suicide

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 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

Episode 41: What Does It All Ketamine?

Ketamine is one of the most versatile drugs on Earth, an amazing anesthetic that can relieve pain without the same risk of respiratory failure as opioids (nothing against them, of course.) Overwhelming evidence also suggests ketamine can rapidly reverse suicidal thoughts, making it a potent treatment for PTSD and treatment-resistant depression. 

Last year, a specialized blend of ketamine called esketamine was approved by the FDA to treat depression, the first new major depression drug in more than 30 years, but its use has proven controversial. Meanwhile, dozens of clinics are popping up across North America, offering off-label use of ketamine to treat a wide range of issues. 

Yet, somehow ketamine is most often conflated with recreational use because it can give an ecstatic, lucid, out-of-body trip known as a dissociative hallucination. According to several surveys, including one published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, ketamine has the highest semantic similarity to a near-death experience. What is it about this intriguing drug that makes it so popular, both clinically and elsewhere?

Our guest is Dr. Erica Zelfand, an integrative and functional medicine physician, who has written about how to get the most of ketamine therapy.

You can follow Dr. Erica Zelfand on Facebook and learn more at https://ericazelfand.com/

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!

Shout-out to one of our longest Patreon supporters, Trystereo, a volunteer-run harm reduction collective in New Orleans that has been one of our earliest fans. They’re doing great work in Louisiana offering overdose prevention tools and free safer drug use and sex supplies. We rely on contributors like Trystereo to keep the lights on and free of corporate influence. Find out more at trystereo.org

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Pictures of the Floating World
Image: louise stockton / edit: Troy Farah
Two clarifications we want to make: In the intro, we say that “no other drug will make you feel like you died and left your body.” We mean *compared to ketamine.* So there’s no room for confusion, we obviously weren’t implying ketamine is the only drug that is like a near-death experience, ketamine is simply the closest, and this semantic similarity is based on a number of surveys, which are not necessarily fully reliable as they are self-reported.

Second, around the 44:00 mark, we used Compass Pathways as an example of a company that is doing psychedelic research, but didn’t mean to also imply that they are opening ketamine clinics. Many psychedelic research companies, including Mind Medicine Inc, Mindbloom, and Field Trip Health, are going this route, but so far Compass is focused solely on psilocybin. We care deeply about accuracy at Narcotica, so this is just for clarity’s sake.


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 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 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.