dr. Anya Ermakova’s research on ResearchGate.

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Some psychedelic plant organizations you can support include The Cactus Conservation Institute and Blessings of the Forest.

That paper on the jaguar trade and ayahuasca is here:
https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.126

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 49: Salvia: Psychedelic Oddity with Ivan Casselman (Plus, Canada’s Emerging Psilocybin Scene)
Episode 35: Holding Space — The Values of Trip Sitting with Michelle Janikian
Episode 57: Autism, Acid and the Altered Brain with Aaron Orsini and Justine Lee


Producers: 
Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson / Troy Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Kesta “Rekindle”
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Flickr edit: Troy Farah
(**Note: At one point Troy says that Indigenous people are afraid of losing the ‘privilege’ of having access to peyote, when it is more accurately described as a ‘right.’ A non-trivial distinction! We considered rerecording this question, but decided to leave it as is.)

Episode 34: “Inside the Bloody War on Drugs” with Antony Lowenstein

President Richard Nixon ignited the War on Drugs in 1971 by declaring drugs “public enemy No. 1.” Over the ensuing decades, the U.S. has turned the Drug War into a vital feature of its vast empire, exporting a drug policy of militant enforcement and harsh criminalization in Mexico, Latin America, South America, and beyond. Exactly how this war plays out––its victims, villains, and profiteers––is the subject of journalist Antony Lowenstein’s vivid new book, “Pills, Powder, and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs.” On Today’s episode, co-hosts Troy Farah and Zachary Siegel interview Lowenstein about what he saw on his journey chronicling the Drug War in countries like the Philippines, Australia, Honduras, and the U.S., among elsewhere.

You can follow Antony Lowenstein on Twitter and buy his book here.

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!
Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel 
Co-Producer: Aaron Ferguson 
Music: Glass Boy / Monplaisir
Photo: Linnaea Mallette / Edit Troy Farah

Episode 33: Party and Play—An Intro to Chemsex with David Stuart

Aphrodisiacs are powerfully attractive for a reason. Sex is, after all, crucial to the survival of our species and it feels fucking amazing, so using chemicals that can make sex last longer, feel better or otherwise enhance the act is going to be like candy to a bunch of horny primates.

But the term chemsex—using drugs, or chemical enhancement, to prolong or alter sexual experiences—is actually specific to the gay community, or men who have sex with men. Drugs used have included methamphetamine, Viagra or sildenafil, cocaine, the anesthetic GHB, mephedrone (also known as ‘bath salts,’ although that’s a broad term), ketamine, and amyl nitrates or “poppers.”

Our guest today is David Stuart, who has spent decades as a fixture in London’s gay community. Stuart is an independent social worker and activist who actually coined the term ‘chemsex’ in the 1990’s. Stuart has witnessed the fundamental changes in the gay community as homosexuality has become more acceptable, but fleeting internet-based hook ups became increasingly ubiquitous, and in some cases fraught with potential medical and mental health risks.

You can follow David Stuart on Twitter and learn more about him at https://www.davidstuart.org/

Follow Narcotica on Facebook, Twitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!
Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel 
Co-Producer: Aaron Ferguson 
Music: Glass Boy / Monplaisir
Photo: Linnaea Mallette / Edit Troy Farah

Episode 30: Getting Wrecked with Dr. Kim Sue

Doctors are often blamed for prescribing America into the opioid crisis. Their reckless actions, relying on opioids to relieve just about every morsel of pain, ignited the deadliest overdose crisis in history, so we’re told. Of course, the narrative around doctors is much more complex than that.

But one truth is inescapable: Without doctors prescribing methadone and buprenorphine, and taking care of some of the most marginalized people in the health care system, like incarcerated women, there is no end to the crisis in sight. Meet Dr. Kimberly Sue, the medical director of the Harm Reduction Coalition, and a leader in addiction medicine. Dr. Sue wrote a new book, Getting Wrecked: Women, Incarceration, and the American Opioid Crisis. In this episode, co-host Zachary Siegel interviews Dr. Sue, and they talk about women’s self-determination, the brutality of incarceration, and they imagine a world where women are treated humanely, not criminalized. 

Buy Dr. Sue’s book: https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520293212/getting-wrecked
Follow Dr. Sue on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrKimSue

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!
Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-Producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy, Pictures of the Floating World

Episode 28: Antibiotic Resistance and Doping at the Olympics with Mike Pearl

Antibiotic resistance and doping at the Olympics are two pretty unrelated ideas, but they’re both covered in the new book ‘The Day It Finally Happens’ by author and journalist Mike Pearl, who sat down in Narcotica co-host Troy Farah’s kitchen.

Episode 27: What’s the Most Dangerous Drug?

Narcotica co-host Zachary Siegel was in Los Angeles for a conference on depicting drug use in Hollywood films and TV shows, so co-host Troy Farah trudged down from the High Desert and they recorded an episode in a hotel room. Despite doing Narcotica for well over a year, the pair hadn’t met in person before. (Chris Moraff couldn’t make this episode.) Picking an impromptu topic, they decided to riff on a recent USA Today article titled “The 25 most dangerous drugs.”

So… what is the most dangerous drug? Alcohol? Carfentanil? Acetaminophen? And what is with the obsession with ranking these things? Lots of riffing and banter in this episode, so take some of this info with a grain of salt (it’s not medical advice) and we’ll be back to interviewing policy experts and drug nerds next week.

Plus, we hope to get together in person with Chris in St. Louis this November 6th to 9th, for the Drug Policy Reform conference. More details here: http://www.reformconference.org/

Read the USA Today article here:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2019/07/31/opioid-epidemic-25-most-dangerous-drugs-side-effects-death-rates/39807161/

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Sticher and more. Tell your friends about us!
Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-Producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy, Aaron Ferguson
Image: Pixabay, edit by Troy Farah

Episode 26: Housing As Harm Reduction

Sarn is a Pathway to Housing participant in Philadelphia via Chris Moraff

The Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia is often described as “ground zero” in the overdose crisis. The New York Times Magazine gave Kensington’s open air drug market the dubious title, “The Walmart of Heroin.” Of course, if you take a tour of Kensington without a DEA agent nearby, you might meet someone like Sarn, who after years of unstable housing and chaotic drug use, now has his own place to live. Operating from a Housing First model, organizations like Pathways to Housing are fighting the tides of endemic poverty, homelessness, and addiction. On today’s show, the crew interviews Sarn and Matt Tice, of Pathways to Housing, about how “Housing First” is a critical response to Philly’s overdose crisis.

Follow Matt Tice on Twitter and learn more about Pathways on their website.

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Sticher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-Producer: Aaron Ferguson 
Music: Glass Boy, Aaron Ferguson
Image: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah

Episode 25: Banning Kratom Will Escalate the Opioid Overdose Crisis with Walter Prozialeck

Kratom, a strange plant from Southeast Asia has become one of the most controversial herbs in the United States. In this episode, Troy Farah breaks down the risks and potential benefits of this unique tree and why banning it would likely lead to a devastating increase in deaths in the opioid overdose crisis with Walter Prozialeck, a pharmacology professor at Midwestern University, who has a long-standing interest in herbal medicine, including marijuana and kratom. Topics discussed on this episode, recorded June 26, include why people use kratom, the pharmacokinetics of kratom alkaloids including actual overdose potential, cicadas infected with psilocybin-producing fungi, conspiracy theories about former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, and much more.

Read Prozialeck’s paper here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.05.003

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Sticher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-Producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy, Ian Sutherland and Junglemire
Additional audio engineering: Troy Farah
Image Credit: Wikipedia / edit by Troy Farah

Episode 24: How To Get Abortion Pills Feat. Lynn Paltrow and Francine Coeytaux

What does abortion access have to do with the war on drugs? EVERYTHING. On this episode, we talk about some of the most controversial drugs of them all, drugs that are often overlooked in the debate about reforming drug policy: abortifacients, drugs that induce miscarriage, ending pregnancies. Specifically, misoprostol and mifepristone. We speak with Lynn Paltrow, the founder and executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women and Francine Coeytaux co-founder of Plan C Pills, co-founder of the Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research, and a founder of the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health.

If you need to obtain abortion pills, for any reason, for yourself, for your mother, for your sister, or your neighbor, go to PlanCPills.org or AidAccess.org.

You can order these drugs discreetly and they will arrive at your door with your Amazon packages and student loan bills. Here are also abortion funds in states where regressive laws are threatening a woman’s right to choose:

https://abortionfunds.org/fund/yellowhammer-fund/
https://abortionfunds.org/fund/gateway-womens-access-fund
/
Here’s a great list from Bustle: https://www.bustle.com/p/11-abortion-funds-in-alabama-georgia-kentucky-other-states-you-can-donate-to-rn-17895282
You can find Lynn Paltrow on Twitter at @LynnPaltrow and advocatesforpregnantwomen.org
Learn more about Francine Coeytaux in this New York Times piece.


You can find Lynn Paltrow on Twitter at @LynnPaltrow and advocatesforpregnantwomen.org
Learn more about Francine Coeytaux in this New York Times piece.

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Sticher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-Producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy and Aaron Ferguson
Additional audio engineering: Troy Farah

Episode 23: Bring Back Prescription Heroin! with Travis Lupick

With perhaps the exception of fentanyl, no drug is seen as more dangerous or controversial than heroin. But when you look at decades of medical literature, it’s clear that heroin, also known as diacetylmorphine, is just another opioid, and it has a place in medicine. On this episode, Troy Farah and Zachary Siegel discuss the controversial idea of prescription heroin with Canadian journalist Travis Lupick, author of Fighting for Space.

You can follow Travis Lupick @tlupick Twitter here.

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Sticher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-Producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy and Aaron Ferguson
Image Credit: Wikipedia / Edit by Troy Farah

Episode 22: Changing the Narrative with Maia Szalavitz and Leo Beletsky

On this episode Narcotica highlights a new project from the Health in Justice Action Lab at Northeastern University called Changing The Narrative, which aims to correct flawed narratives about drugs, debunked myths, old tropes, and stigmatizing language in mainstream media.

Episode 20: The Pitfalls of Mainstream Harm Reduction with Eliza Wheeler

via Troy Farah

In this episode, Chris and Zach sit down with Eliza Wheeler of the Harm Reduction Coalition in San Francisco. Wheeler has been working in harm reduction, distributing syringes and naloxone directly to people who use drugs, for over two decades. She’s seen a lot of progress in her lifetime. But as harm reduction goes mainstream, Wheeler sees how easily the bedrock values and principles of the movement can be compromised and coopted by political forces. Zach, Chris, and Eliza talk about how funds for naloxone get in the wrong hands, how syringe exchanges deal with NIMBYism, and how the heart of her harm reduction philosophy is bodily autonomy.

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated!

Follow the DOPE Project ‏and the Harm Reduction Coalition on Twitter.

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-Producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy and Aaron Ferguson
Image Credit: Chris Moraff / Edit by Troy Farah