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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Recovery and Relapse (and recovery)

As of late, many of my emails have been questions about the nature of my recovery. Firstly, I would like to say that my recovery is relevant but ultimately you have to decide what works for you. There are a few contributing factors to my discontinuation of drug use. 1. No Veins 2. Poor overall physical health especially heart palpitations from stimulant use 3. My mental health was very poor 4. I was extremely socially isolated 5. DRUGS WERE NOT FUN ANYMORE. I was just using because that had become my life. I spent from 1990-1992 deep in hardcore drug use and alcohol abuse. I got to the place I really didn't know anything else besides the lifestyle. It seemed a huge stretch that I would ever go back into any semblance of a "normal life". But I feel like that is that negative self talk that permeates late stage addiction- the lack of hope.

Recovery as a concept is not just about abstinence. Abstinence is just one in many forms of recovery. The goal is to progress to the point where you have things you enjoy doing on a daily basis and your are a slave to the next fix. Trust me, if I thought I could smoke weed I would but that shit makes me paranoid and I'm already paranoid enough from low level PTSD. If you want to try abstinence, there is going to be some pain. Withdrawal is a physical and mental mind fuck. It takes a solid week to feel better in most cases. But/and it starts to get better fairly rapidly. MAT is a softer landing, especially if you intend to stay on it but if you ever taper, just know that physical bill comes due and you will get some shitty feeling and days. PAWS fucks us all unfortunately. The depression is real and it can be deadly.

It is should be known that relapses are pretty par for the course with opioid users. We are risk takers and like to test the waters a few times. This is pretty much the norm. Unfortunately, our treatment systems are still catching on and behind the times. Tossing mfers out over one relapse is still the standard. Now, that person feels guilt/shame AND is homeless. Also, at high risk of OD death.

Whatever you decide to do, be safe.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

What Do We Do With Our Dead?

What do we do with our dead?
And what do we do with the living?

We celebrate their lives when they have died from an overdose. Grieving families and friends produce pictures from high school. There are jackets that were rarely worn in images that were quickly taken in places that person would never go again. We celebrate the spirit of the person who was taken far too soon. Oh if only we could see them again.

What of the person who is addicted who is still living? A mile, or a block, or a city from your door. A text message that is not sent. A voice you are afraid to hear. Will they ask me for a thing or tell me a story that I am not able to take in? They would really like to see you. They would like for you to touch their shoulder blade as you assure them you will always love them.

What do we do with our dead?
And what do we do with the living?

Addiction can be the living death.
Addiction can be the cause of death.
Why- if it feels like no one loves you.

People who use drugs are people first.
Love us and love them and learn to love ourselves.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Opinions of Sheep

I've been robbed at knifepoint before over dope by a person I thought was a friend. I have been burned a few times. I certainly have degraded myself on a few hundred occasions. I've stolen from the til once or twice. I have even convinced myself that my lies were true, one of the biggest crimes of them all. This post isn't about what I did or did not do. It is about the life that I lead and the pain that it eventually caused me.

Women on the streets get abused. That isn't speculation. That isn't an observation. That is a fact. I was told that my pussy was a gold mine, a treasure chest that could supply a lifetime of drugs and money. IF ONLY, I had the right management. I certainly had to pass on that bargain basement line but I did get hooked up with a stranger who said we would be running partners. He wanted to "protect me". I have been alone so long, a momentary lapse, a "why not", has turned into decades of headaches on and off. It isn't just about the drugs. It can be about the choices you make or the passive way life overtakes you.

Men get abused. Fighting for a rung on the ladder of Chaos. The expectation is that you will provide a way. No one stopped to ask you how you got here. Just don't fall asleep without your shoes tucked firmly under your head.

Trans people get abused by the world that loves to hate them. Trans women taught me how to hold down a corner, flag down a date, and cry without smearing my eyeliner. A trans man taught me how to tape up my chest so no one could tell we actually had parts that inspire sexual violence at three am when you are sleeping all alone. We are all gender neutral when we have no periods, no orgasms, no food, and no will to live unless you want me to baby. That will be $20 extra.

I never meant to get hooked up with a sociopath. Who does? Also/and who had already been in prison for manslaughter (I found out later). I did believe him when he said he would kill me though. I absolutely knew it inside the little bit of intuition a heavy nod didn't take away from me. "It was the drugs", he told me as he handed a bunch of faded roses. I am not sure where he stole them but they won't reduce the swelling on my black eye. I toss them on the sidewalk. Why not? You are going to certain going to "make me pay" one way or the other.

This hostage situation was brief. The scars are lasting. A few broken noses, a chipped tooth, three years of restraining order lasting. The chorus of white men who wrote the big book didn't explain what to do when your abuser want to make you feel powerless again. Recovery is a journey and I'm walking home. Walking to a meeting one night, I encounter him again. "It was the drugs..." he tells me. I was walking home alone to my SLE. Sober living and torn up from trauma. When the past creeps up on the present, it may not come in the form of a broken needle or a baggie. It might just walk right up to you and introduce itself as a sheep among the wolves.

You may stop using. You might not.
You may die from an overdose. You may survive.
You may look back on this time, wondering "why".
Plan on living.
Plan on sticking around,

I have been traveling so much, I have been slacking. I am back writing again.