Episode 67: Methadone in the Time of Covid with Danielle Russell

Harm reduction programs like syringe access, supervised consumption or even just handing out condoms on the street, can be some of the only access to healthcare some people encounter. Definitely not all, but some people who use drugs routinely shun going to the doctor—not because they don’t care about their health, but because our for-profit healthcare system treats almost everyone who uses an illicit substance like complete shit. And people who use drugs have been treated like pariahs long before the covid pandemic, but things got way worse once the virus came to town.

Previously on Narcotica, co-host Chris Moraff did an episode all about how doctors need to work harder to rebuild the patient-trust relationship. And many medical professionals are doing that work, which makes such a huge difference. It’s hard to understate how valuable it can be to receive nonjudgmental medical care that doesn’t hinge on absolute abstinence.

That episode, number 65, which we encourage you to listen to after this one, came from the perspective of two amazing doctors, Ashish Thakrar and Ben Cocchiario. However, on this episode, we want to talk to someone from the other side of the aisle to get a different viewpoint from someone with lived experience in this area.

Why would you go to a healthcare provider for an infection or injury if you’re going to be lectured about your drug use, even if it has nothing to do with why you’re there? Or you might be forced to hand over your urine or have your possessions rifled through by a nurse. Even for people that don’t use illegal substances, our healthcare system is a nightmare to try and navigate. It only gets worse if you happen to self-medicate or enjoy chemicals that aren’t sanctioned by the FDA.

Narcotica co-host Troy Farah speaks with Danielle Russell of Phoenix, Arizona, who is currently a justice and social inquiry PhD student at Arizona State University. She studies how the criminalization of substances used for personal pleasure has become a key issue and tool for social control, contributing to the ongoing legacy of racialized criminalization and mass incarceration in the U.S. Having personally experienced many of the harms that impact people who use illicit drugs, she is passionate about mutual aid and working to change the structures that impose harms on the bodies of drug users. Her research interests are oriented towards community-based participatory research.

Follow Danielle on Twitter @DopefiendPhD and you can read the study she co-authored here:

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 65: Restoring Trust in Doctors Amidst The Overdose Crisis with Dr. Ben Cocchiaro and Dr. Ashish Thakrar
Episode 48: Moms And Methadone with Elizabeth Brico
Episode 56: Drug Use During Disaster with Aaron Ferguson

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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

Hot Spots 1 – 3 Arizona, Iowa and Nova Scotia

Pretty much everyone on the planet is being impacted by Covid-19 right now. Harm reduction services like syringe access programs or supervised consumption sites are no exception. But for some people, these services are not just their lifeline, they’re the only healthcare they receive, period. And when hospitals and doctor’s offices are already stretched thin, it can lead to a lot of potentially harmful situations. 

At Narcotica, we’re introducing a new miniseries called Hot Spots, where we’re going to call up people in harm reduction across the country and ask them how coronavirus has impacted their services and the people they help. 

We have three shorter interviews, which equal a full episode. First up, we have a segment from Troy Farah, talking to Thoi at Shot in the Dark in Phoenix about getting creative with syringe access during the pandemic. Then Philly’s Christopher Moraff talks to Matthew Bonn in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia about services offered in Canada and the local drug trade there, and I round out the hour with Sarah Ziegenhorn, the executive director at the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition, about what happens when services suddenly ghost their clients.

Follow Sarah Ziegenhorn on Twitter @sarah_ziggy, Matthew Bonn @matthew__bonn and Thoi @bjthoi

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: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy
Image: Pixabay / edit: 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:

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