'Ice' - the unintended consequence of Prohibition.

Ask anyone these days and they will tell you that Australia is experiencing an ‘Ice Epidemic’ – anyone that is other than those people who would actually know - those working on the front line in the drug user health services.
Interestingly with all the media attention that Ice has been getting you would think that the media would interview those people who represent the users – the Drug User Organisations. So I contacted and asked them and the majority of Drug User Organisations around Australia had not even been contacted or the ones that did found that the answer they got wasn’t as sexy as they had hoped – according to the front line- there is no ‘Ice epidemic’ and lets face it - that isn't going to sell newspapers!
The topic of 'Ice' is like Poverty Porn or Terrorism– no matter how gory or horrific the details get people can’t seem to turn away from it. Plus it’s so juicy to gossip about, because everyone “knows someone who knows someone” who’s on 'the Ice'. 
Fortunately for The Abbott Government this sensationalism and mass hysteria acts as a convenient smokescreen for the Liberal government policy failures. If the Government can keep the public talking about 'Ice' then they don’t have to have the conversation about high unemployment rates, cut backs to services and the increasingly high rates of suicide and mental health issues in rural settings.

The latest news coming out of Australia is that Tony Abbott has announced a ‘dob in a dealer’ hotline. A $45.5 Million hotline. This is in a reported ‘response’ to the media circus and political freak show that has traveled around the country giving a voice to every concerned parent and ‘ex user’ from Lismore to Yuendumu to Elizabeth and Margaret River.
Image result for syringe
Julie Bates is a longtime drug law reform activist and current sits on the  to the NSW User and AIDS Association (NUAA) board had this to say on the subject:
What about 'dob in a drunk,' far more drunk and dangerous people out theredoing harm to themselves and others than people using illicit substances.And, the statistics prove it. Until the Australian government fullyrecognizes a harm reduction approach to all kinds of substance use andkills the war on drugs, that kills people, they will continue to prop upillicit drug sales and labs and inflate the coffers of the criminaleconomy.

Prohibition has made drugs more potent and more profitable and the drug referred to as‘Ice’ is without a doubt an unintended by product of Prohibition. 


People who use drugs and the role of the Media

People who use drugs and the role of the Media 

Here we are it's 2015 and still the media think its ok to call people who use drugs 'Junkies'.
In this particular instance with The Northern Star newspaper in New South Wales in Australia its not just 'Junkie, no not just Junkie but 'Junkie Scum''- Nice!
In a attempt to sell newspapers my local rag has gone to denigrating and dehumanizing users once again.
Currently most countries have some rules that govern what the media or others can and cannot do, and who they can and cannot discriminate against.
Great - I hear you say but hold, on there's a catch - it seems its still ok to discriminate against people who use drugs in most countries. While the impact of stigmatization and discrimination is widely known and accepted, it seems that as users of different drugs we are somehow unaffected by stigma or perhaps they consider us as deserving of such humiliation and discrimination. Sure they might not get away with talking derogatorily about our diseases or disabilities such as HIV or Hep C but it seems as PWUD we are still fair game.
I for one think that is quite frankly - fucked.


Time to end Prohibition say The Global Commision on Drug Policy

In their latest report released today Tuesday 9/9/2014 The Global Commission on Drug Policy has called for an official end to the War on Drugs and people who use illicit drugs by UNGASS 2016.

The report is the fourth release from the Commission since its inception in 2011 and is calling for more sane, realistic and human drug policies. Not only does the report detail the overwhelming evidence and  failure of Prohibition to attain its stated goals but also identifies the horrific unintended consequences of punitive and prohibitionist laws and policies on individuals, communities, society and the environment.

"Harsh measures grounded in repressive ideologies must be replaced by more humane and effective policies shaped by scientific evidence, public health principles and human rights standards. This is the only way to simultaneously reduce drug-related death, disease and suffering and the violence, crime, corruption and illicit markets associated with ineffective prohibitionist policies. The fiscal implications of the policies we advocate, it must be stressed, pale in comparison to the direct costs and indirect consequences generated by the current regime."
In order to reduce drug related harms and undermine the power and profits of organized crime, the Commission recommends that governments regulate drug markets and adapt their enforcement strategies to target the most violent and disruptive criminal groups rather than punish low level players.

“The world needs to discuss new approaches… we are basically still thinking within the same framework as we have done for the last 40 years … A new approach should try and take away the violent profit that comes with drug trafficking… If that means legalizing, and the world thinks that’s the solution, I will welcome it. I’m not against it.”

Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia.

Below are the five recommended pathways to end Prohibition.


Elliot Albers from INPUD calls for an end to the War on People who use Drugs.

‘Without an end to the global war that has long been fought on our community there will be no end to HIV’.  Elliot Albers- EO of INPUD (International Network of People who use Drugs) and community activist.  

‘Without an end to the global war that has long been fought on our community there will be no end to HIV’, says Elliot Albers- EO of INPUD (International Network of People who use Drugs) and community activist.

In his speech to the AIDS 2014 Conference in Melbourne Australia titled ‘Perspectives from the Community of People who Use Drugs’ Elliot Albers called for an end to ‘The War on people who use Drugs’ and an immediate cessation of the violence being perpetuated under the 1961 Single Convention in the name of ‘prohibition’. Below is the transcript from the closing session.


The House I Live In - Documentary - Review

The House I Live In, directed by Eugene Jarecki, is a 2012 documentary film about the War on Drugs in the United States.

The 'War on Drugs' has been the longest war in the history of humankind. It has been fought for over 40 years. And yet - a judge can still snort cocaine off a hookers arse in all 50 states.
Drugs are still readily available and just as many people use them as they have in the past. To say the war has failed in its objectives is an understatement. A catastrophic and monumental failure, if the objectives where to reduce drug related harm. Furthermore the consequences of short sighted government drug policy has had a huge impact on the poorest and most vulnerable people.

For some people the 'War on Drugs' doesn't mean much. But just like the name suggests: its a war. However it's not a war on drugs but on people. Real people just like you and me. Families and whole communities are caught up and become victims to this "War". Lives are destroyed, families pulled apart, an entire generation of black men are being incarcerated. Children are growing up with one or more family member in jail.

This is the stark reality captured in the  thought provoking documentary titled The House I live In.
winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, in 2012.
For anyone sitting on the fence I suggest you watch this documentary. Educate yourself.



International Drug Users Day 1st November 2012

Did you know that there is an International Drug Users Day?
Yep that's right, we have a day - November the 1st.
One day a year that people who use drugs can choose to celebrate and commemorate  our lives, loves, challenges and choices. Its a day of celebration mainly- not a day to feel bad.
We have other days to focus on Overdose and HIV/AIDS but this is the one day for us and the good things about us . Unlike other days it's not about our ability to get sick and infect others or overdose and die and cause pain to our loved ones.

International Drug Users Day is one day where it is OK to be a person who uses drugs and to not have to apologise for it.

We already have mountains of guilt and shame projected onto us by those who seek to 'cure' us or 'rescue' us and we don't need any more excuses to feel bad about ourselves.
But we do need International Drug Users Day, our peers, our organisations and a chance to speak our truths and to be involved in the decision making that determines our futures.  Despite the ever mounting evidence to the contrary, people who use illicit drugs are still treated as somehow 'subhuman' and treated as 'other' and therefor stigmatised and discriminated against by the general population. Just as homosexuality used to be classified as a 'disease', drug use is still labelled an illness from which we need to recover.
Or do we?
We are complex individuals and our relationship with drugs is often complex. In an attempt to control us society has labelled us and categorised us as 'sick' or 'genetically predisposed to addicition' or 'deviant' and antisocial.
This is my 'truth'.....I for one do not buy into the disease model or theory. Sure people who suffer from mental health issues may also be self prescribing with substances - half their luck if they found something that works for them. Certainly people who use drugs have the same illnesses, diseases and disorders as the wider community.
But drug use in and of itself is not a 'disease'.

When asked, people who use drugs say they do so for two reasons.
To feel good.
To feel better.

So on International Drug Users Day do not let anyone tell you that you are sick or deviant or in denial.
You know who you are; someone who enjoys illicit drugs. Different drugs than the wider community.

You may not have realised that there is an International Drug Users Day and you may not realise you are not alone; all over the world there are Drug User Organisations, run by users for users.
In Australia you can link in through AIVL on a National Level or through the individual states Drug User Orgs. Internationally you can try google 'drug user organisation and your country or state or try INPUD (International Network of People who use drugs). Or leave me a message and Ill refer you.
Have a great day -


The "J" Word and who can use it.

I have been called a lot of things in my lifetime. Some good, some bad, some accurate,  and some unprintable but for the purpose of this blog I will say;
I have been called a junkie and I have been called 'Mum'
As someone who has even changed their name I understand more than most the power of language, and of choice. To be called and known by whatever name you chose and not to be defined by an outside source.

Lately there seems to be a bit of confusion around what is and what is not acceptable language to use when talking about people who use drugs, this may be in part to the reclaiming of the word 'Junkie'.
Just as the word 'Queer' was reclaimed by the gay community and is now a celebrated term,  the word 'Junkie' is making a bit of a comeback and being reclaimed by some people who use drugs (not all though).

WARNING ** However just like the word 'N****R' if you DO NOT IDENTIFY as a JUNKIE it is highly offensive to use the word. **

By the same token,if you identify as a person who uses drugs then you can use whatever terminology that you see fit, you can alternate terms and even change your mind - daily- it is your right.
But for the rest of you, even if someone identifies as a "person who uses drugs" and uses the word 'junkie' it does NOT give you the right to use the 'J' word.
 Some people use words without thinking of what they are actually saying. So put some thought into what your saying. Think about the impact your words may have on a persons sense of self and self worth.
If in doubt here are some common words and terms used and the preferred language.

It is NOT OK to say : Drug addict, drug user, junkie, smackie, addict, or any similar term
The correct term is: People Who Use Drugs.

It is simple, its not hard to remember.

This use of language identifies the person first and the action secondly.
It is generic and non-judgemental and is endorsed by INPUD (the International Network of People Who Use Drugs).
Any thoughts?


Interview with Morpheus Projects Lee Hertel (transcript) Part 1

Interview with Lee Hertel Director of Morpheus Project (pt 1)

(Freedom) Thanks for joining us today. I understand that you took over the position from Sue Purchase as The Director of Morpheus Project in Minneapolis earlier in the year.
Can I start by congratulating you on your promotion?

(Lee Hertel) Thank you, Freedom. I appreciate it. I was made Program Director of Morpheus Project this past winter. Sue remains the executive director.

Can you give me a ‘snapshot’ of The Morpheus Project, its history and it’s clientele?

Morpheus Project was started in 2010 and is a street-based syringe exchange/harm reduction/overdose prevention effort. We also provide limited advocacy and case management for a few of our participants.

Morpheus was born out of the closure of Minneapolis' first syringe exchange site, Access Works!, in 2009. Our clientele includes anyone who uses drugs but people who inject drugs are our core clientele. Along with that, let me say that we work with people who are homeless, those who do have housing, sex workers, gay men on the party scene – anyone who requests our services.

What is the political landscape like in the US at this point in time and what is the impact on people who use drugs, particularly those who inject?

Right now the political landscape is not favorable to people who use drugs, especially IDUs. As some of your readers may be aware, the U.S. had a policy of not allowing any federal dollars to be used for syringe exchange services. This had a crippling effect on programs that had to then rely on dollars st the state and municipal levels, as well as grants from private foundations and donations from individuals.

The syringe access ban is the main reason why the HIV infection rate among people who inject drugs was so high during the early years of the AIDS pandemic. Unlike the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. The ban was instigated during the Clinton Administration in 1988 and remained in effect until 2009. That year, the Obama Administration was successful in pressing for the ban to be lifted. The feeling of hope and the joy that precipitated cannot be underestimated. Finally, the U.S. Congress was legislating according to science, not fear mongering and ignorance.

Unfortunately, the ban was reinstated in 2012. The movement to reinstate the ban was spearheaded by the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party and its representatives in the House of Representatives, chief among them was John Boehner (R – Ohio) and Hal Rogers (R – Kentucky). Needless to say, the returned ban has hurt every SEP in the country. Many have had to slash their payrolls and shed all but one or two paid positions and rely very heavily on volunteers to meet the demand for their services.

Thankfully, activists and policy makers are not giving up and have already begun writing legislation to life the ban once again.


The War on Drugs is fuelling the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Urgent action needed.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy has just released its second report entitled:
 The War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS. How the criminalisation of Drug Use fuels the Global Pandemic.  


The Global Commission is comprised of 6 Former Presidents and other World Leaders (including Sir Richard Branson) and today released its report and urgent ten point plan.

To uphold the UN general assembly committment to reduce HIV rates amongst PWID by 50% by 2015 World Leaders must ACT URGENTLY.
In a first step we must acknowlege and address the undeniable link between the War On Drugs and the subsequent criminalization of drug use and drug users and the spread of HIV\AIDS.
The HIV epidemic continues to grow amongst people who inject drugs. Of the 16 Million people worldwide who inject drugs,1 in every 5 is HIV positive.

The first reccomendation from the commission is to end the criminalization of drug use.

This is key to the report.
The current UN single convention is over 50 years old and was written before the AIDS epidemic.