Drug Consumption Rooms

Here is a video I just wanted to share with you all, it was made in the UK by one of our treasured harm reduction /drug workers Phillipe Bonnet in Birmingham and he presents a very honest (and difficult to watch at times) account of why we need drug consumption rooms all across the world – particularly in the UK today. We have yet to open such a facility in the UK -it makes no sense to shy away from such a simple, straightforward solution. Our pal Neil Hunt talks about cost and why DCR’s are not that expensive and that they could hook onto needle exchanges as they already appear. Why not? How much longer can we look the other way when we have the solution in our very hands -solutions with the evidence base to back it up. As Dr Judith Yates in the film says “A simple intervention like this early on, can prevent all this damage later on”.

A word from the film-makers – Published on 23 Oct 2012

This Documentary invites the audience to see the harsh reality of ‘street injecting’ drug users in the UK’s second city Birmingham. The presenter Philippe Bonnet explores this subject by interviewing outreach workers, health care professionals and current and ex drug-users. The film shows how other countries around the world have found a solution to this and as a result have reduced harms and costs associated with this phenomenon and ultimately helped drug users access treatment and begin their recovery.

 

ALERT -contaminated ecstasy, a global issue

Tablets sold as MDMA may contain other chemicals

Tablets sold as MDMA may contain other chemicals

Sadly, perhaps the most important news to report today, on what should be a day for celebration in our communityInternational Drug Users Day (on the 1st of November every year), is a contamination issue that has gone global, affecting ecstasy. INPUD has just released this information sheet for circulation on the contamination of ecstasy by the chemical PMA and the subsequent tragic deaths that have resulted, covering what you can do to stay informed and protect yourself. Here is an introduction to the issue from the document  PMA_Warning_INPUD_Oct2013_v.1 (1) or link to it from your website. Help yourself to information for dissemination amongst the using community but please credit INPUD.

PMA Info Sheet LINK

PMA Contaminated Ecstasy and MDMA Alert for MDMA and Ecstasy Users

English: PMA (para-methoxyamphetamine) capsule...

 PMA (para-methoxyamphetamine) capsules seized in Maryland, USA 

If you use ecstasy and/or MDMA, you cannot afford to think of this as one of those things that happens to other people. There is lots of misinformation going around, and people using uppers, ecstasy, and MDMA need some straightforward facts.

Recent deaths

Deaths caused by ecstasy contaminated with the drug para-Methoxyamphetamine (PMA) have increased substantially over the last two years. The Office for National Statistics records no PMA deaths in 2008, 2009, and 2010 in England and Wales, up to a recorded one death in 2011 to around twenty deaths in 2012.

This trend has continued into 2013. There have been media and police reports that in recent months, a man has died in Manchester, with several people additionally requiring hospitalisation, and there were more reported deaths in Manchester towards the beginning of the year; in addition, at least two people have died this year in Cheshire, further people have died in the North of England, in Oxford, and in Hampshire, and we aware of numerous people who have mistakenly taken PMA in London. Deaths have been recorded in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the USA (several states), Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Australia.

If you use ecstasy and/or MDMA, you cannot afford to think of this as one of those things that happens to other people. There is  lots of misinformation going around, and people using uppers, ecstasy, and MDMA need some straightforward facts

What is PMA?

PMA is a dangerous compound. Using it has substantial negatives, not the least of which are high morbidity and high mortality, and there is little by way of psychoactive positives to justify these downsides. This is different from uncontaminated MDMA, which is substantially safer to the individual using the drug than many other psychoactive  substances, including alcohol and tobacco (its Class A status is nonsensical as an indicator of harm).

Most people are not deliberately buying and taking PMA in greater numbers; instead the ecstasy they are using, the active ingredient of which is ideally MDMA, has been contaminated. The reasons for this contamination are unclear, but it is possible that a precursor to the synthesis of PMA is easier to acquire than a precursor to MDMA.

Regardless of the reason, the fact is that people are dying due to taking a drug they did not intend to take. (continued by clicking link below)

Click here for the full Information Sheet (available for printing)

Full text from article on BP page

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…

Lung Health and Smoking Drugs

Anatomy of the respiratory system, showing the...

Maintaining Lung Health, BP issue 14

HI again,

I just came across 2 very comprehensive websites with information that I wanted to pass on. In creating our current issue of Black Poppy, we had been researching information to kick off a series on Maintaining Lung Health. It was becoming very clear that more of our peers had been having obvious problems with their lungs. Over the years we had had many conversations with friends where we worryied about the state of our lungs – smoking pipe after pipe of the ol’ rocks, or chasing the brown on foil til the cows came home…Not to mention how many of us have also been heavy cigarette smokers as well as weed so it is no wonder really, that we had concerns about what was going on in our lungs. And from what I’ve seen lately with friends as they get older, that concern was well fairly well placed.

COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the illness we decided to cover in the magazine this issue as it seems to be the one that’s cropping up more often and one I see affecting more people. COPD‘s really a general name for a group of 2 or 3 lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, and bronchiectasis. A person will have 2 or more of these to get a diagnosis with COPD; like emphysema and chronic bronchitis, for example. People who have been heavy ciggy and drug smokers for years and are now getting nasty ‘smokers coughs’, finding it hard to breathe when walking or taking exercise,  coughing up gunk, losing weight, getting over tired…all these are symptoms of COPD. The older the drug using community get the more I fear we could see diseases like this take hold. Stopping smoking is of course the most important thing you can do, but it seems so often COPD is an illness getting overlooked. In fact it is generally not diagnosed rapidly enough in the ordinary population – let alone in people who use drugs. In fact, they say there are 2.4 million people in Britain who don’t realise they have COPD.

We know those regular visits to the Dr for the methadone prescription aren’t always the places where we get asked about our other health issues (unfortunately), and breathing or chest problems – which we often put down to ‘smoking too many fags’ just aren’t taken seriously enough but this is one of those illnesses where the sooner you get diagnosed the better your chances.

However, with a dear friend overdosing and dying last year, who was found to have emphysema that he didn’t know about, lung problems are actually now making us more vulnerable to overdose and death simply because of the reduced respiration.

It is important that we begin to educate ourselves and each other about our lung health – and lung architecture (fabulous word!). Apparently when we start getting symptoms that there is something wrong in our lungs as much as 50% of our lungs architecture can be damaged. Because the lungs don’t tend to show symptoms unless a lot of damage has already been done. So it really means that when we start having problems breathing, coughing, wheezing etc, we MUST take it to a Dr (who will listen) and tell them we are concerned about our lung function and ask for a lung function test (a very simple test which just involves you blowing into something) – and which takes no time at all.

Anyway, here is a couple of websites that I have found to have loads of useful information on COPD all in one place.We have also – as I mentioned –  heavily researched it for this issue of BP (no 14) and covered marijuana smoking and lung complaints as well, so worth a look. Cigarettes are clearly the main culprit here but the research on just how much smoking other drugs contributes to problems – is hard to gauge because the research itself is hard to gather. Smoking drugs, and injecting them can all contribute in a variety of ways to lung problems; there is a huge variation in what can happen to your lungs based on what drugs you use, and whether you smoke or inject them, and how you do it (depth of inhalation, how long you keep smoke in, how hot your pipe is, what you use to light your pipe etc how often you smoke and how much you use in frequency and amount) – which all contribute to whether it is an ongoing (chronic) or acute (pretty instant-ish) problem. BP will be sure to keep you posted – we aren’t into freaking people out about all the gross things that can happen if you take drugs, its more about providing the information for people who have been trying to figure out why they have certain symptoms, and whether their drug use could be impacting and if there’s new ways to take their drugs that will help lessen the negative effects. After all, we all wanna have fun, don’t we?

Symptoms of COPD click here

The whole website is here with loads of info on COPD (European resource)

An American site, again with a lot of collated info and good links called the COPD Foundation

Missing Sebastian Horsley

Sebastian Reading Black Poppy

Sebastian Reading Black Poppy

Today as I was doing the final proofread for our newest issue, I was weighed down by re-reading my interview piece about Sebastian Horsley. He was such a warm and witty person, a Dandy personified; I just wanted to put in a few of his thoughts that I couldn’t fit in our article. Some will irritate, some will shock, but Sebastian said it like it was for him; he wasn’t afraid to be disliked, though he loved to be loved, he was a misfit – like us – and he saw that in our eyes, as much as we understood that in his.

Note: Sebastian died in June – a few days after his play, based on his book, Dandy in the Underworld opened in the West End.

Emails…..

Erin: “I have to say it is so refreshing to see someone live their life authentically, being true, individual; romantic and vulnerable. Fuckin brilliant I say! Fill your life with your own meaning and colours, not others.

Sebastian: That is such a beautiful sentence thank you Erin. I have tried not to be a hypocrite. I have tried not to build walls around myself. I have tried to live the truth of my life and it sometimes makes others question theirs. You see I am no different than them, I just choose to be honest about it. And you have done the same. But they call it immorality and are jealous because we dare to live whilst they have not the guts. But that is England for you.I cannot tell you how warming it is to meet kindred spirits. I choose life because I have no alternative, because I know that after death there is nothing at all. An affirmation of individual life, in itself and for itself, desirable because it is “absurd”, without final meaning or metaphysical justification. I can’t wait to receive the copies especially our one! And to see you at the play, My Love as Ever. Sx

Sebastian re a date for chat and tea: I suggest tea at  Saturday 20th say 2.00pm  Horsley Towers. 7 Meard Street.  Heterosexual tea, kinky tea, G& T, or notoriety? Although of course you know my favourite? Insincerity. Roughly when will this be published my dear so I know what to wear? Looking forward to seeing you and meeting Lisa. And being photographed by her. I like her website and am sure I can add to it with my gorgeousness, ha ha!

“Maybe I would like to get high with myself.  Still i find the allure of narcotics more exciting than sex, which is strange.”

Sebastian to friend (forwarded back to me from Seb): I just did an interview Black Poppy. How could I resist? “The Heroin Users Health & Lifestyle Magazine.” Priceless! Now isn’t that genuinely subversive in a pathetically non-subversive age? It rather be in that than any of those wanker Guardian/Observer broadsheets. Erin didn’t pay me but being on the cover is payment enough I’d say. Yes she is well. I really love her and I admire so much what they do. It is isn’t in my nature to support any cause or group but I support them with everything. Like you, I’m just so glad people like that exist. NOTHING LIKE THAT EXISTS ANYMORE APART FROM CUNTS LIKE US.

Sebastian: on Heroin

I always love the smell of heroin in the morning. Smells like … victory. SH

Everything was going to be all right. A coal fire on a stormy night, rain that could not touch me beating against the window pane. Streams made of smoke, and smoke that formed into shinning pools. Thoughts shimmering on the borders of a languorous hallucination.

Heroin is the only thing that really works, the only thing that stops you scampering around in a hamster’s wheel of unanswerable questions. Heroin is the cavalry. Heroin is the missing chair leg, made with such precision that it matched every splinter of the break. Heroin landed purring at the base of my skull, and wrapped itself darkly around my nervous system, like  a black cat curling up on its favourite cushion. It is as soft and rich as the throat of a wood pigeon, or the splash of sealing wax onto a page, or a handful of gems slipping from palm to palm.

On drugs you know you’re happy. Heroin easily makes do without people. Out of almost nothing it creates a presence. It gives the gift of life. It  imparts depth and beauty to all, drawing it together, providing atmosphere, charm and intimacy with all the palpitations of life. It creates an illusion. It creates the illusion.

Sebastian says in our interview that he couldn’t use and work – “I would like to be able to take drugs and work, but for me its a very simple exchange; it’s taken me a long time and a lot of mistakes to work it out; if I take heroin and crack that’s all I will do, I cant do anything else. If i don’t take C&H I can do anything I want – apart from that.”

Look out for one of the last Horsley interviews in BPs next issue no 14. Funny, witty and kind, he will be really, really missed.

For SH’s Images, click here

Erin O

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