Saturday, June 30, 2018

When You Only Have One Syringe

From 1990-1991, I had one syringe. One.

What do you do when you only have one syringe?

I started using opioids IV in 1990. The first thing ever put in my veins was some kind of vicodin or perc shit show my friend had cold water extracted. He had one syringe. That he had inherited after a cocaine binge involving three other people. This was now mine/ours/the community syringe. He bleached it, a process that frequently dries out the runner plunger. That instrument was suspect from the day it first went in my arm. I used that same syringe for the next YEAR, unable to obtain a new one.

There was my first time trying heroin, a three day binge on morphine sulphate (involving friends), a few coke binges, more heroin. Same syringe. We would sharpen in on a match book. We would use lube from a condom. There were times we would bleach it. There were times we just cleaned it with water. It was essentially a fish hook that left me bruised and damaged. Yet it was so valuable, years later when I went home to visit, I found that same syringe hidden inside my belongings. I was THAT SURE I might never get another one. It was precious. It probably passed along the Hep C to me but I loved you gal.

It's 2018 now. In Cincinnati Ohio, where I am from, there is a very small syringe exchange program that began in the last few years. The rest of the state has limited access. BUT ISN'T IT LEGAL IN MY STATE? It might be but that doesn't mean the pharmacist is required to sell them. Hep C rates are rising all over the country. There are clusters of new HIV cases. I've been contacted by people paying $5 for a new one or more.

There is more work to do.

In the meantime, I strongly suggest buying a prepaid credit card and ordering a box online then dividing among friends if nothing else is available.

I love you. XOXO Tracey

I'm teaming up with Remio to do an overdose prevention event July 13 at Art Primo in SF





Tuesday, June 19, 2018

This Week In Harm Reduction: Self Care or Self Harm

Hello Readers:
I am trying a new format for a few months. I hope you will enjoy it.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. Being on the Today Show completely blew up my spot. Thank you to Jamie from Next Distro and Matt from Rebel Recovery Florida for helping me keep up with requests. More and More, my work is focusing on expanding a network of folks who want to do what I do- a mail based system to get harm reduction supplies to those who have no access. In the past few weeks, I answered thousands of messages and comments to the point I have some kind of stress related shoulder injury. I am excited that so many people wanted to weigh in on their love for people who use drugs and the need to expand services that help them. There were minimal shitty comments which is pretty unheard of when it comes to these topics. THAT gives me hope.

I love the fact that so many of you are just doing the damn thing. Passing on naloxone. Handing out syringes. You don't need a program and I love you for it. Take a box of syringes down to a homeless encampment. They will get to the right place. We are in this lifeboat together, fighting for our lives and the lives of people we love.

In the personal news, I'm trying to get my program of self care back on line. I'm a person with a long history of self harm as a coping mechanism. Cutting, eating disorders, and dysfunctional relationships have always been my go to when I am stressed. I am working away from my natural instincts and sitting with my feelings. I am not sure if I have mentioned it here but I started going back to 12 step meetings last year. It seems to be helping some. I am making a few new friends, which was desperately needed. I ignore any kind of cultish elements to focus on the positives, I also make sure to advocate for MAT and being accepting of those who are not abstinent at meetings I attend. Next year, I might not be interested but for now, I am trying this out again.

I have an event coming up at art primo in SF on July 13th. I'll be doing overdose education in cooperation with Remio's art show.

I'll be in West Chester Ohio July 5th at 7pm at the Mid Pointe Library

I also have a book reading next week outside of Monterey on the 28th of June.

Got all my health screenings today: HIV test, cholesterol, weight, iron, pap smear. 



Please excuse typos because I'm a hot mess.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

My Love for You is Endless

In the five years I have written this blog, I have written down a long series of depressing entries about my heroin addiction, my mental health, and the long uphill battle to stay off drugs. This isn't one of those posts.

Overall, my life is pretty fucking good. Let me explain. 

Every single goal I wrote on a piece of paper in rehab has been achieved. All of them. I have a cool relationship. I reunited with my family. I got my credit straight. I discharged probation. I got a good place to live. I finished school. I did all those things. 

I spent seven years on and off in therapy. Despite intermittent bouts of depression, my mental health is better than ever.

I have three great kids that love me. 

I woke up today in my bed. The blanket was clean. I was safe. 

I don't need a bunch of fancy things. I just need to appreciate the things I have. 
To be quite honest, heroin was probably the first real love of my life. I wasn't sure if I could live without it. It consumed me. I was fine with that, as long as we could be together. I truly never believed I could be without drugs. Now, I can't understand how I revolved my whole life around them. 

My love for you is endless. I may not always chose the right words, type the right things. I am not a great speller. I am not a masterful narrator. I keep this blog alive to let you know that this too will pass. That someone out there loves you. That people want you around. That you are needed.

You are fucking rad. The world needs you. 




Thursday, May 31, 2018

Thank you to my supporters (and my haters too)

We did it people! We got Harm Reduction on national television. There was a combination of non threatening sweaters, my cute kids, and life saving medication splashed across television sets while people ate their cereal. This, combined with hundreds of birthday messages, has made it a busy few days for me.

First of all, I want to thank all of the people who have trusted me to provide you with this service.

Secondly, I want to thank my friends and family who have put up with my obsession with saving lives for the past two decades.

Finally, I want to thank all of the strangers who have become friends by embracing this cause.

My main partner agencies are:
The National Harm Reduction Coalition
The DOPE Project
NEXT Distro
Rebel Recovery Florida
The Missouri Network for Opiate Reform In Recovery
Rebel Recovery Missouri
The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition

If you come in contact with any of these agencies, you are in good hands. There are additional agencies I work with but all of these agencies have assisted me in securing naloxone for local residents.

I am going to rest up and spend time with my kids this weekend then get ready for the next challenge.

XOXO Tracey

The Today Video



Wednesday, May 23, 2018

In Defense of Harm Reduction

This isn't a short story post or anything creative. This is about my morning.

I was invited to appear in a panel presentation this morning for an audience of approximately 200 folks. This was a criminal justice summit where the panelist were to be provided with questions around the current state of San Francisco's treatment landscape. I knew going in, it would be a tough crowd. I expected an audience of mostly probation officers and a few service providers. Instead, the place was packed to the walls with mainly service providers paid through local and state programs to work with people who use drugs and have criminal justice involvement. I expected a tough crowd. I was shocked by what I heard.

The official policy of San Francisco is HARM REDUCTION. It has been for close to two decades. Yet, I heard one provider say "we can't work with people until they are allllll the way clean" and another say extremely disparaging things about MAT while referring to the population as "dope fiends". Methadone apparently doesn't work because it didn't work for him. Insert eye roll here. Then, the idea that clients are taken advantage of sexually by treatment staff was dismissed. Readers, I was horrified. I am not exaggerating when I say, it took everything in my soul not to throw a chair across the fucking room. Everyone thinks I'm nice but trust me when I say, I was THIS close from saying some things that could have risked my job. Oh, I did mention they invited ME to this shit show.

I held my own. My colleague held his own. We got in facts over opinions under extremely challenging circumstances yet this is 2018- why are we having this conversation? Personal opinions should not dictate how clients are treated. I am tried and I am frustrated. Most of all, I am disappointment so much work needs to be done on my home court.

Excuse typos.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Voices Start Creeping In

My background music- My Solitude Billie Holiday

Mental Health issues are a pain in the ass.

Things have been going pretty well for me for a few weeks. I traveled a lot in March and April so I have been happy to park my ass in lawn chair to watch the kids play sports. I started going to a weekly meditation meeting. I reached out to some friends. I even got new phone numbers. Then, out of the blue, the dark cloud of mental health bullshit has been rearing it's ugly head. You know the drill.

Hi Anxiety.
No one wants to hear from you.
I'm so tired.
Why aren't they returning my text.
I want to stay in bed.
Obsess. Spin. Rinse. Repeat.
You are just a ______, why bother.

Yeah fuck this voice in my head. This is the same voice that told me I was never going to be anything besides a dope fiend, that I would die with a needle hanging out of my arm. It is hard when deep in the guts of addiction or in early recovery to tune that out. It gets even harder when I cut myself off from others. I don't even have to be alone. I can cut everyone off while surrounded by people. Isolation is a state of mind for me more than it is about any kind of geographic location.

I read forums. I see people in all stages with their relationships with drugs. For me, mental health issues was the piece I had been ignoring, suppressing, and medicating. That and a fear of people hurting me. The trap house isn't a good place to discuss my overall lack of coping mechanisms but I swear I remember having long conversations with people I consider friends about what I needed to do with my life. It was another person who used drugs that initially introduced the idea that *maybe* stopping everything would be helpful to me. And it was.

I am feeling like I can't depression nap my way out of this. I am going to have to spend some time really telling my brain to shut the fuck up and push forward. I am thinking positive things for you. Tell your voices to shut the fuck up. I give you permission and invite you to take care of yourself. You deserve it.

In case you didn't see the NBC Naloxone piece.