garrett farah

Episode 47: Can Harm Reduction and Cops Coexist?

Something that never gets said enough is that the drug war is racist. This is not an opinion any more than it is an opinion that the American Civil War was fought over slavery. Both were crafted by racists to serve racist agendas of controlling people based on their skin color. It is why it is more urgent than ever that we dismantle this system of oppression, the so-called war on drugs, which would be perhaps better described as simply a war on people.

In many ways, prohibition is far more harmful to people than the drugs that are banned. Harm reduction is a philosophy and a practice that aims to fill in the gaps—if we can’t have a safe, regulated drug supply for heroin or meth like we do with alcohol or tobacco, sometimes even cannabis, then maybe we can make drug use more safe in other ways. Here’s some sterile syringes, here’s some naloxone, here’s a phone number you can call if you want to get counseling, etc… 

Narcotica hosts Zachary Siegel and Troy Farah talk with Haley Coles from Sonoran Prevention Works, a grassroots harm reduction non-profit in Phoenix, Arizona that works against some of the structural issues surrounding communities impacted by drug use in Arizona. The infrastructure of harm reduction in the Grand Canyon State is scarce compared to a lot of states—syringe access is still illegal, for example—so there’s a lot of room for growth. We discuss racial justice in the field of harm reduction, where the movement has fallen short, and how things can get better.

Follow Sonoran Prevention Works on Twitter @spw_az

You can read SPW’s BLM statement here: https://mailchi.mp/spwaz/black-lives-matter

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 44: Reimagining Public Health and Racial Justice
Episode 42: Supervised Consumption is an Essential Service
Hot Spots 1 – 3 Arizona, Iowa and Nova Scotia

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: PXhere // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 45: Overdose Is Tragic, Not Murder

When Morgan Godvin was 24, she sold her best friend Justin a gram of heroin. This wasn’t out of the ordinary. Both of them often used together and hooking each other up was essentially seen as a favor, to keep one another from experiencing withdrawal sickness. 

But this one time proved to be fatal. Justin would later be found dead from an overdose, and Morgan was on the hook for supplying it, getting caught up in the wave of drug-induced homicide cases where prosecutors go after users, who are often friends and loved ones of the victim. Morgan was convicted of “drug delivery resulting in death” by the federal government and spent 5 years incarcerated at the Dublin Federal Prison outside of Oakland for Justin’s death. Since she’s been released, Morgan has used her experience and voice to push back against America’s ultra-punitive response to everyday social problems like addiction, including raising awareness about drug-induced homicide prosecutions.

In this episode, Narcotics co-hosts Zachary Siegel and Troy Farah talk with Morgan about everything from syringe access in Tijuana to solitary confinement to being queer and using drugs in prison. But overall, this conversation centers on drug-induced homicides and the way these draconian laws are inflicted on people.

Follow Morgan on Twitter @MorganGodvin

You can read Morgan’s piece “Money Changed Everything For Me In Prison” in The Marshall Project.

Learn more about drug-induced homicide laws at the Health In Justice Lab’s portal.

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 44: Reimagining Public Health and Racial Justice

There are several health crises occurring around the U.S. and the world right now: overdose deaths, a pandemic, police brutality and violence… While these crises may all feel distinct one from one another, they are actually deeply entwined and can be understood through a lens of racial justice. Overdose deaths disparately impact people of color, as does Covid-19. People of color, especially Black men, find themselves on the blunt end of police brutality and excessive use of force.

To talk about the theme of racial justice across public health, policing, and harm reduction, Zach and Troy were honored to speak with veteran researcher Dr. Ricky Bluthenthal, who has been a harm reduction researcher for decades, writing some of the foundational evaluations of syringe exchange programs. Right now, he’s the associate dean for social justice at University of Southern California’s School of Medicine. We talk about syringe access programs, policing homelessness, “socialism” in public health and so much more.

Follow Ricky Bluthenthal on Twitter @DrPtw
Here is more info on SIF MA: https://sifmanow.org/

Also, here’s the GoFundMe for Aubri Esters: https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-honor-of-aubri-esters

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: Zachary Siegel // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 43: Russian Roulette—Life, Death and Getting High in Putin’s Backyard

The last place you’d want to be dependent on drugs, besides the Philippines, North Korea or the United States, is probably Russia. To give just one example, the Motherland has long banned the use of medication-assisted treatment, such as buprenorphine or methadone, which has made recovery next to impossible for many users. 

Narcotica co-host Christopher Moraff takes a deep dive into Russian drug culture with Aleksey Lakhov, the deputy director of the charitable foundation Humanitarian Action in St. Petersburg. They discuss the culture of naloxone, synthetic drug use, heroin trends, the death penalty, legality of MAT and much more. Here’s the paper about HIV prevention mentioned in the interview and you can read more on this topic in Filter Magazine.

Follow Aleksey Lakhov on Twitter @Alexei_L

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 / Poddington Bear
Image: Flickr / 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 39: Pain Patients Are Still Fighting For Their Lives

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out guidelines for primary care doctors prescribing opioids to treat chronic pain. Essentially, these guidelines stated that opioids should not be the first line treatment for pain, and that other methods should be tried first. Which is perfectly sensible.

But when it came to dosing and duration, these guidelines — not laws — guidelines, started to become widely misinterpreted. We don’t need to get in the weeds of morphine milligram equivalents here, but what wound up happening across the country is that doctors, medical boards, and even legislators took the guidelines as black letter law. And clearly mistook the intended audience for the guidelines: primary care providers. Not pain management specialists, primary care providers. The one you might go see for a wellness check up or if you have strep throat.

Why is all this important? Aren’t prescription opioids, after all, the very substance that ignited a massive wave of overdose deaths across the country? It’s not so simple. Well intended efforts to reduce everyday people’s exposure to high doses and long durations of opioids started to hit the wrong target: patients with chronic, intractable, debilitating pain.

And we have an excellent guest, civil rights attorney, writer, and advocate, Kate Nicholson. Kate has been a critical asset for the pain community, who has been speaking up about how policy intended to help is actually causing more harm. She has consulted on several Democratic presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro and even Joe Biden.

Follow Kate Nicholson on Twitter @speakingabtpain

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 / Garrett Farah / A A Aalto
Photo: U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner // Edit Troy Farah

Episode 38: Dead People Don’t Recover — The Importance of Safe Supply

Public officials have been yelling from the rooftops that there’s an opioid epidemic. Yes, an obscene number of people are dying from overdoses, many of which involve opioids. But they’re not quite right. Researchers who really get what’s going on describe what’s happening to the U.S. drug supply over the last few years as a mass poisoning. Were it not for potent fentanyl analogues being sold in heroin markets, many, many lives would be spared. 

That’s where the concept of a safe drug supply comes in. Troy and Zach speak with Dr. Mark Tyndall, a professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia, and the founder of My Safe Project, a vending machine that dispenses hydromorphone pills, otherwise known as dilaudid. Mark says this program is saving lives. We cut through some of the bullshit arguments about diversion, “enabling” drug use and other pearl-clutching fears, but also talk about safe supply for stimulants and benzos, and how this program is already changing lives.

Follow Dr. Mark Tyndall on Twitter @DrMtyndall

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 / Garrett Farah
Photo: PXFuel // Edit Troy Farah

Episode 36: Moral Hazards and Naloxone, A Toxicologist’s Perspective

An opioid overdose can be a terrifying experience. When too much of a  drug like heroin or fentanyl floods the brain, it can cause your  breathing to stop. Sometimes you wake up, sometimes you don’t. But  there’s a miraculous drug called naloxone or brand name Narcan that can  reverse an opioid overdose and save your life.  

Today’s guest is Ryan Marino, an emergency room physician and medical  toxicologist at Cleveland University Hospitals. We discuss moral  hazards about naloxone, one of the most important drugs on the planet,  but also buprenorphine, competitive antagonists for benzos and  stimulants, and dispelling drug myths on social media. 

How to Get Naloxone by Zachary Siegel in VICE

Also visit: naloxoneforall.org

Follow Ryan on Twitter.

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 / Min Y Llan

Photo: Naloxone via Wikipedia / Edit Troy Farah