International Remembrance Day, 21st July -For those who have died from the War on Drugs – which is a war on people!


This is a speech spoken at a Remembrance Day event in London yesterday. It gives a personal point of view looking at how the War on Drugs -which is a war on people in every part of the world that has been happening for almost 100 years! Here is just one persons story of being inside this insane maelstrom.

My Name is Anna

My name is Anna and I call myself a drug user activist.

I have been a drug injector for over 30 years and a drug user activist for more than half of that.

In that time – like many of us here today – I have seen a lot of things….

And, like many of us here – I have also had some extraordinary relationships, encounters and random chances with many, many people who used drugs.

People who, for the most part – were not dodgy or crazy – well maybe just a little –

Who were not dirty,  lying or cheating horrible people –

But mostly passionate, caring, sensitive and generous people. People who – yes they may have been pushed to the brink –marginalised and isolated by a society that had to criminalise before it cared – judged before it understood; people who should have received better protection from our drug policies – rather than annihilation…..

People who I have loved and cared about, like we all have –and this is why we are here on this very important day today.

As a drug user activist for many years now I have given speeches and presentations at lots of places all over the country –and while every presentation is different – but this one is special.

It is special because this is the one time I can honestly truly stand up and say – loud and proud – how grateful and how fortunate I am to have made friendships with some of the best people in the world – other drug users – fuck – other junkies! – wonderful, courageous people who have often battled huge odds to still be here – today – and many who are literally here today and in this audience.

People who have found each other, often initially through their enjoyment or pain, their that sharing of an illegal substance. You might say prohibition has brought many of us together.

But prohibition has also meant that –many of these very same people – these special, wild and crazy characters – are NOT here today.

Because they are DEAD. Those people –and we all knew someone – who died directly because our insane drug policies continue to make the same mistakes over and over again – day in and day out –while people like I have just mentioned – die!

Think about this: every minute of every day –someones brother or sister is crying out for methadone but cant get it because (like in Russia) they have an idea that it should be kept illegal to stop drug users indulging themselves.

That someones father is being bundled up in a rug in Guatemala and kidnapped by a quazy religious cult who have financially fleeced the relatives by selling a story that incarceration in a blacked out house – against a persons will is the only way to save someone from drugs.

And that – in the filipines a childs mother and father have been shot dead in the street by a vigilante public who cheer the bandits on and tie big signs round their dead necks calling them pushers.

While here in London someones best buddy overdoses alone in a half way hostel because they are using benzos on top of the shitty blackmarket heroin that available in an effort to drown out the misery of life criminalized after yet another prison sentence.

Prohibition is killing our community – over and over, to quickly to count the numbers –only through days like this do we have an opportunity to really reflect on who these policies are really affecting –in real time.

The anger is real – no doubt about that – it is why I became a drug user activist. But I just want to quickly tell you –being an angry activist didn’t happen overnight. It was an accumulation of several lightbulb moments that happened to me – that made me realise – OMG – I do not deserve shit treatment from people and services just because I use drugs and supposedly broke a few rules.

I used to think – well, what could I expect if I did the wrong thing. Jeezus, surely I couldn’t expect to be treated well? I was in the wrong, after all. I didn’t see then that societys label of junkie –and all its connotations – ran so deeply in people – that I was being judged and sentenced by their ignorance.

Ignorance that could literally put my life at risk.

Ill just tell you very quickly about 2 of those litebulb moments:

The first one happened after I had just been diagnosed HIV positive –it was in 1995 and things were different back then –but stigma is stigma and it is still rife today as we know –no matter what its shade or location.

So, 1995, and it was 6 weeks after I had been diagnosed –my first dr appoint. And I went with to this dr appoint –in fact I went with my mum –and I was met by a female dr who proceeded to  hammer me, in the most humiliating way, with a series of 100 questions about my drug use, whether I was sharing needles, did I have anal sex –all delivered with the most accusatory tone I was stunned into virtual silence! My mum –after she picked herself and me – metaphorically -off the floor –said ‘excuse me – I don’t appreciate you speaking to my daughter in that way’; and later, after we left and went for coffee, I realized –what she in fact was brimming with –was a judgement: I was guilty, I was a junky, I had brought this on myself. I was the non deserving.

And I realized in a flash: OMG – I had gone to this dr as an open book – as vulnerable as one can be – we both were – I felt like my life was in her hands –and that she didn’t want it. I wasn’t like everyone else – I really was ‘the other’ and this could literally affect my life now.

It was a lightbulb moment.

Later when a friend and I were bemoaning the fact that there were no drug users speaking on world aids day, considering how we had seen its impact on the injecting community; my friend Andrea, had just been telling me about her husband who had just died of aids. How incredibly courageous he was (in fact John mordant was one of several drug user activists in the world who formed the first front line of user activism back in early 1990s.- also started Mainliners) And that it really felt like there was nowhere for people like him to be welcomed, understood, appreciated –like there was for gay men at the time.

She said to me pointedly “ Because we have heroes too”.

And tears started to well up in my eyes because all of a sudden I thought about all the wonderful people I knew, some of whom were now dead –who never got the appreciation, the respect, the support even the funeral they should have got – just because they used an illegal substance.

But as I said – drug user activism helps me to channel my anger, and has helped me to fight back in constructive ways rather than remaining in a self destructive spiral of guilt, confusion, thwarted ambition, rage.

And days like today are an inspiration – to see all the wonderful people I deeply respect here today –and to celebrate the lives of those who –tragically – and for which there really are no words – are not here today –

Thank you all for coming today to remember those who lived life on the edge –in ways we all sometimes dream about doing but don’t dare –

We will keep remembering them all.

Dedicated to Raffi Ballian – a Canadian masterclass of an activist who died of an overdose this year.

Living the great ‘Edinburgh AIDS panic’ of ’85.

Part 2 of David Graham Scott’s harrowing portrayal of

a junkie’s life on the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland’s

capital city and in 1985, known as the ‘AIDS CAPITAL OF

EUROPE’.

Written by David Graham Scott   (pic above – back in the day…)

(part one is the blog below this)

The only reason people went to ‘The City Hospital for Infectious Diseases’ was essentially for their methadone and free needles which at the time were very hard to come by. It was the carrot they dangled in front of us in order to encourage all the city’s junkies to attend, and thereby get tested for HIV/AIDS.

 

So data could get collected, clumsy attempts at healthcare would be given to all those with a positive result, and then we would all leave clutching leaflets about safer injecting together with possibly the first needle and syringe packs in Scotland.

This methadone and HIV testing clinic was really isolated from the main hub of Edinburgh city and was surrounded by vast woodlands.

1985; David in Edinburgh, in the flat arond the corner from the cop shop.

To get there we would have to board a public bus that took us towards the hospital which we shared with housewives heading back to their genteel homes in the wealthy southern suburbs of Edinburgh.  Each time they disembarked they would glance back at those of us left on the bus; the dregs of humanity, and everyone knew exactly where we were going; The Infectious Diseases Clinic at The City Hospital.

As the bus drove us further down the narrow meandering roads towards the clinic itself, it only seemed to  exacerbate our sense of alienation and fear, heading towards ‘that clinic’.

The Fear

There was an incredibly deep climate of fear at this time which is hard to fully explain today. It was 1985, the height of the HIV/AIDS ‘panic’.  People may remember the time, and God knows we all remember it was confusing and frightening enough, but actually  living within it, being terrorised by the label AIDS JUNKIE in your own community, there really are few words to describe what living through that time was like.

There were two ostracised communities (gay men and IV drug users) and sadly in those days neither group managed to find common ground with the other, such was the fear , ignorance and stigma from all those involved. People stuck tightly to what they knew.

A Slow Death by Newsnight

1985: Edinburgh

By early 1986, my girlfriend and I were asked if we wanted to appear on Newsnight to talk about being an injecting drug user in Edinburgh. Newsnight is the well respected current affairs programme which was (and still is) broadcast across the UK. The journalists involved offered us money, a paltry (but useful) £50 each to basically sell our souls to the ignorant masses. To be fair, the money wasn’t the reason we did it, it merely sealed the deal, both of us being broke and on heroin.

Naturally, we got totally stitched up. They edited the show to make us look irresponsible as they could. The idea was not to expose our status either way, but just to talk about the reality of life for drug users confronting the spectre of HIV/AIDS in Edinburgh.

However, the whole thing rapidly turned into a nightmare that had immense repercussions for us for months and years to come.

My girlfriend’s ex boyfriend was also appearing on the show, claiming to be the man who brought ‘AIDS’ to Scotland from Canada. He had kind of given up on himself I think, and although a very talented guitarist and session musician known by many major bands of the time, I think he ultimately felt jealous and lonely. It felt like his exposure on Newsnight was designed to draw my girlfriend and I into his own private hell. He knew he was dying…

We thought we were just trying to explain to viewers what was going on in Edinburgh among drug users, however pointed questioning from the journalist, who, looked from their body language to be quite fearful and disgusted by these three Scottish junkies sitting before them, soon had us saying things we didn’t set out to say.

True to the Style of Jeremy Kyle…*

My girlfriend soon began to respond to her ex boyfriend’s issues  goaded by the journalist, which meant she began feeling the need to explain her own positive status, something neither of us anticipated. I was negative but it didn’t matter. We had ‘AIDS by default’ of being junkies.

Today, I am a documentary filmmaker and as such, as I sit here and reflect back as I have done many times over the years, I know we were manipulated in an irresponsible, careless and insidious manner. Christ we were only 20 and 22 years old!

As for repercussions, they were horrific. We were both abused and spat at in the street regularly. The local police always gave us a hard time and because we lived around the corner from the local police station, regularly we would get a battering ram smashing through our door and our flat turned upside down for no reason. We were on prescription methadone and they never found anything. It was shameful.

David: Outside the doctors surgery, 1987, Edinburgh

David: Outside the doctors surgery, 1987, Edinburgh

Shameful!

 

It was a different era. We were vilified by the public. Even though I didn’t have HIV, I was positive just by association. When I went back to my family’s home in the highlands I was quickly approached by the local environmental health officer and rudely advised not to have sex with any women in town and it would be a good idea if I left town as soon as possible.

Even years later I was arrested on a trumped up charge when i returned home again, kept in jail overnight and later told that the cell was literally fumigated after I left. Completely unbelievable.

I haven’t put in to this story some of the worst things that happened to us because it is just to difficult to talk about and I don’t want to drag things up especially for my ex girlfriend who is happily still well and is really getting on with her life.

I think now in my life as a documentary film maker I continue to try and write the wrongs of that kind of shoddy, sensationalist journalism by trying to be as sensitive as I can and letting the person feel comfortable enough to talk freely but never to feel that false sense of security that people can do when they let their guard down. It is a big responsibility and I know personally how it feels to be completely exploited and to suffer the repercussions when one goes back into their community.

It was a terrible time for so many of us back then. So many deaths, so much fear, so much gossip,  people drowning others to save themselves, all pressured by an insane media appetite for sensationalist stories that just ruined people’s lives and spread fear and hate like poison. We cannot forget these days. We can never forget these days. We must all do whatever we can to stop the kind of scapegoating society is so apt to do when it is frightened by some unknown quantity. At the end of each day, it is always about people’s lives.

DGS

David today winning an award for Iboga Nights, his powerful film following people struggling to get off heroin using the iboga root.

Iboga Nights trailer from John Archer on Vimeo.

 

Dying to be Heard

This all brings me back to one of the best guys we could have on our side as a community (or not even!) of people who use drugs. Theo Van Dam, once a strident, unflinching, innovative, brilliant user activist in Amsterdam (a real honest to God fore-runner of the whole user movement) -who now, at late 50’s/early 60’s or so, has put aside his fighting talk, his incredible persuasive manner who could sell an ice to an Inuit (as they say!) has re-invented himself and naturally as a humans evolution, he now speaks at funerals and remembrance days.

Not Theo's quote but an interesting comment on how funerals are changing;click on pick to hear about a womans take of different funeral styles

Not Theo’s quote but an interesting comment on how funerals are changing; click on pick to hear about a womans take of different funeral styles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He stands with the family and friends and says all the powerful, and beautiful words of remembrance that no one else dares to say. He acknowledges their place in the community, even if the community was ‘one of the guys on that park bench, you know, the one with his ol’ dog close at his side and his little woven bag that doubled as a pillow yet held everything in the world that was necessary and loved. Theo would talk about the whole person -the time this or that happened, talk warmly about the generous, kind, stubborn yet loyal person that would always have time for a chat for anyone who passed by the park bench. It didn’t even matter whether Theo knew the person lying prostrate in front of everyone -or not. Whether he admired and adored them, or wasn’t on very cool terms with them at the time they died. It was OK. Theo was there to ensure the person themselves -their life -with all its ups and downs -were captured and celebrated, not brushed under the carpet and hidden so everyone felt to uncomfortable to even mention what the person had been doing the last 30 years. Even more so – allowing the parents to hear that their child was a real person -who loved, lost, laughed and fought -like all of us -and that their drug/alcohol use should/must be accepted as part of their life, their journey, their experience. It contributed to who they are. It cannot be denied – or you deny your child/sibling/friend – and those who cared for him that lived in the same world.

We all need a Theo at our funerals, a celebrant to shine a touching light on our friends, ensuring they are laid to rest with everyone knowing the person -not the myth, not the stereotype, not the’failure or tragic child led astray. We are the summary of our experiences – all of our experiences – the good, the bad, the ugly.

Some days, Theo didn’t need to know who lay there in the coffin. The idea had been to simply turn up (he is now always invited!) and if he felt that heavy, asphyxiating silence fall, like heavy clouds of snowflakes on the shoulders of the family and friends, and the gentle but nervous shuffling of the priest’s ceremonial slippers as he looked around for someone to stand tall and proud and say a heartfelt speech about their loved one, talk briefly about their huge, momentous loss, and wait for the niece or uncle to read out a piece from the deceased favourite novel or poem…well, it sounds comforting doesnt it? But the person in the coffin has been living on the street for almost a decade. Their toes needed operating on to stop them rotting and re-infecting the next one. There parents hadnt seen them for 15 years…they wanted to cover over their fears…

dont let your loved one be constrained by legal and societal judgments even in death

dont let your loved one be constrained by legal and societal judgments even in death

The reality was that no-one at that funeral knew who the person in the coffin was anymore. Close buddies hadn’t been invited, Christ -they were all alcoholics and junkies! The parents expected it would be a disaster. No, they must be buried quickly, happy memories of the childhood rehashed, and everyone would just smudge out the last 20 years. It was a wasted time anyway, those years, they ruined their life, wasted chances, threw offers of help back in the families faces. God, they hadn’t even tried to pay back any of that money nice auntie Kay gave to them to get a deposit on bedsit. No, his homeless friends were not invited -some of them were with him when he died. ‘Imagine that’ the relatives think. ‘They are so wasted and hopeless, they can’t even tell one of their ‘friends’ are dying -they said he was just snoring…No, the funerals of  many thousands and thousands of us have been like this. It needs to change now.

So many families hadnt really known their loved one for  years. They hadn’t invited them to a family function for over 15 years -no birthdays, no christmas, no easter, no new year….it could have been embarrassing after all. Even if someone had been bold enough to invite them,  would they have gone? Would the feel comfortable, welcome, relaxed???What would they wear? What would they say they had been doing ‘lately’? How does one cope with the stares, the feelings of fear, of children’s wide eyed staring from behind mums skirt;

No, most funerals of people who died from drugs are strained…But strained for different reasons. Not from holding back waves of pain and loss! Or rather, pain and loss that is secret. Dark and lonely. shameful. Words that lie stuck deep down in the throat, words of love and caring locked inside a black box of shame and confusion. Of crippling pain, pain that will never fully ease for the parents and loved ones because they know  they judged their loved one in life when they didn’t really understand anymore. It weighs heavily forever. The funeral Theo encourages, provides a chance for everyone to relax and share and celebrate a human beings life – all those they loved, things they shared, families they were a part of, tragedies they fought through, those special and raare qualities they had.

We alll need a Theo.

Remember that on International Remembrance Day July 21st, or any day a drug using friend dies. Dont let their lives be erased in ignorance. Celebrate the whole life, and bring everyone peace.

If you want to reach Theo in Amsterdam to talk to him further about his ideas etc, add comment and we will forward them to him immediately.

Travis Jenkins Award 2008; Thanking Theo

As the lights dimmed in the auditorium and, for the last time this year the spotlight zeroed in on the podium speaker, a tall lanky Dutchman in a sharp black suit made his way up the stage steps to collect a few dues.After 2 decades of innovative and inspirational work within the drug using community, Theo Van Dam smiled broadly as he accepted the 2008 Travis Jenkin’s award from IHRA on the final day of their popular international conference. An award presented to current or former drug users who have made an outstanding contribution to reducing drug related harm, this year Theo was publicly acknowledged by a distinguished international cohort of colleagues, peers and admirers.He wasn’t the only one smiling. As this greatly admired and respected Dutchman sprung up the steps of the IHRA stage to collect his award, I felt myself grinning from ear to ear. It was a great moment – a chance to acknowledge a lifetime of workfrom one of the most well known and respected drug user activists of our times.

Theo has been at the forefront of the fight for the health, welfare and rights of drug users, from within his home in the Netherlandsand internationally. His creative and freethinking approach, his willingness and commitment, his humour – all coupled with his highly principled nature has made him one of the most inspirational and active Drug User Activists in the world.

Throughout the 90’s Theo fought hard to put harm reduction not just on the political agenda, but inside the minds of the using community. His direct approach was unique and he was as up front about how he delivered harm reduction to Dutch users and dealers, as he was to government officials and drug workers.

To try and write succinctly on Theo’s unique contribution to harm reduction leaves me hampered. I’m not sure of the finer details or of the dates of his projects and work.

I do know however, that as a young activist at the IHRA conference in Geneva (in 98/9?) hearing of the work Theo was doing amongst the using community left me feeling anything was possible. His idea behind starting International Drug User Day on November 1st was inspired and the 1st ever international gathering in Amsterdam in 2002? is still talked about today. The IDUD in now an international event, where drug users all over the world unite to protest, lobby, debate and discuss ways to reduce drug related harm, throw off the shackles of stereotyping and discrimination, push forward for effective peer and societal education about drugs, drug use and drug users and save lives.

Theo Van Dam came with the first wave of true international user activism, his experience is valuable, his commitment and belief in his work, is total. This year, the harm reduction world acknowledged and, most importantly thanked Theo Van Dam for his efforts, and I, still an activist he still inspires, thank him wholeheartedly too.

Thanks Theo. xx

 

Confessions of the first modern drug taker

Thomas de Quincey, after the publication of his book ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’  in 1821 emerged as, it is said, as the first modern drug taker of our times, but was he really? In an era when opium was consumed for everything from the mildest cough to childbirth was De Quincey’s literary confession of opium more about historical timing and familiar titillation of the middle classes, rather than any expose of a new or intrepid drug enthusiast?

De Quincey loudly declared himself the ‘only member’ of ‘the true church on the subject of opium’ and, as if to embrace the challenge,  insisted that The English Opium Eater,  was not the same as any other opium pursuant, but rather was of a superior type: ‘I question whether any Turk, of all that ever entered the Paradise of opium-eaters, can have had half the pleasure I had’.

Drug historian Mike Jay, in his excellent article on the subject called ‘The Pope of Opium‘  adds “Although De Quincey did eat his dose on occasions, sometimes carrying a snuff-box of small opium pills, he typically (like most English people) drank it; Interestingly Jay surmises “by identifying himself as an opium-eater, he was entwining something like our modern sense of ‘recreational user’ with the sneer of a cultural outlaw, appropriating a foreign habit and deliberately courting the reader’s disapproval, even disgust“.

A friend directed me to Mike Jays piece on De Quincey’s Confessions and I found it so interesting I had to relay it here -and just for an extra buzz I have added a few bits from the classic movie ‘ Confessions of an English Opium Eater’ with Vincent Price, sure to give you a smile.

Mike Jay tells us that De Quincey now survives as the first modern drug enthusiast, through “not so much breaking a taboo as deliberately creating one by recasting a familiar practice as transgressive and culturally threatening. It was a Byronic double game: baiting the moralists and middlebrow public opinion while delighting the elite with the invention of a new vice”.

De Quincey knew he was “in the crowd but not of it”, and appealing mix of “both aristocrat and outcast” he engineered his following reflecting his own youthful and perhaps voyeuristic fascination with Coleridge and Wordsworth, falling in with the cult of the first celebrity, and perhaps defining our first ‘cool celebrity drug user’.

Jay continues in conclusion to point out that De Quincey’s entire identity was existing through his Confession’s creation, which allowed him to indulge his vice till he died at a ripe age, and to continue to play out romantic dramatisations of the confessional throughout his long and pained existence, ultimately however, to find himself losing the spark of literary vision from the weight of such soporific dependence.

Yet Jay reminds us we should not forget that Quincey’s  “harrowing portrait of the labyrinth of addiction, far in advance of the medical understanding of the day, remains unsurpassed.”

“He was, in modern parlance, a high-functioning addict: the drug enabled him to cope with the self-inflicted stresses of debt, illness and overwork, to persist in a hand-to-mouth existence, to play the victim and indulge an endless drama of persecution. His identity as the Opium Eater served as both cause and excuse for his miserable state. On the rare occasions he had money, he stopped writing and lived the life of leisure he believed to be his birthright; it was his expenditure on opium that forced him back to work, along with his need for fame. The life of the Opium Eater was a living death, but it was also immortality.”

For the entire article, well worth reading, click here. But here is a sample in brief;

 Mike Jay’s discussion on De Quincey as the first real drug enthusiast, begins with an introduction to the classic film, Confessions of an Opium-Eater

There is a little-known film entitled Confessions of an Opium-Eater, shot on a shoestring by Albert Zugsmith in 1962 and starring Vincent Price, an attempt to cash in on and extend his successful series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations. It opens with vaseline-fogged images of a Chinese junk and a delirious Price voice-over (‘I am De Quincey…I dream…and I create dreams…out of my opium pipe…’) before clarifying that his character is in fact Gilbert De Quincey, a presumed descendent who wanders the seas as a captain-for-hire searching for ‘…well, what every man searches for’. In the Chinatown of late nineteenth-century San Francisco he is drawn into an intrigue between Tong factions that cues a breathless farrago of opium dens, secret passages, caged Oriental women, masked thugs, rooftop chases and hatchet fights: a two-fisted De Quincey against the Yellow Peril.

Beyond the passing observation that Thomas De Quincey would have applauded its racial politics, the film demonstrates two points very clearly. The first is the remarkable persistence of De Quincey the Opium-Eater as the archetype of the modern drugtaker, recognisable enough even to hook teenage audiences in the drive-ins of the southern States (Poe might have been on their school syllabus, but De Quincey surely not). The second is that this recognition depends on no element of either his life or his work beyond his name and the title of his most celebrated book.

For the rest of Mike Jays excellent article on De Quincey, click here.

Here is a terrific trailer of the original film, which will lead you to the entire film as seen on You Tube grouped in about 10 parts. Brilliant stuff.

Oh Jeez, ok here is part 1 an’ all, which gives you a direct link at the end on You Tube to the other 9. Take a chill pill and watch good ol’ Vincent Price at his finest.

Last Train to Woking

I just came across this story on an old blog of ours, written by BP Magazine’s co-founder Chris Drouet. Its hysterical, and a nod back to the old days of Diconal which were so popular in the UK during the 1980’s. Chris of course, overdosed in 2009, a huge loss -but it has made me start thinking about logging all the material from the back issues on this site, as there is some really classic stuff there. Anyway, over to Chris…

Train

Train Trip...

I had just picked up my script of Ritalin and physeptone amps and from somewhere I’d got five Diconal so I was looking forward to having a nice hit. I was standing on the platform on Waterloo Station looking up at the departure board for the next train to Woking in order to go and sign on for bail at the Police Station. There’s a train leaving in 15 minutes. Perfect! I can get on it and have a hit in the toilet before it leaves because I don’t really like trying to do it on a moving train. I go into the toilet and get my usual fix together, 5 Rit and 5 Diconal.

Just as the buzz is coming on me I hear a woman’s voice outside say, 

‘ Here, John, there’s someone in there having a fix. Get the guard’.

Then I hear someone, obviously John say, ‘Fuck the guard . I’ll get the police’.

Oh no. The police is the last thing I need, I was already on three lots of bail and another nicking I can do without.

A couple of minutes later the train starts moving out of the station. Relief sweeps over me. Plod couldn’t have had time to get on yet. Just then there’s a banging on the door and a voice saying,

‘Come on out Chris. We know it’s you in there and when you do come out, you’re nicked’.

Like fuck I am’. I reply, ‘I’m not coming out. If you wanna nick me you’re gonna have to come in here and do it. All you cunts can fuck off’.

A wave of panic engulfs me. I’ve got two 5ml works to get rid of plus the Rit blister packs. Then I hear plod say, ‘Can you turn the water off in there’?

They must be talking to the guard, I think. ‘Yes’, another voice retorts. I try the taps-nothing. There’s no water in the toilet bowl and there aren’t any windows to throw anything out of. What the fuck am I gonna do now? I really don’t wanna get nicked again. Not for something as trivial as this, anyway.

One of the cops says, ‘Can you undo the lock or get it off from out here’?

‘Yes.’ came the reply.

I look at the bolt and sure enough, it’s slowly being worked back so I jump to the door and slam the bolt back home. What am I gonna do? It’s only a matter of time till they come in. Suddenly, like a light being switched on, an idea comes to me. I pull the plungers out of both the syringes, pull off the little rubber things and swallow them and crush all the rest under the heel of my shoe. Thank God I wasn’t wearing trainers. I crush them till the plastic bits are reduced to tiny slivers.

Then I have to push the bolt home again and when I do I hear from outside,

‘You bastard, we’ll get you.’

‘No you fucking won’t, you cunts. Have it up a tree all of you, you fuckers.’

I lay down on the floor on my stomach in the piss and dirt and filth with my feet jammed against the door so they can’t get in and I poked all the little bits of plastic through the ventilation grill one by one as the holes were so small. Every so often I had to jump up and push the bolt back home again. each time I did the police outside gave me a volley of abuse which I answered in spades

‘Why don’t you cunts fuck off and leave me alone. Haven’t you got anything better to do. Why don’t you go and nick a few nonces instead of hassling me, you fucking wankers?’ Fuck off. Fuck off. Fuck off!!!

Screaming and shouting I was getting really worked up.

Eventually I managed to push everything, syringes, spikes and even the little bits of silver foil from the Ritalin through the ventilation grill so there was nothing in my possession to be nicked for and I began to relax a little.

I can still hear the police outside the door talking. I can’t hear what they’re saying as they’re now keeping their voices down. I try and clean myself up as best I can in the circumstances. I’ve still got to sign on for bail and I’ve got all these dirty pissy marks down the front of my shirt as a result of lying on the toilet floor and I look a mess. I stand with my back to the window facing the door waiting for the police to come in and arrest me.

Nothing.

The train starts slowing down as it’s pulling into Woking station. It stops and I don’t have any choice’ I’ve got to get off the train to go and sign on. I gather myself together the best I can knowing that they’re out there just waiting for me to get off the train. They know who I am and, I guess, where I’m going.

I open the door and walk out into the corridor and there was no-one there. Fuck! I’d imagined the bloody whole episode.
By C.D sadly missed.

Whitney…A Life Shared?

Didn't We Almost Have It All

Whitney's bathroom where she holed up to smoke crack -perhaps not all that different to bathrooms and coffee tables we know?

This was written just after Whitney died though just tidied up and re-posted today.Hi, I just felt I should raise a flag, have a moment, share a thought about Whitney Houston. Now although it isn’t really relevant here I will say Im not a great fan of her music as such, despite acknowledging her incredibly beautiful voice, but that shouldn’t stop me from feeling something for a sister lost the fight to stay alive and function well whilst taking drugs.Whitney, I remember, informed me (through reading about her escapades) of crack smoking methods for the very rich; ie -she made her own ‘the crack blunt’ or ‘crack cigar’ -basically using cigar papers, (or by emptying a cigar) she’d roll up marijuana, stuff loads of it in there, and stick an 8 ball of crack in there as well -and that was how she would smoke! Now thats an 8th of an ounce my friends (3.5 gms yes?).  She talked about this on her 2009 Oprah interview.. Now just imagine that to blow your Godamn socks off! And of course she would cook up her crack, it appeared looking at the fotos of her bathroom that were exposed a couple of years back (and re-exposed recently -see pic). She would cook up coke in the spoon, so she had obviously ditched the fussy freebase way and just gone straight for the bicarb. Although her chauffeur of many years has recently come out and said his car caught fire when Whitney and Bobbi were freebasing in the backseat of their limmo which they seemed to do regularly, inbetween her late night limmo rides to Compton, a dangerous gangland area where she could buy crack and dope at any time of the day or night.

whitney's bathroom

Now anyone who has experienced the scary intensity of a stimulant dependence will know, looking at Whitney’s bathroom pics, at what kind of state she would have been in, and when your bathroom gets like that, then things are pretty intense. But it was the psychological stuff that was really concerning, that level of drug activity is going to end up in disaster -and with stimulants you just know that paranoia is going to set in at some stage down that drug smoking road when your using massive amounts of stimulant drugs.
Whitney’s psychosis got so bad (she sent her cleaners home, moved Tina Brown in to tidy up and be her smoking buddy when Bobby wasn’t around-Tina being Bobby’s sister who also had a crack problem) and she just lived in her bathroom and bedroom. Tina, after some time sold her story to the press, with pictures of the bathroom, but worrying had said said that Whitney would be covered in bruises where she used to hit and punch herself really hard becoz she thought demons were coming up through the floor into her body – or she would see them trying to get out of her body and into Bobby Brown so she’d hit herself again. It must have been crazy to live like that and it is incredible really that it seemed to go on for so long.

It really sounded like a painful existence, to have all that money and all those drugs, and because society does not let us discuss our drug user sensibly,  and the media will not let celebrities have a drug problem without screwing them to death over it -people just hide stuff, take cover, get out the way of people who will judge you as so often so many do…

Whitney’s daughter seems to have her own problems, her ex boyfriend saying she has a serious coke problem and pictures being leaked of her snorting lines…How on earth she managed to grow up level headed in those extremely intense and excessive surroundings -must have been almost impossible –  however she certainly did have a close relationship with her mother – who did seem to share an especially strong bond with her -which surprises none of us as we know how deep that love for our children goes – drugs or no drugs.  She ‘appears’ to have a drug problem as cited by ex boyfriends etc, and she was certainly around her mum and dad when things were at their craziest (the chauffeur stating Whitney regularly smoked crack in front of Bobbi, as well as her husband. I imagine the drug taking would pale into insignificance when trying to cope with a large helping of cocaine psychosis. According again, to Tina Brown, (though it clearly has a ring of truth to it mirroring dutifully what really does happen in coke induced freakouts) Whitney would get screwdrivers  to pull apart all sorts of appliances  and objects thinking she was being bugged and spied on, and would spend months in just her pyjamas. How Bobbi jnr will fare is anyone’s guess in Hollywood with all that money and temptation all around you to just wanna forget…

We are starting to hear now about the days before Whitneys death and her totally wasted state. I dont know what im trying to say about all this except it seems painful indeed to watch (becoz we can watch it all) how someone, who really did have one of the best voices of all time -fall into such a desperate state. Her interviews with Oprah make compelling viewing, she was clearly in love with Bobby Brown, truly madly and deeply, despite him appearing like a temperamental bully, who would flip into a rage at a seconds notice and whom she always seemed to be appeasing. What a mess it all got. How awful to have ones messes thrown across the pages of the worlds tabloids and gossip columns for all to see..However for reading the views of people really quite well placed to comment, Whitney was also a victim of the addiction society has of stigmatising drug using women -there either the victim -usually of bad men -(like Whitney) or the temptress and vixen, like Courtney Love. Amy Winehouse (victim of bad men again), Lyndsay Lohan (temptress and manipulator).  Whitneys chauffeur of 4 or so years said it was Whitney that 9 times out of 10 wanted to go and score, demanding to get high, now, and not Bobby the demonized husband. (Though he does appear the violent and jealous type with a huge chip on his shoulder struggling under the shadow of his way more talented wife)…

It is said Whitney has spent her 100 odd million fortune and was effectively broke just recently. That is some serious goddamn money to go through on drugs and fast living and Im sure she had some good times amongst all that! There was a purpose to all that activity! Fun! Imagine what you would do with all that money and drugs and resorts to indulge in! And then, you start taking drugs to forget the mess your leaving all around you…

Again, im not sure what i am trying to say, just that I wanted to remember her, hold up a little torch and say -as a using community – we understand the difficulties of drug dependence when it gets really ugly -and I just wish we didnt have a society that has made it almost impossible for society to learn how to use drugs in moderation, not in excess, that we could buy clean, safer, cheaper drugs…It is perhapsnot suprising at all however that we will probably find Whitney died from prescription drugs given to her by a multitude of doctors who just kept accepting the cheques she gave for another prescription (but we cant blame the Dr’s really either coz we know how they get hassled and pleaded with to prescribe something to help/get through). But it is typical nevertheless -Get her off the illicit drugs only to stuff her full of the legal ones. Im not blaming anyone here, just trying to show some sadness for the way Whitney spent the last years of her life. It doesnt seem right does it? It doesn’t seem right she appeared to be left in this truely psyched out state, for so long. What happened there i wonder? She was clearly a diva and had a rotten temper of late but so many people claimed to adore her…Was she just too difficult and people had pretty much given up? Or were people turning a blind eye, and what they didn’t see every day, didnt happen. Too complicated, too hard, too busy today….

We will remember her amongst our using community, as yet another victim of Hollywood’s massive excess, (though not, as stanton Peele says, because of Hollywood itself) the hypocrisy, and a developing drugs culture in our society that has no ability to guide generations effectively through the tricky minefield of psychoactive substances.
RIP Whitney..

Video of the Russian Embassy Protest Dec 1st 2011

This is a video of the global protest that was held on World AIDS day 2011, in around 12 cities around the world, led by the drug using community and INPUD, the International Network of People who Use Drugs -protesting against to the Russian government’s shameful inaction regarding the drugs and HIV catastrophe unfolding in the region.

Steve Jobs sees the light…

Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...

Image via Wikipedia

An interesting  article by Glen Greenwald from ENCOD reprinted here – coz its important to remember that clever dudes take drugs too -and that the insight a little letting go can give (ala LSD) can be lifechanging…RIP Jobbies

America’s most admired inventor heaps praise on his own drug use, exposing the falsity at the heart of the Drug War

By Glenn Greenwald .

It’s fascinating to juxtapose America’s reverence for Steve Jobs’ accomplishments and its draconian drug policy with this, from the New York Times‘ obituary of Jobs:

[Jobs] told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. He said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand.

Unlike many people who have enjoyed success, Jobs is not saying that he was able to succeed despite his illegal drug use; he’s saying his success is in part — in substantial part — because of those illegal drugs (he added that Bill Gates would “be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once”). These quotes (first published by a New York Times reporter) have been around for some time but have been only rarely discussed in the recent hagiographies of Jobs: a notable omission given that he himself praised those experiences as an integral part of his identity and one of the most important things he ever did. A surprisingly good Time Magazine article elaborates on this Jobs-LSD connection further:

 

The paradoxes of love have perhaps never been clearer than in our relationships with Apple products — the warm, fleshy desire we feel for such cold, hard, glassy objects. But Jobs knew how to inspire material lust. He knew that consumers want something that not only sparkles and awes, but also feels accessible, easy to use, an object with which we want to merge and to feel one and the same. . . .

 

Not coincidentally, that’s how people describe the experience of taking psychedelic drugs. It feels profoundly artificial yet deeply real, both high-tech and earthy-crunchy, human and mystically divine — in a word, transcendent. Jobs had this experience. . . . As attested by the nearly spiritual devotion so many consumers have to Jobs’ creations, the former Apple chief (and indeed many other top technology pioneers) appeared to have found enduring inspiration in LSD. Research shows that the psychedelic experience is, in fact, long lasting: a new study published last week found that people who took magic mushrooms (psilocybin) had long-term personality changes, becoming more open, more curious, more intellectually engaged and more creative. These personality shifts persisted more than a year after taking the drugs.

 

America’s harsh prohibitionist drug policies are grounded in the premise that the prohibited substances have little or no redeeming value and cannot be used without life-destroying consequences. Yet the evidence of its falsity is undeniable. Here is one of the most admired men in America, its greatest contemporary industrialist, hailing one of the most scorned of these substances as integral to his success and intellectual and personal growth. The current President commendably acknowledged cocaine and marijuana use while there is evidence suggesting the prior President also used those substances. One of America’s most accomplished athletes was caught using marijuana at the peak of his athletic achievements. And millions upon millions of American adults have consumed some or many of those criminally prohibited substances, and themselves will say (like Jobs) that they had important and constructive experiences with those drugs or know someone who did.

 

In short, the deceit at the heart of America’s barbaric drug policy — that these substances are such unadulterated evils that adults should be put in cages for voluntarily using them — is more glaring than ever. It’s rather difficult to reconcile America’s adoration for Steve Jobs in light of what he said and did with its ongoing obsession with prosecuting and imprisoning millions of citizens (mostly poor and minorities) for doing what Jobs, Obama, Michael Phelps and millions of others have done. Obviously, most of these banned substances — like alcohol, gambling, sex, junk food consumption, prescription drug use and a litany of other legal activities — can create harm to the individual and to others when abused (though America’s response to drug use — prison — also creates rather substantial harm to the drug user and to others, including their spouses, parents and children). But no rational person can doubt that these substances can also be used responsibly and constructively; just study Steve Jobs’ life if you doubt that.

 

Jobs’ praise for his LSD use is what I kept returning to as I read about the Obama DOJ’s heinous new policy to use the full force of criminal prosecutions against medical marijuana dispensaries in California. In October, 2009, I enthusiastically praised Eric Holder and the DOJ for appearing to fulfill Obama’s campaign promise by refraining from prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries in compliance with state law (a “rare instance of unadulterated good news from Washington,” I gushed). Yet now, U.S. Attorneys in California will expend substantial law enforcement resources to persecute medical marijuana dispensaries that sell to consenting adults even though those transactions have been legalized by the voters of California and 16 other states (to see what a complete reversal this is of everything Obama and Holder previously said on this subject, see here).

 

Progressives love to point out the hypocrisy of social conservatives who righteously rail against (and demand legal sanction for) the very same sexually sinful behavior in which they enthusiastically engage — and rightly so. But what about a society that continues to imprison millions of human beings for using substances that vast numbers of people in the nation have secretly used and enjoyed, or which empowers people with the Oval Office, or reveres people like Steve Jobs, who have done the same? Even leaving aside the rather significant (and shameful) fact that drug laws are enforced with overwhelming dispropritionality against racial minorities, what possible justification is there for putting someone in a cage for using a substance they choose to use without any evidence that they’ve harmed anyone else or even risked harm to anyone else?

 

All of this becomes even more incomprehensible when one considers the never-ending preaching about the need for “austerity,” which means: depriving poor and middle class citizens of services and financial security. In this environment, how can it possibly be justified to expend substantial sums of money investigating, arresting, prosecuting and then imprisoning large numbers of people for doing nothing more than consuming marijuana or selling it in states where it is legal to sell it to other consenting adults? That makes about as much sense as deploying a State Department army of 16,000 for a permanent presence in Iraq at the same time political and financial elites plot cuts to Social Security and Medicare. I genuinely don’t understand why a policy that single-handedly sustains America’s status as World’s Largest Jailer — and that consigns huge numbers of minorities and America’s poor to prison and permanent criminal status for no good reason, in the process breaking up families at astonishing rates (to say nothing of the inexorable erosion of civil liberties) — isn’t a higher priority for progressives.

But just like the senseless and monumentally wasteful Endless military War, America’s Drug War feeds the pockets of a powerful private industry: the growing privatized prison industry, which needs more and more prisoners for profits, gets many from drug convictions, and thus vehemently opposes and lobbies against any reform to the nation’s drug laws as well as reform of harsh criminal sentencing. That, combined with self-righteous, deeply hypocritical anti-drug moralizing and complete obliviousness to evidence, has ensured not that the Drug War and its prison obsession endures, but that it remains outside the scope of what can even be discussed in mainstream political circles. And as the Obama DOJ’s newly intensified attacks on marijuana demonstrate, the problem is, in many respects, getting worse, even as most of the world moves toward a much more restrained and health-based (rather than crime-based) approach to dealing with drug usage.

When Memories Hurt

Watching tv the other night, feet up on the sofa, eyes closed, ears listening out for Murdoch updates on the news, enjoying a little opiated nod…Then i heard the newsflash…Amy Winehouse is found dead in her flat. I leapt up and let out a strange noise, a shock that went right through me, like this awful pain. i dont know where it really came from, it caught me so by surprise. I didnt even own one of her records (though i wanted one) and so i just sat there with my mouth just open, speechless, in fact i couldnt speak at all for ages…i looked at my mum who was shocked at my reaction and wanted to know what was wrong, did i know her? I didnt. But so many times i meant to write to her, to try and give her some strength and comradeship from our using/activist community – some belief in herself that might protect her from the complete crap that the tabloids used to dump on her.. all those awful jokes they said about her, all those terrible articles and photos, calling her the ugliest woman in the world (incredible!! Who are these fuckhead journos? GQ mag i think -And not forgetting Murdochs collection of disgusting exposes- good ridence to him aye!), dissing her at any opportunity, calling her names, and all those horrible jokes, the sniggering about her drug use, catching the photos when she skips up the pavement,.proof that she’s a staggering drunk, peering with long lenses into her own HOME to.catch.her smoking crack, splash it across the front pages…destroy another life……and now she is dead.

It just seems to awful, it seems so sad, there was something about her music that plunged into the depths of emotion, humour, love and life -the same kind of places we visit and dive into when we choose drugs; its so easy for us to use our.drugs to both pull you out of despair but also to throw you in the colourful genius of life and its brilliant adventures. We can be so vulnerable when we are young, drugs can be dangerous there is no doubt about it, its so easy to start mixing too many drugs together. I fear it may be the alcohol that pushed her over the edge, it so often is when mixed with CNS depressants…but apparently she had only got out of the Priory (rehab) the week before and saw her doctor the day before she died. Are we going to hear about a prescriptionor cocktail of drugs, taken perhaps with too much alcohol? Whatever the case may be, i along with thousands of others, am feeling a huge pain and loss of a special talent.

I cant help but wondering tho, Is it simply a case of opening old wounds, a reminder of friends and loved ones who we have lost in the same painful way? I dont know. probably. but im depressed, every death gets harder to bear it seems, it gets closer and closer each time to touching the rawest nerve..Or Is it a fear of the thinnest of tightropes we find ourselves walking on, jolted awake with a short sharp shock? a knife in the guts. A scare. A reminder of our fragility? It makes me afraid, a ghostly feeling that leaves me less whole, for a while at least, but the older i get the more i feel these things chip away at my belief in living life until a ripe old age. it cuts off more corners, and tries to leave u vulnerable all over again. RIP Amy and everyone else who is remembered on our very recent international remembrance day, 21st July 2011…

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