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Showing posts from 2017

New Year? Yes New Me? Not So Much

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2017 is about to be over. The American life expectancy is down for yet another year as a direct result in the rise in opioid deaths. Rates of Hep C are up. In terms of Harm Reduction, it's not too far off from what I was dealing with as a new IV drug user in 1990. Lack of clean syringes, deaths, and the government sitting on their fucking hands instead of acting.

Last year, under the Obama Administration, I got uninvited to a White House committee because there were some concerns that some of my views were controversial. A year later, under a new Administration, Harm Reduction is vilified as enabling. They are seriously considering bring back JUST SAY NO. This makes me nauseous. There is scientific evidence of interventions that work in opioid use and abuse. We have a mountain of evidence on the efficacy of syringe exchange. Yet, we have science deniers pushing the idea that abstinence is next to Godliness. I can't even listen to this rhetoric anymore. It's wrong. It's…

Fuck the Holidays 2017 Edition

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I've sold my holiday gifts for dope.
I got arrested for prostitution of Christmas Eve.
I've spent New Year's Eve in Jail kicking dope.
(all true)

For those of us with substance use and depression issues, the darkest days of winter are not always filled with Holiday cheer. It is important to remember our fellows struggling just to make it through the day. I cannot even describe to another human how tough it was for me to make it though many winter months. The cold combined with both a dope habit and my living conditions made me contemplate suicide many days. Plus, there are just logistical issues- not being able to find veins in the cold, drug dealers who want to be with their families on holidays, and separation from family on my never ending bag chase.

In 2017, fortunately enough, my mental health has been in a fairly decent place. I'm not spending the weekend in bed curled in a fetal position. I consider myself pretty lucky because I actually have been in that place …

I am personally grateful for harm reduction

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My best friend relapsed on heroin this year. It wasn't something I ever could have planned for, it was wasn't something I was expecting, it wasn't a thing I wanted in my life. I haven't told the full story. I am not sure I want to at this point. I do want to make a few comments.

I chose to stay with this person through the process. That was MY choice. They decided they wanted to get help. That was THEIR choice. I provided love and encouragement while I cried myself to sleep a few different nights.  It was a turbulent few months, mostly because I truly was expecting the unanswered text messages and RIP on his social media that let me know he was gone. I'm new to the friend circle so no one would have gone out of their way to notify me. He and I met on instagram. The old friends probably didn't know I existed.

It was in an insulated world for many months. I didn't want to tell anyone close to me. I didn't want to hear judgment. I didn't want to answer…

The Water's Edge

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There is a moment in every day when we chose to either succumb to the incredible mystery that is life without drugs or inflict self injury in the form resistance against our truths. I don’t know if I was born with the desire to use drugs. I don’t know if I evolved into an individual that needed solace in the chemical expression of happiness. I just know that once I began ingesting them, my life changed forever. I can never put the cork back in the bottle. I can never unsee the horrors unveiled in the life of drug user living on the streets of any major city. I can only strive to find a way to balance the past, the present, and plan for a future I want to live in. “Why didn’t you meet me for lunch that day?” I asked.  I push my food around on the plate. There is always an awkward moment when I first meet people when I am not sure who they think I am. Am I an addict to them? A mom? An aging woman stuck with many of the same interests as a twenty year old. Despite many years of recovery,…

Things I would Like You to Know

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Twenty years ago, I was sitting alone in my dingy hotel room wondering what the fuck I was going to do with my life. This was captured in "Black Tar Heroin:The Dark End of the Street". I was using cocaine, speed, and heroin on a daily basis with booze and benzos sprinkled in there for effect. I was using money my mom sent my to pay my rent ($30 a day or $150 a week) while I sold drugs on the street for low level Mexican cartel guys to support my habit. It was dangerous. I was withering away as pretty much all my free time was spent digging for veins in my feet, hands, or stomach. Up to an hour per hit 4-6 times a day. My boyfriend had left me in search of greener (browner?) pastures. I was fucked up and alone. My last chance at quitting was methadone, which I had messed up by shooting dope on top of my dose instead of giving it a chance. I quit the clinic at 50-60mg (not sure the exact dosage as I was on a blind dose). That was Dec 1997.

I quit all drugs when I was 27, almos…

The Dandelion Boy

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Before I knew what it meant to be happy, I knew what it was like to have a feeling of dread.

There might have been a “happy” in the time before my current memories. I could be lurking in the shadows underneath the scars created by a metric ton of heroin and an ocean of booze. That “happy” was not verbal, it was not a thing that could be summarized in words. That happy was an innocent notion of life, a belief that all things were possible. That happy involved sandboxes. That happy involved walking barefoot. That happy was lovingly handing over a flower. Happy was before consciousness. my father informed me that a dandelion was a weed. Up until that point, I had believed. I had believed I was holding the ability to make my dreams come true right in the palm of my hand simply by scattering parts of the “flower” in the cooling breeze of fall.

There are a thousand poems to describe what beauty means. None of them adequately describe you. I reach out to hold your hand. You interlock our fin…

The Junkbox and the Holiday Season: A survival Guide

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Whether you are sober, actively using, or in between this can be a tough time of year for us. So many expectations and forced interactions are upon us. Here are some basics:

1. If you are actively using, plan ahead. Yes, I know that sounds impossible but actually plan ahead. As a person who been ripped off AND dope sick on both Thanksgiving and Christmas, you don't want this to be you. Get a few sub strips as a backup. Dopeboys take holidays too (dirty mfers). I strongly suggest not trying out new dope on these actual days. Nothing spoils the season like ODing in the family bathroom. Get naloxone as a present to yourself.

2. If you are feeling suicidal, tell someone. Call a hotline. Find some online meditations on youtube. Listen to podcasts. Go to a support group for the social element. Even if you feel they are judgy and full of shit, getting out can be a good thing. Set up a tune appt with your provider if the season generally does you in. Keep a journal.

3. If you are on MAT, …

New Podcast

http://traceyh415.libsyn.com/episode-one-truth-or-consequences-0 is the link to my new podcast. I hope you enjoy it.

A lesson in gratitude for this writer

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Last night was the holiday party for the clients from my job. One of the programs is designed for Trans Women of Color, many of whom are HIV positive. On Friday nights, the group assembles in the conference room of agency located on a strip where I spent much of my time as an actively using addict. We had a special holiday dinner for the ladies- turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy, rolls, and peach cobbler.The ladies really enjoyed themselves, we had gifts and leftovers available. It was a brief respite from whatever goes on in the outside world. 

 On my break, my coworker and I decided to get some air. Out front of the building, we heard some noise coming from the corner. In true former street people style, we decided to investigate. There was a cluster of people getting high half way down the block in the alley. While that wasn't my alley, the alley where I lived, this whole area was fairly familiar territory. The coworker and I decided we would deliver whatever excess …

The Day I tried to Kill Myself

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The day I tried to kill myself was like any other day. I didn't wake up thinking this is the day I want to die. I didn't put my affairs in order. I didn't have a special meal. I said no special goodbyes. The day I tried to kill myself was like any other ordinary day in the 365 days of that year.

There is a certain finality about knowing you are dependent on a substance. Be it heroin or coke or alcohol or speed or benzos. Or in my case, all of the above. When it finally sinks in that you will never escape the grip of addiction, it is a sad fucking day. My brain truly betrayed me. It lied to me saying this would never COULD never happen to me. Yet it did. When I looked at the decaying state of what used to be my young body, I did not feel a thing. I could not feel a thing. I just knew I would never escape.

The day I tried to kill myself, I did not cry. I did not falter in any way. I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do. I did not want to feel that psychic pain any longer. If the…

The drug using sex worker and "me too"

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I was a sex worker. When I say “Me too” does that count? Am I a good enough victim in that narrative. When you are a sex worker, the vast majority of people don’t believe you can be raped. When you are a sex worker, the people you are supposed to turn to for support are the same people pushing their badge to the side trying to get freebies. I got dropped off on the side of the road in the middle of the warehouse district because I said “take me to jail” rather than providing “something as a public service”
When you are a drug dependent sex worker, the landscape is even more bleak. Taken to jail on a friday for a misdeameanor case when there is no court until Monday as a form of punishment. Sitting in a pool of your own vomit with no medical care available since you have not been processed. No regular bed, just a bench in a holding tank for two days. Just anyone can come up and grab my pussy because you “can’t rape the willing”. Watching the connection scurry everyone away because he EX…

The Big Fix

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The time I almost lost my leg

"Shooting up dope with grape crush wasn't all that cool..." I told the doctor in matter of fact tone  "in fact, it was downright foolish" I don't know why I was trying to let the doctor know I wasn't completely unaware of the situation I got myself in.

Before he pulled back the makeshift bandage, I began to brace myself for the smell. I pulled up my leggings which were currently sticking to the gauze by means of dried puss that had formed an organic bacterial glue. I knew it was all bad underneath there, I just could not gauge how bad. My lower leg was no longer swollen. I had been smart enough to trade a cotton for a bottle of antibiotics. That wound- the wound was not healing.

The doctor started to examine the area "Can I cut this off?" He waved over his assistant, a person I assumed was a nurse. He was pointing to my sock which was equally encrusted to my skin. There was no way to extricate it without pulling off scabs. As he poured cold sa…

The Junkie Rockstar I've Been Striving to Be- Guest Post by Anee

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How did i get here? How did this happen to ME? How did i end up walking down market street with all of my belongings in my high school varsity swim bag essentially homeless? well, i’m a junkie who couldn’t stay sober. i kept getting high in my sober living and they kicked me out when all the spoons went missing. then i kept nodding out during the house meeting to discuss said missing spoons. apparently i don’t have a very good poker face.... i needed to find that residential hotel i had heard about. i think i saw it on craigslist. i knew this was coming for a while now so i’ve been prepared....it feels like everyone is looking at me. do they all know? i’m torn, a part of me is excited. i’m finally free. no one to answer to. i can do what i want when i want. i can use in the open. leave my shit out if i want. no more hiding and faking this sobriety bullshit. and let’s be clear, it IS bullshit. i am finally the junkie rockstar i’ve been striving to be. then the other part, the part that…

The Chill.

I see my breath. I'm surrounded by the chill in air. The frost clings to the blades of grass like the memory of the last day I touched your hand. I was distracted by your dirty fingernails, bitten down to the beds. I wore your sweater yesterday. It smelled faintly of flowers. It reminds me of you. The wool irritates me, just like our petty arguments. The forty pounds you lost and gained and lost the last time you relapsed made just enough room.

There is a gnawing inside my chest. My heart is pounding to get outside. The ribs spread to form a bony prison, keeping me from you. My lungs fill without my consent. I don't want to spend another day wondering where you are- this ache known our separation. I'll hate myself for another sleepless night.

There is a chill in the air. I am spending another night sweating. Sticking to the sheets like unwrapped  candy to the sidewalk on a hot summer day. I am sweet and easily discarded. Two users in love.

Fall

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I have been traveling a lot, trying to use my personal story to help others. I'm typing this on my phone so forgive me in advance . 
It's fall now. My kids need me to be home. I need to catch up on carepackages, apply for funding, and just focus on keeping my mind right. I'm not going to lie to kick it, for whatever reason, the winter months give me a wave of depression. My mother really loved the holidays. She would do the whole house with decorations. She had decorative sweaters, decorative jewelry and pins. I have never embraced anything as much as she embraced the holiday season.  
Winter as a homeless junkie sucked beyond measure. The SF Bay Area in my specific corridor doesn't really get "seasons" per se. It's more 10 days of heat, dry, cold/foggy, and rain. The rain when you live outside is inescapable. There are only so many sheltered spots in my general area. Those are highly coveted and physically defended. The average person might stay awake on r…

Walking with my Co Worker

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I was walking through the Tenderloin today with one of my co-workers, another person who used to use drugs. I try to run my thoughts through the "is this appropriate filter" but that filter fails when I traverse certain blocks. Here is where I used to sleep outside. This is where the male hustlers used to pick up dates. This is the door well where I sat frozen for few hours after I shot up MDMA mixed with LSD. This is where my ex boyfriend carved A + T in a heart. That boyfriend died of AIDS. This is where I had someone overdose me on meth to try to rape me. I later pressed charges but the statute of limitations on sexual assault was two years at the time. Here is where I turned a trick for twenty dollars then lied to my boyfriend about it (so he wouldn't have to turn a trick). Here is where I used to sell drugs. This is were I used to beg for them when I was dope sick. These were the hotels that kicked me out when my boyfriend used to beat me up. This is the last place …

When You Overdose...

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When you overdose...There will be nothing left for US. I promise I will hug your mother. I'll check on her too or at least I think I will. Your friends are all going to tell stories- good ones and not so good ones. They're angry. We don't understand. We're sad. My sweater won't smell like you for long. It will fade- like the memory of the last time i saw your face. Don't worry, someone will adopt your dog. Did you think about them? When your boyfriend/girlfriend starts fucking someone new, I'll assure them that enough time has passed. What was filled with love is now just there passing time- until the grief subsides.

The Best You Can Hope For

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"I want him to crawl inside my skin..." I reach for my Arizona Ice Tea. I feel like I swallowed sand paper or razor blades. I went to the free clinic yesterday. They told me I had a two for one infection- strep throat and an abscess. Trying to wash down these horse pills known as antibiotics on an empty stomach is just too fucking much.

My girl is nodding next to me. She looks pretty tonight. Her hair is pulled back into a pony tail, a scarf covers up her exposed skin. Her dress is a sort of black crushed velvet, tight at the waist. Her sugar daddy liked to show her off. She wipes her makeup and lipstick off with some alcohol pads. Our dealer met her in the lobby of the hotel. He knew EXACTLY what time she was going to return. I think he still had hopes she would date him again. She promised me she would never be that desperate. A one time thing is what she told me. I almost believed her.

We put all of our money together on a gram and a hotel room for the night, leaving noth…

Social Isolation and Overdose.

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I got a message this week from someone who I've never met. That isn't unusual. I get lots of messages and I try to answer all of them. What was unusual was more the content of the message. Essentially the person said I was the only person outside of his dealer that knew he was using heroin. They knew nothing about me really except they thought I might be a person who would care.

That fucked me up family. NO ONE KNOWS you are using heroin except your dealer? That person is at SUCH high risk of dying alone from a fentanyl overdose. It made my heart hurt. Also, thinking about the feeling of keeping a secret like that from everyone in your life. So much stigma attached to heroin use. You can go to any club on any weekend and see people freely blowing lines of coke. Heroin makes a person a social outcast where people feel it is necessary to hide the valuables. This person works, is attractive (from what I can see in pics. I'm not trying to look too hard), has so many "thin…

Fuck Love

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"Fuck love," I told him "I don't need love when I have drugs." I rolled back over.

I could feel his leg shaking on the bed, a combination of anger and betrayal.
"Why did you do that Tracey," he gently turned me towards him "why would you let someone take my check?" I turned my back to him again. I don't feel like talking anymore. My sugar daddy came through with the $200 I begged/borrowed/lied for. I was celebrating- can't you tell?

I was high. High as fuck. The type of high where there really was no point in asking me anything that involved reality. The truth was not going to come out of my mouth. I didn't take his check, I reasoned to myself. I didn't profit in any way. Someone else took it so what did it matter to me...

He started getting louder "why didn't it matter to you?" He asked as if I cared "Because it wasn't YOURS. Because I thought we still meant something to each other?" That was his …