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Issue 14

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Issue 14 is out now! Don’t miss Black Poppy’s unique hard copy magazine -available now and posted to anywhere in the world. Catch up on the latest news, views and lifestyle issues with one of the worlds best loved drug user magazines; exclusively created and produced by users for users.   If drugs influence your lifestyle – then you need BP magazine for the latest news, stories and articles on drug use. Click here for more info on the mag and whats inside.

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Naloxone – the big hit with the long wait

Id like to discuss a campaign involving many members of the drug using community across the world. As far as campaigns go, this one should be a done deal. In fact it should of been snapped up as a central component in all our national and community drugs strategies years ago.  The benefits and results to be reaped from rolling out similar campaigns is nothing less than saving life itself and the prevention of repeated tragedy, trauma, gut-wrenching grief and endless pain and loss. What is the campaign? To get Naloxone, the drug that instantly brings a fully overdosed and dying person back to life in seconds, into the hands of every single heroin user and ideally, into the hands of their family and partners.

The reasons to implement and progress this campaigns’ agenda are, at first glance so crystal clear, so straightforward, so blindingly obvious that the average person could be forgiven for asking, “Just what is taking so long? – We need to empower people to save lives, naloxone works, its cheap and simple to use, so let’s do this!”

But, after we remove the blindingly obvious common sense and our societies desperate need to rollout these programmes in the face of rising overdose figures, we must question why we still have unacceptable dithering by authorities and a worrying lack of will to progress the agenda.

It must be considered that such delays carry the familiar hallmarks of the common ‘junkie stain’ or rather, the agenda that is stained or dismantled or even left to rot, simply through its association with drug users. However, this particular campaign, which has come in all sorts of shapes and guises, is gaining traction in areas all over the world and recently, finally, here in the UK too. It has the fangs of drug user activists in it all over the place, with programmes that are getting naloxone into the trained hands of policemen and women, family members and partners, pushing forward the idea of Naloxone as a free item or a purchase from a pharmacy by people, even bringing a used one back to get a new one etc.

There is bound to be something you can do in your own community to help push this agenda forward and to get Naloxone into the trained hands of at least every single heroin user in your neck of the woods, in the rollout towards Naloxone being in every hand, in every city across the world.

The International Doctors for Healthier Drug Policies is also taking up the mantel to push the Naloxone agenda, this article appeared the other day and gave a useful global overview. 

Naloxone*

Naloxone_banner

 

WE COULD INSTANTLY REDUCE THE NUMBER OF

OVERDOSE DEATHS IF THIS MEDICINE

WERE MORE WIDELY AVAILABLE

 

What do we do with a medicine that prevents certain death for people with a particular condition—and is safe, cheap, and easy to administer?

  1. Immediately make it accessible to those who can administer it when such a life-or-death situation arises.
  2. Make it available to no one except doctors and emergency room workers.
  3. Endlessly debate the particulars of how and when it should be widely introduced.

If you picked number one, that would seem to be a reasonable choice. Unfortunately, it would also be incorrect. With few exceptions, answers two or three apply in the vast majority of the world when it comes to the medicine naloxone.

Overdose remains a leading cause of death among people who use drugs, particularly those who inject. Increasing the availability and accessibility of naloxone would reduce these deaths overnight.

Naloxone is an effective opioid antagonist used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. On a global scale, however, exactly how and where naloxone is used remains unclear. International Doctors for Healthier Drug Policies (IDHDP) is seeking to learn why this is and what can be done to change it.

Some form of community-based distribution programs for naloxone exist in over a dozen countries. But the quality of data pertaining to how naloxone is used is highly variable. Enhancing our knowledge about the use of naloxone will help us to better reap its benefits.

What we do know is that the availability of naloxone is growing in several countries. Scotland implemented a national program in 2010, and outcomes there have demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing drug overdose deaths. In China, it is available in an increasing number of hospitals. Canada and Estonia have pioneered programs on take-home naloxone.

And in the United States, policymakers called for greater availability and accessibility of naloxone after opioid overdose deaths more than tripled between 2000 and 2010. In some states, distribution expanded from emergency rooms, paramedic services, and needle-exchange programs to police stations. In Quincy, Massachusetts, all police began carrying naloxone [PDF] in 2010, leading to a 70 percent decrease in overdose deaths.

Last November, guidance from the World Health Organization recommended increased access to naloxone for people who use opioids themselves, as well as for their families and friends. Naloxone is also included on the WHO’sEssential Medicines List.

The role of naloxone in addressing opioid overdose was recognized for the first time in a high-level international resolution in March 2012. Members at the UN’s 55th commission on Narcotic Drugs unanimously endorsed a resolution promoting evidence-based strategies to address opioid overdose. Recently, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) published a very useful literature review of the effectiveness of take-home naloxone.

To build on these gains, we need more data. IDHDP wants to find more out about the availability and accessibility of this life-saving intervention. To that end, we’ve created the Global Naloxone Survey, an attempt to compile information about where naloxone is available, who can use it, and where it can be accessed with or without a prescription.

We then will analyze the results with the short-term goal of obtaining as much information as possible on how widely and readily available naloxone is. Subsequently, we intend to work to maximize both the availability and the accessibility of naloxone, particularly to those who are most likely to be present where and when an opioid overdose takes place.

This post first appeared on the website of International Doctors for Healthier Drug Policies

This talk on Naloxone was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently at one of the TED Conferences. In 2011, fatal drug overdoses in the UK (3,338) exceeded the number of road accident deaths (1,960). These deaths are preventable. Jamie Bridge talks here about how rethinking both product design and service design have the potential to save lives in the administration of overdose medication. Naloxone was developed in the 1960s to counter the effects of heroin overdose. It’s a staple part of ambulance crew kits, but those who need it face barriers to the drug at the point at which it could save their lives. Recently, there has been a shift in focus and design to ensure that naloxone is available to those likeliest to witness an overdose – drug users, their families and friends. The evidence shows that naloxone works, and that drug users can be empowered to save the lives of their friends.

Jamie Bridge is a passionate advocate for drug services and drug policy reform in order to protect the rights, health and well-being of vulnerable people around the world.

* Naloxone is the generic term, it is also known by its brand name which is Narcan.

 

INPUD LAUNCHES FOUR NEW DOCUMENTS OF THE DRUG USER PEACE INITIATIVE

INPUD LAUNCHES FOUR NEW DOCUMENTS OF THE DRUG USER PEACE INITIATIVE.

What Will the Future Look Like for Drug Users?

Wow, great question huh? And one that Max Daly from VICE Magazine has just answered in its January 13th Edition.  I was really pleased to see an articulation of how I have been feeling about set ups like Silk Road and the Dark Web as well as the hype around NPS’s – New Psychoactive Substances, or research chemicals to you and me.

colouredbrain

I couldn’t help shake the feeling that many of these new research chemicals sound like (and feel like) a bad day in your drugged out teenage bedroom. Chemicals that are – well, just too chemically, with spiky, wired kind of edges, insomnia rather than stimulation, and a strange collection of side effects like twitches, memory loss, anxiety  or nausea or even seizures, arrhythmias, panic attacks and collapsing/black outs. You’re sensing the picture. You’ve probably had experience of the ‘almost’ drugs; ephedrine trying to be amphetamine,  (no good) pheniramine trying to pose as LSD (a trip for sure but…) The old school big sellers are out there as big sellers for a reason.They have risen above the throng.  Surely we would know by now if these new drugs were consistently more like diamonds than mud to experience? But I fear we do know, for the most part. Most of the newbies, 98% of them, aren’t really very pleasant. Now of course there has been fatalities, but what do we expect when we really dont know shit about where these chemicals are coming from, the lab conditions, the chemists making it up, let alone whats REALLY in a particular substance.

15 minutes of Fame, NPS Style

A look on YouTube into NPS /research chemicals/bath salts and overdoses, and you get our wonderful society out there filming their buddy’s or a strangers weird drug overdose. This was when I saw some very disturbing but similar overdose reactions of a type Id never seen before from any other drug. These weren’t seizures of any kind currently understood, they were some kind of altered state where the person (and their were many sharing the same kind of symptoms) was unable to master any lower limb movements -in other words their arms and legs were completely all over the place and they were often unable to walk at all. Not only that, but movement came from a kind of seal like or fish like, flapping, rolling, careering along the pavement. Vocal sounds became an awful guttural kind of noise or a choked up screaming. apparently something does actually happen to the vocal chords so the person cannot use it for normal communication. There has also been videos of police getting out taser and repeatedly, and I mean REPEATEDLY, tasering a person 2,3,4 even 5 times and the person is still able to excitedly respond or get up and still freak out etc. Body temperature supposedly heats up so clothes come off, which again gets all the home grown film makers out, filming another persons terrifying psychosis of some sort for all their workmates and neighbours to see.

 (Note: This is a very disturbing video (think Ill remove it afterwards) of what appears to be the kind of ‘bathsalts’ type of overdose -NOT Krokodil as the heading describes. There are many of chemicals possibly derived from the cathinones that seem to be responsible for some of these responses, in particular MDVP which may be the culprit. People often use way over the tiny dose that is advised of 5-10mg. There are quite a lot of youtube videos like this where people are having some kind of episode but all show strikingly similar side effects, side effects that I for one, in over 30 years on the scene, have never seen before. It isn’t to be hyped, but there is something weird and a bit scary about the effects of some of these unknown new chemicals) .

Click to KFX.org.uk, a really comprehensive website on all drugs but esp NPS, updated regularly.

Click to KFX.org.uk, a really comprehensive website on all drugs but esp NPS, updated regularly.

So yeah, its scary but, to go back to the future of drugs and the Vice article, it was good to hear someone agreeing that the NPS’s wont really take off, that they will remain a teenagers fallback, or for the person that has not yet properly developed real drug taste. That only the good old troopers will remain the most used and the quality will; just get better as more and more people use the Dark Web and networks like Silk Road 3, to really flesh out a safe place to buy quality drugs and, yes ok,  hellishly over inflated prices. But, if your anything like me and, dare I say, a drug connoisseur, you will be happy to pay an inflated fee if the drugs are going to be exactamundo – quality high, packaging clever, weight bang on. Here is a quote from the article:

” Yet the future will not be about the endless procession of legal highs. A smattering of new psychoactive substances (or NPS) will always be around, and to an extent always have been, but they have had their day in the sun. An interesting sideshow, they have served a purpose. Yes,mephedrone is here to stay and maybe 2C-B will hang around too, but now that the ecstasy and cocaine markets have righted themselves, with the purity of both drugs up considerably, the old school drugs are back. Clones of stimulants and other chemicals will still have an appeal to those who are skint, or are unable to get hold of decent drugs or who want to avoid getting caught out in piss tests, but the imminent clampdown on head shops will stifle supply to teenagers and the homeless – two of the keenest buyers of NPS products.

The online drug trade, however, will be blazing a trail into the next decade and beyond, whether the world’s police like it or not.”

Finally a Market to Dream About?

The Future of Drugs: Vice Magazine Issue 531: Written by Max Daly

The Future of Drugs: Vice Magazine Issue 531: Written by Max Daly

Max Daly then relays his meeting with Mike Power, author of what looks to be a great read, called Drugs 2.0: The Web Revolution That’s Changing How the World Gets High. Max asks him about how the online drug trade might fare over the next decade or two. “At the moment, the online trade in drugs is a minority sport, a good way of buying high quality drugs,” he told me. “Even now it’s tipping over from early adopters into the mainstream. It will get bigger, easier to use and more widespread. There will be more sites and more people using them because it is the perfect business model: anonymous, commission-based, peer-reviewed, postal drug dealing. Online dealing is not a replacement for trafficking cartels, it’s never going to work on that level, but if you’ve got a kilo of MDMA it’s the way to go.”  

I would actually add to that, having just a bit of this and that, it can still be a way to go. Sharing in a solid community where a forum is tightly connected to the site itself, so people regularly post about who they bought off and what it was like, along with who to avoid like the plague, all overseen by the sites moderator ensuring there is no bullshit being allowed to fester or take off, its really effective. It has a terrific potential for the future to be a real by the people for the people, kind of drug market, one where quality triumphs! What, what, no I’m not dreaming! This could slowly start to formulate around us. Oh sure I think people will continue to invent chemicals to take, although it does seem like they’ve already exhausted the best feeling drugs from a few main families of drugs: cathinones / phenethylamines, and amphetamines and are already on the dregs of these. Surely there has to be another surprise like a synthetic ‘opioid’ family to discover??

In the meantime, it could well be as VICE, and Max state. That NPS’s will die a slow death or remain in relatively low numbers as adults go old school and teens grow out of it, and bans catch up and overdoses get publicised. Mephedrone and a few relatives are here to stay of course, and although I think Spice and the synthetic cannabinoids are a bit creepy, even scary, that will always attract some who think it’s a cheap and easy cannabis alternative (just buy real pot and avoid the brain damage!).

goodies to buy. But there are no new vendors on SR2 these days, only old vendors from Silk Road are permitted to sell these days, seems it is safer that way...

All those goodies to buy! The old silk road online shop. It seems the FBI busts only served to force the dodgier online set ups out of business and tightened up safety protocols for the remainders.

I saw the wonderful JP Grund so a recent presentation on NPS’s at a conference in Amsterdam and he talked about the 3 D printer and that we will, one day in the near future, have drug recipes that are made for our genetic makeup and they will be sent to you with the computer programme and I presume the associated chemicals, that you administer to your 3D printer and it makes you your own, personal drug of choice. Now how nice could that be friends?

Read the full Vice article here Read the full post »

Another Drug Ban Alert

Friends, lookout, the Government has banned a few more psychoactives, take note, they are class A’s.

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2014 classifies:

  • the synthetic opioid AH-7921 as a Class A drug
  • the LSD-related compounds commonly known as ALD-52, AL-LAD, ETH-LAD, PRO-LAD and LSZ as Class A drugs,
  • the compounds captured by the extended definition of tryptamines, which now include compounds commonly known as AMT and 5-MeO-DALT, as Class A drugs.

The Misuse of Drugs (Designation) (Amendment) (No. 3) (England, Wales and Scotland) Order 2014 amends the Misuse of Drugs (Designation) Order 2001 to “designate” the synthetic opioid AH-7921, the LSD-related compounds and the compounds captured by the extended definition of tryptamines as controlled drugs to which section 7(4) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 applies, because they have no recognised medicinal or legitimate uses outside of research. This means that it is unlawful to possess, supply, produce, import or export these drugs except under a Home Office licence for research or “other special purpose”.

The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment No. 3) (England, Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2014 (“the 2014 Regulations”) amend the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 (“the 2001 Regulations”) to add the synthetic opioid AH-7921, the named LSD-related compounds and the compounds captured by the extended definition of tryptamines to Schedule 1. The 2014 Regulations also reschedules 4-Hydroxy-n-butyric acid (GHB) from Schedule 4 to Schedule 2 to the 2001 Regulations. GHB is not being reclassified.

The codes for recording drug offences relating to these substances by the police and the courts for statistical purposes within the Home Office Recorded Crime and Ministry of Justice Court Appearance Database (CAD) – which includes cautions – are set out in Annex A. – see link above for full details.

Does England Need a Drug User Union?

IDUD_2014Hi, I received a comment from Joe (hi Joe!) who said he was writing an aricle on why Britain needs a drug user union and could we help? Well, it happens to be good timing Joe, because it is a discussion on many peoples lips – how to unify and strength the voice of the drug user in the UK enabling it to become more effective addressing issues that routinely affect the lives of drug users. For England however, it is even more pertinent as we are currently adrift  in what might be a diverse and eclectic drug user movement, but it is one without a unified voice, or indeed a mechanism to sift and reflect back through the real concerns of the drug using community at large. So what do we do? Well, we can start by answering Joe’s question. Do we need a drug user union in the UK? (Note: this is pitched at a newcomers look into the drug user union movement so does not go in depth into some of the issues that are bubbling away for the movement).


Union2_Hi Joe,
We do need a drug user union in the UK, just like they do in many other parts of the world. Whilst a trade union’s primary role is to represent their members on employment issues, a drug user union has often emerged in a country to focus on issues affecting drug users in treatment. And just like a workers union would fight for better pay and working conditions, a drug users union focuses at least half of their energy on ensuring drug users in treatment get treated fairly, humanely, and equally – like anyone else who is a consumer of a health service.

union5Historically and no different from many other countries,  drug treatment in the UK has varied widely in its ability to reflect the needs of its client group and has often been modelled on extremely punitive, isolating and demoralising approaches to treating drug use. The most widely used approach has always been the ‘Carrot and Stick’ model, where users are rewarded with privileges for compliance. This often means permitting take home doses of methadone if users choose to ‘get with the programme’ and show it by presenting no positive urine samples. The Carrot.

The stick happens when users are punished punitively when they ‘fail’. This has varied from the inexplicable; a reduction in ones prescription (just when they are showing they perhaps need an increase) to the common; drink your methadone supervised -which can mean rather humiliatingly drinking it at the chemist in front of everybody (including your children’s friends parents). But anyone who fully understands drug dependence in all its complexity, will know that punishments make no hay when it comes to the decision, or the overwhelming need to use drugs. In fact punishments often simply isolate the person further and drive them deeper into their dependence/addiction. People become resentful, unable to confide in the people who are supposed to be supporting them, and simply lose the resources, the motivation and the knowledge about how to make the changes they wanted to when they started the programme.

Tunion3wenty years ago when ‘user involvement started in the UK, we were coming out of the dark ages in terms of drug treatment. Today, with a high degree of user involvement around the country, things have been much better for the average drug user in treatment. But success in the UK has been patchy to say the least, and todays political ideology that directs the funding wand has caused not only cut backs in drug treatment but has created a whole series of new problems, problems which are ripe for a drug user union to tackle.

The UK needs independent union/s for drug users simply because they must have an independent voice in their treatment which affects, like a work union1or a trade union, a huge part of ones daily life. Much of todays user involvement is now suffering from the left turn it took many years ago to follow the money (and sometimes the support as well, both are understandable to some degree) and get into bed with the same health authorities they needed to have clear heads about. This has not only influenced some of the decisions such groups have made, sometimes at the expense of their communities, but has now left them defenseless to big budget cuts in the health service, money which is no longer ring-fenced to protect drug treatment. Drug User Groups that have spent years working, often for no pay, sometimes doing or supporting much of the work of professionals, have, at the stroke of a pen, been vanquished. Thanks for all the work mate, but seeya later.

Perhaps if we had set up as unions, even to the extent where users who wanted to join could pay their dues with the knowledge that they were getting something for their money; positive change, we would have a strong lead and vision for the way we want drug treatment to go in this country, a direction which is centred around the needs of the client, not the government, and not the key-worker or consultant. The client who is, after all supporting a massive industry of jobs, careers and reputations.

But drug user unions have a much bigger part to play in civil society. Unions can offer educational, lifelong learning and training opportunities to their members, just like real unions.

But drug user unions have a much bigger part to play in civil society. Unions can offer educational, lifelong learning and training opportunities to their members, just like real unions. Historically, unions have not only negotiated for and championed better workplace rights with employers but for a better deal for working people in the wider world. Having battled to extend the right to vote, it was the unions that created a political party that working people could vote for – the Labour Party. It is perfectly possible, as is reflected in perhaps one of the world’s most brilliant Drug User Unions, The Swedish User Union, for drug users to become directly influential in a country’s national politics; becoming to Go To organisation on drug related issues: Nothing About Us Without Us – the slogan for the drug user movement.

union4So yes, the collected strength and political ability of the English user movement is perhaps at a bit of a crossroads, or on a cliff edge, or even a sinking boat. It has only to look to its brethren in Scotland and Ireland (north and south) to see shining examples of cohesive and effective partnership working and union values, forging better and more humane drug policies in various sectors like health, criminal justice, treatment etc. But the space is empty for a unified user voice in England, the seat is up, the pantry littered with almosts and nearlies. Yet the values of a drug user union are urgently needed today. For those drug users still struggling with substandard or punitive treatment, poor engagement opportunities, or one size fits all care, it is just as much-needed for the society we live in, the drug policies that desperately need our thoughts, creativity and input, the solutions to community drug issues that only we as drug users can really pinpoint and tackle effectively. But that’s not all. What about unions at work?

All the unpaid hours we do to better our communities as harm reduction and recovery workers, all the glass ceilings we encounter despite our enormous skill and ability. Indeed Canada has recently ensured its harm reduction workers have been able to come together under a union banner as the Harm Reduction Workers Union, a really marvellous idea that is also primed as a template for other countries to adopt. And while history tells us that England, indeed Britain, has always been a rather tribal country, with tribal interests and cultures that still affect the way shires and counties do things, it will be basic union values that are able to touch a common core through all that diversity, and hopefully, bring us home to a unified drug user movement. A movement that is solid and secure with our UK brethren, allied in defence of ever more humane drug policies for our societies. And a vision of innovative and responsive drug treatment that is driven forward by equally by ex/current drug users and a diverse orchestra of dedicated others forever fine tuning our treatment and information response. All leading our communities down the right road ahead, across the changing landscape of drug using Britain today. Erin O’Mara

World First! – Harm Reduction Worker’s Union Takes off in Toronto

Harm Reduction Workers Union Takes Off in Toronto

OMG! I just LOVE  these Canadian drug users! 

 

NEWS: TORONTO HARM REDUCTION WORKER’S UNION

(THRWU) – A World’s First!

12 NOVEMBER 2014

Black Poppy and INPUD, are more than pleased to report on THRWU,  the world’s first ever harm reduction workers’ union which went public on 11 November 2014.  Members of INPUD have been involved in this campaign, with a major shout out going to Torontonian Raffi Balian – (a long time friend of both Black Poppy and member of INPUD since its beginnings).  Raffi has been a serious mover and shaker on the East Side of Canada for about 20 years now, setting up CounterFIT, which has consistently  brought us all innovative, user led and drug user centric projects while inspiring people from all over the world that there is a time to stop thinking and just do it! So it was no surprise to see Raffi,  (the guy kneeling down with the green jacket on the left in the  picture below) at it again, enthusing, organising, promoting and supporting his fellow junkies, workers, and of course the community.

Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Union -What are you waiting for -give your local union leader a call and start talking!

Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Union -What are you waiting for -give your local union leader  (IWW) a call and start talking!

The Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Union  is a city-wide organization, representing over 50 employed, unemployed, and student workers. At the launch workers at two of the city’s largest harm reduction programs went public with their affiliation to the Union which is a part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The IWW is a fighting union for all workers that organizes workers regardless of skill or trade and it is member (not staff) run, with a long history of fighting for the most oppressed and marginalized workers in society

The majority of these workers have been hired for their lived experience of using drugs, incarceration and homelessness and are continuing to organize with the goal of unionizing all of the city’s harm reduction workers.

THRWU speak about the need to organise around many of the issues affecting the industry – of which many harm reduction workers who come from a drug using background, will know a lot about. THRWU point to some of the main areas on their website:

  • Discrepancies in wages, with workers doing similar work taking home vastly different pay.
  • People work for years without raises, and have limited to no access to benefits, vacation and sick days.
  • Management depends on social assistance to provide the basic benefits that workers need (such as emergency dental and drug benefits). This is especially detrimental for those of us hired because we live with HIV and/or Hep C, or use opiode substitution therapy.
  • Workers are discriminated against based on the lived experience they are hired for.
  • Many positions are extremely precarious, with grants and funding threatened by conservative and anti-science ideology, and austerity budgets that endanger public health.

These are very real issues affecting the daily lives of people who’s work is not just a job, but a ’cause’,  a life, based on their lived experience and a way to put their heart and soul back into their communities, funneling years and years of privileged insight into their work, which has gone such a long way towards stemming the HIV epidemic in the drug injecting community. And damn right they deserve paid work or a raise along with everyone else! Damn right their should be the chance of promotion from volunteer to worker, to team leader to manager. Let’s all be clear here, harm reduction would not work saving the lives it does, reducing the harm it does, stemming the tide of infectious diseases that it does, without the world’s harm reduction workers and many of these are our peers. People who use drugs, used drugs, are on prescriptions etc.  The majority of work is unsung, underpaid and under acknowledged for the real impact it has on the community.

So who are we talking about exactly? Well, let’s let THRWU speak for themselves!

We are the workers that make harm reduction work.  We are the kit makers, outreach workers, community workers, and coordinators that reduce the harms associated with bad drug laws, poverty and capitalism.  As working class people, our communities have been hard hit by the War on Drugs, the epidemics of HIV, Hepatitis C and overdose deaths. We are organizing to better our working conditions and improve the services we provide. And we are organizing to fight for a society free of oppression and injustice.”

Below is THRWU’s mandate and definition of harm reduction:

“THRWU is an organization of Harm Reduction Workers who are united together in solidarity, to improve our working conditions and to strengthen equality in the workplace for the betterment of the workers and those who access the services. We are a union of employed and unemployed workers committed to harm reduction with a range of skills, education and lived experience. We have come together in our common concerns to form a non-hierarchical democratic labour union with a commitment to mutual aid, social justice and the principles of harm reduction.”

“Harm reduction is an evidence-based and practical approach to dealing with the harms associated with drug use…Harm reduction also aims to respond to harm experienced on a structural or societal level (such as stigma, discrimination and criminalization). This work should be grounded in the values of respect, non-judgment, and in the promotion of self-determination and self-empowerment for folks involved!

We recognize that many healthcare and social service providers endorse a ‘harm reduction framework’ in name only. Our union will prioritize those workers who are actively engaged in harm reduction work, as defined above!”

INPUD, the International Network of People who use Drugs are positive about the future as more drug users self organise. In a statement of support INPUD said, “In the context of the War on Drugs, in which our fellow workers are the casualties, an organizing campaign of this nature is exciting. The THRWU is setting itself up to be a powerful voice for harm reduction workers in the workplaces as well as in broader political struggles”. Last word to THRWU: “We need to organize ourselves to demand an improvement in wages and in workplace conditions. We love the work we do but we also know we need to be treated more equitably. There are many of us working in harm reduction and we can work in solidarity with each other to improve this.”

Boy oh boy, lets wish them luck with their new unionised labour force and their further organizing efforts!

How do I organize a Harm Reduction Workers Union in my city?

If you are interested in building a Harm Reduction Workers Union in your city, get in touch! thrwunion@gmail.com

For more information don’t miss visiting their website www.thrwu.org or by email  and  – if you are in Toronto – JOIN UP!!

Check out more of their news and events on their FaceBook page herehttps://www.facebook.com/thrwu

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RELEASE gives us some much needed clarity interpreting the recent UK governments report on drugs

Head of legal services at Release Kirstie Douse explains the state of illicit drug taking in the UK on Sky News Tonight and does a great job. Nice one Kirstie – RELEASE does it again – clear, concise, succinct, evidence based. We have to give praise and thanks to Niamh Eastwood who is the current boss woman at RELEASE and has brought the organisation on in leaps and bounds. BP attended RELEASE  several times over the last month and has been blown away by the exceptional work, the terrific working relationships, the respect RELEASE continues to engender across not just the UK but the world, and our own gary sutton, who still heads up RELEASE’S  excellent drugs helpline – possibly one of the last bastions in the UK where, drugs, law and human rights intersect directly across the lives and futures of people who use drugs. Thanks to all the team at RELEASE for some really exceptional work. Thank God you are on our side! If you can – please don’t forget to donate to RELEASE – I can tell you they work extremely hard for the issues that affect the drug using community and have done so since 1968 – possibly one of the longest running drug law and human rights charity’s in the world.

NOTE: If you have been busted for drugs – and you think that the statements the police are giving/guiding the jury with are incorrect – that your ounce of grass is indeed for personal use not for sale, that your new car was bought from your own money not drug money, that the 8 ball of crack and few bags of heroin is for your own personal habit and is not a sign of you being some drug king pin or runner for the ‘man’ – get your lawyer to ring RELEASE and ask for their very experienced ‘Drug Expert Witness’ to analyse the police reports and give the jury and judge an honest, considered and extremely experienced look at what the evidence really means. It could be the difference between being locked up for years  or going home to your kids after court.

Don’t forget – call the RELEASE drugs helpline if you are having any issues, questions or problems with drug use, drug treatment, drug testing -regarding yourself or a loved one. BP’s Erin O’Mara is currently volunteering there every Thursday.

A video for every bloke to have a look at -through the eyes of a woman

As a woman, it is always just part of your life; of course the younger you are the more regular the occurrences; sexual equality? where is it? Man oh man have we got a long way to go before women can simply walk down the street without being harassed, made to feel embarrassed, humiliated; women have to turn off their chance to maybe meet a nice person because they have grown up to be paranoid about what male attention in the street really means. And in bars, clubs, train stations, shops etc. For all the men who continue to do it -it means women are going to feel less and less like having any interaction with a stranger on the street at all; and, after this video, can you really blame her?

Published on 28 Oct 2014

Donate to Hollaback! https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/…
Creator/Director/Producer: Rob Bliss Creative- A Viral Video Agency – http://robblisscreative.com/
Business/Media Contact: rob@robblisscreative.com

November 1st: International Drug Users Day

International Drug Users Day - Poster Available in several languages! Get Yours and Celebrate Nov 1st!
International Drug Users Day – Poster Available in several languages! Get Yours and Celebrate Nov 1st!

1 NOVEMBER 2014

‘Community. Solidarity. Empowerment.’ 

International Drug Users’ Day is the one day of the year where people who use drugs can celebrate the strength and diversity of our community, our solidarity and our empowerment.

To mark this day, INPUD is launching a statement, which asserts that to end the ‘war on drugs’, we must move away from the ideas that drive prohibition and criminalisation. We are calling for an end to the ‘war on drugs’ on the terms of people who use drugs. And we are affirming and celebrating who we are as a community of people who use drugs.

INPUD Statement
International Drug Users’ Day 2014 – 1st November
‘Community. Solidarity. Empowerment.’

The harms of stigma, discrimination and the ‘war on drugs’
The world over, people who use drugs are demonised and stereotyped. People who use drugs are stigmatised as being sick and dangerous, and are vilified, infantilised, and patronised as being unable to take care of themselves or their loved ones. Stigmatising people who use drugs follows through into discrimination and social exclusion, and has corresponding impacts on health and wellbeing. Stigma and stereotypes are what justify the so-called ‘war on drugs’, which in turn drives gross violations of the human rights of people who use drugs, violations that go, for the most part, unchallenged.

And violations of the human rights of people who use drugs are all too common. People who use drugs are detained and imprisoned. People who use drugs are incarcerated without due legal process in forced labour camps. People who use drugs are subject to torture and execution. People who use drugs are denied access to healthcare, service provision, and harm reduction. People who use drugs are harassed and assaulted by the police. The ‘war on drugs’, a war that drives these violations of the rights of people who use drugs, has been an abject failure (even by its own misguided objectives): it has failed to reduce drug use, and it has caused enormous harm to the lives of people who use drugs and the communities in which they live.

An end to the war on drugs on our terms
The war on drugs must end. But it must end on the terms of people who use drugs. Last International Drug Users’ Day, we asserted the right of consenting adults to use the drugs they choose, whether it be for pleasure, to self-medicate, to enhance performance, to alter consciousness, or to provide some succour and relief from hard lives. We defended the right of adults to use their drugs of choice in their homes without causing harm or nuisance to others, and to carry them in public without fear of police harassment, abuse, and intimidation.

This 2014 International Drug Users’ Day, we assert that to end the war on drugs – the war on people who use drugs – we must move away from the ideas that drive prohibition and criminalisation: we must challenge and reject stigma and drug-userphobia in all of its forms. We reject infantilising, patronising, and demonising preconceptions. We reject blanket pathologisation of people who use drugs, reject the assumption that to use drugs is to be sick or dangerous or immoral. It is time to discard cruel, pejorative, and discriminatory language and labels. It is time, once and for all, to reject crude generalisations and stereotypes of people who use drugs, and to acknowledge the variability and diversity of our community.

And so, on this International Drug Users’ Day, we celebrate and emphasise the diversity and strength of our community. The world over, vast numbers of people from every section of society use illicit drugs. They use drugs for different reasons, in different ways, in different contexts. Though we are too often silenced and side-lined in debate and in the formation of policy and legislation that applies to us, we assert our diversity and our ability and right to exercise self-determination and agency. We demand the right to be respected as experts on our own lives, motivations, and experiences. We will not stand by silently whilst decisions are made about us and not with us. In reasserting ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’, we refer to the inclusion of our diverse community as a whole.

We, the International Network of People who Use Drugs, will fight to defend our human rights, to promote our health, and will fight to end the war on drugs and prohibition together and in solidarity. We recognise the struggles of our peers as our own, in the face of crosscutting stigmatisation, social exclusion, discrimination, silencing, and criminalisation. In 2014, we celebrate the strength of our community, our solidarity and our empowerment.


Resources: Click here for your own poster in different languages plus the statement.

International Drug User Day, Nov 1st, 2014

International Drug User Day 2014 – Let’s hear 3 cheers for that activists

activist -Theo Van Dam, the beautiful Dutchman who came up with the

brilliant idea of a day in the calendar to celebrate the existence, the

achievements, the lives and the work of people who use drugs and their

brave and courageous direct actions that have been challenging wrongs

and fighting injustice, wherever it lies in the world.

Drug User’s must always be part of the solution and never framed only as the problem. Our  lived, perceptive and insightful lives will always provide our communities with the insight and language to tackle the issues that black markets have left us; society must work with the drug using community to end the crippling discrimination, criminalization, marginalization and isolation felt by too many – generation to generation; and for what? So some could drink beer while others could not smoke dope? So some could arrest an entire  people of colour while others could put on the guards hat and boots while swinging the keys in the lock, stops the clock….IDUD is our day friends -walk tall, believe in yourself not based on your drug or the frequency you use it, but based on the person you really are deep down. Drug users will not be defined by their substance or by societys ignorance; only by the quality of their soul at the gates. Yessirree! November 1st – celebrate it all day friends!

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