narcotica podcast

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.

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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

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 42: Supervised Consumption is an Essential Service

The covid-19 crisis has exposed many weak spots in our culture and the need for radical change. It has revealed which workers are really essential—hint: it’s not executives keeping this late-stage capitalist economy afloat—and that we need to pay these workers a living wage. It has revealed that yes, healthcare is a human right and that contributing to public health is, shockingly, essential to keep everyone healthy. 

And perhaps most relevant to this show, the covid-19 crisis has demonstrated the utmost importance of supervised consumption sites, or places where people can use drugs under medical supervision. We have numerous episodes in the past on this issue, so check out our archives if you aren’t already familiar: Episode 31, Episode 26 and way back on Episode number 4. 

We have two guests today: Sterling Johnson, a housing lawyer, who is well known among Philly harm reductionists and has been fighting for a supervised consumption site for years, and Matthew Sheppeck, an organizer with the Philadelphia Tenants Union, a harm reductionist, and addiction outreach specialist that works with homeless drug users in the Kensington region of Philadelphia. 

We discuss everything from housing as a human right, whether cops should carry naloxone, representation in harm reduction institutions and the importance of supervised consumption spaces, but why they need to reflect the needs of people who use drugs. We also discuss the coronavirus pandemic that is overshadowing everything and how that is changing so much about harm reduction.

Follow Sterling Johnson on Twitter @LB_Sterling and Matthew Sheppeck on Instagram @Sheppecksees.

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 / Pictures of the Floating World
Image: Wikimedia / edit: Troy Farah
One correction: At the 21:30 mark, Zach incorrectly quoted Gov. Andrew Cuoma. There were 263 positive infections at Rikers, not deaths. We regret the error.

Episode 40: Harm Reduction Amidst Pandemic

In these uncertain times, Narcotica aims to not only give our listeners vital public health information, but also offer a sense of reassurance and community. If you’re following the social distancing guidelines, or working from home, life may feel a little extra lonely right now, and we aim to provide interviews and conversations to keep you company.

On Tuesday March 17, co-hosts Troy Farah and Zachary Siegel interviewed Daniel Raymond, policy director at the Harm Reduction Coalition. Drawing from the wisdom and of the harm reduction community, Raymond wrote a beautiful post, “Harm Reduction in the Time of Coronavirus.” This episode covers how harm reduction is an asset during a pandemic, as well as how naloxone and syringe distribution programs are operating, methadone and buprenorphine policies and regulations, and much more.
“As we confront COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2, let us remember the gifts of harm reduction.” – Daniel Raymond, Harm Reduction Coalition. @DanielBRaymond

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!

Note: This episode has been slightly updated to have better mixed audio and credits.
Links
COVID-19 (Coronavirus): How to keep drug use safe during the pandemic https://psychosafety.cf/article/1

Medium Post: https://medium.com/@danielraymond/harm-reduction-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-553e16c76623

Harm Reduction Coalition: Virtual office hours

Covid-19: Guidance for people who use drugs and harm reduction programs  

NIDA: Potential implications for individuals with substance use disorders

https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/03/covid-19-potential-implications-individuals-substance-use-disorders

SAMHSA: Guidance for Opioid Treatment Programs

https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/statutes-regulations-guidelines/covid-19-guidance-otp

DEA: Diversion Control Division, Telemedicine, Medications  

https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/coronavirus.html

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Pictures of the Floating World

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 35: Holding Space — The Values of Trip Sitting

Magic mushrooms are having a bit of a moment. Some scientists are bending over backgrounds investing in psilocybin research, which is getting huge accolades from the FDA, while a decriminalization movement is slowly sweeping the nation. At least two towns have made psilocybin arrests the cops’ lowest priority.

But how do you prevent a mushroom trip from going sour? In this episode with author Michelle Janikian we enter the world of tripsitting, or watching over someone while they take powerful psychedelic drugs, in this case psilocybin mushrooms. Janikian is the author of the new book, “YOUR PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOM COMPANION: An Informative, Easy-to-Use Guide to Understanding Magic Mushrooms.”

**As with all our episodes, this is not medical or legal advice, it’s just a brief intro to the topic, please do your own homework and be safe.

Follow Michelle on Twitter: https://twitter.com/m00shian

Order “Your Psilocybin Companion” here: https://ulyssespress.com/books/your-psilocybin-mushroom-companion/

Some excerpts from the book:
https://doubleblindmag.com/how-to-trip-sit/

https://realitysandwich.com/325410/challenging-trips/

https://www.playboy.com/read/bliss-your-heart

Extra resources:
https://zendoproject.org/training/

https://www.decriminalizenature.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 

Music: Glass Boy / Min Y Llan

Photo: Psilocybe tampanensis via Wikipedia / Edit Troy Farah

 

Episode 28: Antibiotic Resistance and Doping at the Olympics

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 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 18: Drug User Unions – The Rebirth of Harm Reduction

In this episode, Zach and Troy interview two veteran harm reduction activists: Jess Tilley and Albie Park. Jess and Albie have organized on behalf of drug users for decades, building community to ensure that no one has to die a preventable overdose death. You’ll learn about how they met, how they work, and what policies and ideas they are currently prioritizing. You’ll also hear about what they envision for the future of harm reduction in the midst of, in Jess’s words, an “overdose apocalypse.” Zach and Troy mostly let them do the talking. Enjoy.

Harm Reduction Hedgehogs /@HRH413/Media Toolkit

Produced by Aaron Ferguson, Troy Farah, and Zachary Siegel

Episode 10: Did The FDA Just Say Kratom Is Illegal?

For the last several years there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding a drug called kratom, a plant from Southeast Asia that is used by millions of Americans to relieve pain and anxiety. The federal government has said this drug has high potential for abuse and has been quietly waging a war against kratom, leaving many people to wonder when, not if, it will be banned. That day seems to be today: Tuesday, November 27 2018.

A new announcement by the Food and Drug Administration today says “Kratom is not legally marketed in the U.S. as a drug or dietary supplement.” This is a distinction that the FDA has made before, but never so blatantly. This puts kratom in a precarious position and invites police departments across the country to now raid anyone who sells it. We spoke to Drew Turner, a longtime kratom advocate from Washington, D.C., about the changes this will make.

For more info on what kratom is, how dangerous it is (or isn’t) and how it affects people, check out this primer here.

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Producer: Troy Farah
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons / Edit by Troy Farah
Music: Krackatoa and Glass Boy

EDIT: In the podcast, it’s said that this legal distinction has not been made before. The statement was found at least once before buried deep in a press release and the FDA has never clarified this before. The FDA may say that’s always been their stance, but if so, then they haven’t been enforcing it, and this still could signal big changes to come. We regret the error.

Episode 9: Speed Up, Slow Down Pt. 3 — The Cocaine Fentanyl Blues

For more than a century, Americans have had a love-hate relationship with cocaine. Once viewed as a cure-all tonic for everything from hemorrhoids to morphine addiction, the drug has inspired infamous rock songs and brought people to their knees.

In the third and final segment of Narcotica’s ‘Speed Up, Slow Down’ series on stimulants, reporter Christopher Moraff examines the strange and perplexing history of cocaine and it’s latest demonization—fentanyl adulteration. He speaks with toxicologist Kevin Shanks, Dennis Cauchon of Harm Reduction Ohio and fentanyl test strip guru Tino Fuentes.

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Photo credit: Christopher Moraff, edit by Troy Farah.

Episode 8: Collateral Damage—Patients Fight Back

With the midterms just days away, Zach, Chris and Troy explore America’s newest marginalized political constituency—millions of people with chronic pain or illness that have been ground under the wheel of American opioid policy. We speak with Lauren DeLuca, President of Chronic Illness Advocacy & Awareness Group about how we got here and how the sickest Americans can we come one of the strongest political forces in coming years.

Listen HERE

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Photo credit: K-State Research and Extension, edit by Troy Farah.

Episode 7: Drug War Déjà Vu

Narcotica co-host Zachary Siegel moderated a panel at the 12th National Harm Reduction Conference in New Orleans. The panel was the brainchild of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Michael Collins, titled: Drug War Déjà Vu: How harm reductionists can push back against drug-induced homicide laws, harsh fentanyl penalties, and the further demonization of drug users.” Panelists include Lindsay LaSalle (Drug Policy Alliance), Jasmine Tyler (Human Rights Watch), William Miller Jr. (BMore Power), and Dan Ciccarone (UCSF).

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Learn more about HRC at: http://harmreduction.org/conference/

Photo credit: Logan, edit by Troy Farah.

Episode 6: Speed Up, Slow Down Pt. 2 — Myth Evolution: From Crack Kids to Addicted Babies

In the ’80s, a rampant fear of “crack babies” permeated the mainstream media. But the claims of kids deformed due to crack cocaine turned out to be bullshit. Troy Farah reports on how this urban legend originated, and how it’s morphed into another false narrative: the addicted baby myth. Plus, we examine why pregnant drug users face so much greater stigma than others. We speak with Dr. Carl Hart, a neuroscientist and the Chair of the Department of Psychology at Columbia University, as well as Cherisse Scott, founder of Sister Reach, which fights for reproductive justice.

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More info:
Dr. Carl Harthttp://drcarlhart.com/
Cherisse Scotthttp://sisterreach.org/
Read More

Episode 5: Speed Up, Slow Down Pt. 1


With all the focus on opioids, Narcotica has decided to launch a series on stimulants called “Speed Up, Slow Down.” In the first installment, Zachary Siegel takes a critical look at how media depicts meth and cocaine use. He interviews two users about how stimulants actually help them function. Then, he talks to Sheila Vakharia from the Drug Policy Alliance about harm reduction, and Kat Humphries from the Harm Reduction Action Center about her “Methamphetazine” that features art from Denver stimulant users.

Download link for the zine.

More info on harm reduction for stimulants here. Follow Sheila Vakharia: @MyHarmReduction

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Photo credit: Composite of Wikimedia images by Troy Farah

Episode 4: Supervised Consumption Breaks Rod Rosenstein’s Brain


In response to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s outrageous supervised consumption op-ed in the New York Times, the Narcotica team speaks with Laura Thomas, of the Drug Policy Alliance, who broke down the obstacles harm reduction workers face in opening a site in the United States. Thomas, who is deputy state director at DPA, has been championing supervised consumption sites for over a decade, because she knows what the data says: SCS save lives.

But how long until we see a facility in the U.S.? We discuss the status of many projects in Washington, New York, and California, and what kind of fight we can expect from the Department of Justice.

You can follow Laura on Twitter @LThomas and learn more about the Drug Policy Alliance at drugpolicy.org.

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Photo credit: Composite by Troy Farah

Episode 3: Remembering Dan Bigg, Naloxone Renegade


Dan Bigg, activist, visionary, and harm reduction pioneer, died on Tuesday, August 21, 2018. In this episode, Zach Siegel interviews journalist Max Blau, who has been researching the history of naloxone, about Bigg’s radical legacy.

You can follow Max on Twitter @MaxBlau

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Photo credit: Nigel Brunsdon

Episode 2: Anthony Bourdain, Suicide and the Myth of Cross Addiction


*WARNING: Suicide is discussed on this episode.*

Narcotica heard that members of the addiction recovery community were wildly speculating about whether or not drinking played a role in Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. Not only do we think that speaking for someone who cannot speak for themselves—especially someone like Bourdain, who was an incredibly empathetic human being and storyteller—is a shitty thing to do. But to do it without any shred of evidence or rigor, makes it all even worse. In this episode, more commentary than radio magazine format, Troy, Zach, and Chris, discuss the CDC’s latest suicide report, and cross addiction, a popular myth that people who recover from addictions continue to believe.

If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, please visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

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Photo by Pete Souza.

Episode 1: Opioid of the Masses


Episode 1 of Narcotica is here! In the first segment Zachary Siegel does some mythbusting around overdosing by touching fentanyl; Troy Farah gives a nuanced take on what’s driving the overdose crisis; and Christoper Moraff talks with experts and drug users about the disease-model of addiction.

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