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NYC Trailblazes Harm Reduction

It’s so hard for me to sit and read with passive objectivity when every day the internet isSIS flooded with new articles with the same old message – drug users are bad and we should let them die. I know I can’t change the thinking of the critical mass with a blog that in contrast, most people would repel far from before they read a single word. (Hmmm, maybe I should rethink my branding strategy to attract a larger audience? Food for thought…) Anyway, I could have posted one of those many news stories today, but you’ve read the same thing on this blog probably ad nauseam – both penned by me and penned by the press. So I thought I’d post the most positive bit of drug-related news I’ve seen this week. Seattle is one thing, a remote little hippy town tucked away behind a bunch of mountains, somewhere in the West hidden by California’s mass radiance and clouded (both literally and figuratively) with tales of bad weather. But New York City – that’s another story! Whether you pine for the pre-Giuliani NYC grime (fabled by Lou Reed) or are AWE-struck by the brilliance of modern engineering that is the new World Trades Center, it’s hard to ignore The Big Apple. It’s the center of global economics. The whole world looks to New York City for trend-setting in every regard. And now the mayor of New York is pushing to open not one… not two… but four Safe Injection Sites (SIS). Now, we all know that one city politician can’t do this alone, even if that city is New York. He’s going to need support. And only time will tell whether his enthusiasm will be infectious enough to wrangle that support. But even the mere act of starting the discussion is admirable to me. That puts harm reduction in the public eye. Not the travesty of addiction, not another public debate on whether we are worth saving, not more meaningless, cold stats about how riddled our country is with addicts. He’s not regurgitating problems, he’s offering a solution.

I don’t want to hype this story up more than I need to… but it’s basically the coolest thing to harm reduction happen since we landed on the moon (or did we…?) So without further ado…

De Blasio Moves to Bring Safe Injection Sites to New York City

Mayor Bill de Blasio is championing a plan that would make New York City a pioneer in creating supervised injection sites for illegal drug users, part of a novel but contentious strategy to combat the epidemic of fatal overdoses caused by the use of heroin and other opioids.

Safe injection sites have been considered successful in cities in Canadaand Europe, but do not yet exist in the United States. Leaders in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Seattle have declared their intention to create supervised sites, although none have yet done so because of daunting obstacles. Among them: The sites would seem to violate federal law.

The endorsement of the strategy by New York, the largest city in the country, which last year saw 1,441 overdose deaths, may give the movement behind it impetus.

For the sites to open, New York City must still clear some significant hurdles. At minimum, the plan calls for the support of several district attorneys, and, more critically, the State Department of Health, which answers to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The city sent a letter on Thursday to the state, asserting its intention to open four injection centers.

Although Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio are Democrats, they have engaged in a yearslong feud that has seen few examples of cooperation. Mr. Cuomo, who is facing an energetic primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon, has not said whether he supports injection sites, a popular cause among more left-leaning Democrats.

The plan calls for four sites to open after a 6- to 12-month period of outreach to the communities where they will be located. They would operate as pilot programs for a year.

At the sites, which would be called Overdose Prevention Centers, trained staff would be available to administer medications, such as naloxone, to counteract drug overdoses. Social workers would also be on hand to possibly counsel drug users in the hope that they could be steered into programs intended to help them with their addiction.

The sites would be financed and run by nonprofit groups authorized by the city, and may be located within social service providers that already operate needle exchange sites.

The mayor’s office said that the centers would be located in Washington Heights and Midtown West in Manhattan; the Longwood section of the Bronx; and Gowanus, Brooklyn.

“After a rigorous review of similar efforts across the world, and after careful consideration of public health and safety expert views, we believe overdose prevention centers will save lives and get more New Yorkers into the treatment they need to beat this deadly addiction,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement.

Mr. de Blasio has faced pressure from activist groups who support safe injection sites, and who have staged demonstrations at City Hall that have included civil disobedience, with numerous protesters, including City Council members, arrested.

But even as the mayor unveiled his plan, he seemed to be doing so at arm’s length. On Thursday morning, he held a news conference on the sunny Brooklyn waterfront to discuss ferry service, with no mention of the injection sites.

City Hall officials refused to make Mr. de Blasio available for an interview; the earliest he could answer questions about the plan would be Friday, in his weekly appearance on New York Public Radio.

The plan is based on a report commissioned in 2016 by the City Council and pushed by the Council speaker, Corey Johnson, when he was chairman of the health committee. The report was completed months ago but its release was delayed by City Hall as the mayor weighed his decision.

“This is ultimately about saving lives while we have a major opioid crisis in New York City and around the country,” Mr. Johnson said on Thursday, after speaking with Mr. de Blasio about the proposal.

The letter sent on Thursday from Deputy Mayor Herminia Palacio to Howard A. Zucker, the state health commissioner, asked him to authorize or license four injection sites. The letter said that Dr. Zucker had the authority to permit such sites if they were part of a “research study.”

“You are authorized to license research studies that may include the possession of controlled substances,” the letter said. It cited as a precedent the authorization by the state health commissioner of needle exchanges in the early 1990s. Those exchanges began as an effort to halt the spread of H.I.V. among drug users who shared needles.

The state health department said that it would review the city’s request. “We of course support the mission of reducing opioid-related deaths and have been studying multiple options for combating the opioid epidemic,” Gary Holmes, a spokesman, said in an emailed statement.

The most serious obstacle to the safe injection sites may be the federal government. A section of federal law known as the crack house statute makes it illegal to own, rent or operate a location for the purpose of unlawfully using a controlled substance.

The enforcement of the statute in the case of safe injection sites, however, would be up to the discretion of federal authorities. While it is unclear how the Trump Justice Department will respond to the city’s proposal, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has taken a hard line on drug policy.

“We don’t believe a president who has routinely voiced concern about the national opioid epidemic will use finite federal law enforcement resources to prevent New York City from saving lives,” Eric F. Phillips, the mayor’s press secretary, said in a written statement.

Advocates for the sites point out that needle exchanges were considered illegal when they began, and they are now commonplace; in 2015, for example, when Mike Pence was governor of Indiana, he put aside his moral opposition to needle exchanges and allowed a program to stem the flood of H.I.V. cases.

There were 1,441 drug overdose deaths in New York City last year, according to a study commissioned by the City Council, an increase from 1,374 deaths in 2016. Officials have said that more people die of overdoses in New York than the combined total of deaths by murder, suicide and vehicle crashes. In data for the first nine months of 2017, Brooklyn, the most populous borough, had the greatest number of overdose deaths with 260. The Bronx, with a smaller population, was second with 250.

Click on the link below for the followup article…

De Blasio’s Plan for Safe Injection Sites Faces Many Hurdles

Ask a Junky – Cold Water Extraction

This is a question I’ve been asked a lot lately and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long toCold Water Extractionaddress it. Honestly, I thought I had already posted about it. But going through my archives, I realized I haven’t. I feel like I should have put this up a long time ago! I apologize for my neglect!

A cold water extraction is done with pills that are a mixture of opiates like hydrocodone or oxycodone and other drugs, usually acetaminophen (Tylenol) but sometimes aspirin or NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen. In this example, I’m going to use Tylenol, since it’s the most common drug found in prescription drugs like Vicodin, Norco or Percocet. Cold water extraction is done to maximize the amount of opiates that can be absorbed orally, while avoiding the negative side effects of acetaminophen which can cause serious damage to the kidney when taken in large doses. The max dose of extra strength Tylenol you should take per day is eight. And let’s be honest, anyone with a serious pill habit consumes much more acetaminophen then that on a daily basis. Some people take an extraordinary number of pills per day. It’s not unusual to hear of people taking 10, 20 even 30 or more codeine or hydrocodone based pills in a day and almost all of them contain acetaminophen. I’ve heard of several stories where people were hospitalized and told that they were lucky to still be alive with the amount of pills they were taking daily. They thought it was because of the amount of opiates they were taking. But the truth is, it was the amount of acetaminophen that their liver had to metabolize. The amount of acetaminophen in drugs like Norco is going to kill you a lot faster than the opiate. And unfortunately, acetaminophen is one drug they can not pump out of your stomach. The goal here is harm reduction. I’m not encouraging pill addiction. But reality is reality. If you are going to engage in dangerous activity, at least be safe about it. Cold water extraction is the safest way to engage in your pill addiction without damaging your kidney. And it’s not that complicated or time consuming. Disclaimer: No amount of liquid extracted in a cold water extraction is safe for injection. There is always trace amounts of undesirable drugs or binders left behind in the liquid. Never inject a cold water injection! Always drink the solution left behind. I repeat. NEVER INJECT A COLD WATER INJECTION!

Now that that is out of the way, here is the process:

  1. Crush up all tablets in a zip lock until they are a fine powder.
    Pour the powder into a shallow bowl and stir into about a half cup of warm sink water, NOT HOT WATER. If you use hot water you risk destroying the opiate molecules which would ruin your extraction and waste your pills.
  2. Gently stir your mixture until it is as dissolved as you can get it.
    Let it sit for about 15-20 minutes, so it starts to dissolve. You can stir it gently every 5 minutes or so. Make sure it is completely dissolved and cooled to room temperature. This is very important.
  3. Once cooled to room temperature and dissolved completely, put the container into the freezer. No lid required. You do not want to rush this process. This is where all the magic happens. It will probably take about 20 minutes, maybe 25. You want the mixture to be extremely cold, but definitely not frozen, or again, you risk destroying the opiate molecules.
  4. Now it’s time to filter your mixture. Most people have coffee filters, but I prefer cheese cloth. Cheese cloth doesn’t break and you can place it over a much wider service. And when you triple layer the cheese cloth you get just as fine a filtration as a coffee filter, especially when you do a triple filtration. I always have cheese cloth because I like to make my own queso fresco. But if you don’t have cheese cloth, a coffee filter works fine too.
  5. Place your filter on top of a glass with a wide mouth and secure it with a rubber band. The key is to make sure you don’t break the filter. you can also place the cheese cloth completely over a colander and place it over a glass bowl.
  6. Slowly pour the solution over the filter and into the glass. You will see the separation happen as the liquid runs through the filter and into the glass, the solid substance will separate and stay on top of the filter. That is the acetaminophen. The liquid is the codeine.
  7. If you like, you can pour a little bit of water over the solid substance to make sure you get out all the codeine on top, but you don’t have to. You may just be washing in extra bits of acetaminophen you don’t want as well.
  8. Now you can safely drink your cold water extraction! You’ve safely eliminated almost all of the harmful levels of acetaminophen from your codeine. Your kidney will thank you. The substance will be bitter to drink, but it will be worth it. If you’d like, you can mix it with some juice, but I don’t find it necessary.

Again, I am not encouraging taking enough pills that you require a cold water extraction, but if you do, be smart about it! Two kidneys are better than one and no one wants to have an organ transplant! Do your body and your kidneys a favor and perfect the art of cold water extractions.

The Arrest

I’ve always been a little too laissez faire when it comes to my drug use. I mean, let’s face it. I have a web site that blatantly shows me shooting heroin with no regard. I make it a point to put my business out there, to make a stand to show the world what an epidemic opiate use is and to fight the stigma against it’s use. So I tend to be a little cavalier. I don’t blend in. I stand out when copping drugs in places like skid row in my signature thigh high socks, fedora and clothes that don’t fit the surrounding “norm”. My race doesn’t help me blend in either. The only thing that marks me as a junky are my undeniable track marks covering my arms and neck. So no one has a problem selling to me. That and I have the “look”. One junky knows another. And I frequent these seedy places. So sometime standing out has its advantages. On the flip side, it also draws the wrong attention. If the locals recognize me, even the ones I don’t do business with, so do the police.

Let’s start back in summer of 2015 when my raid happened. I posted about it, for those of you who remember – The Worst Summer Ever. I won’t repeat myself. But it was terrible. I was held in suicide watch for a week, let go on OR and was required to report for arraignment and subsequent judgment and then sentencing once I copped to a plea with my co-defendant. Well, when it came to my sentencing, I got nervous. I should have taken the time, I would have served a few weeks at the most, but I was naive when it came to jail at that time, and I was nervous. Bottom line, I went on the lam. I had a couple of close calls with the cops, I used my sisters name and never got in too much trouble. I was actually on the run for over a year, frequently visiting places I should have never been. I got cocky. I spent lots of time in dope houses, homeless camps, seedy street corners, I was cavalier. I thought I was invincible. I was living in a nice home in Beverly Hills. I thought if I turned myself into a rehab before they got to me, and then turned myself in they would squash the whole thing and I would be square in the eyes of the law. I had good intentions to check into a rehab. I looked up the best insurance to find the cushiest rehab I could find. I lived very nicely. I did a lot of dope. I thought they wouldn’t find me until I decided to take care of it. Meanwhile my co-defendant served his two year sentence in full and was released. I was still on the lam.

During this time I was buying meth from someone who lived in one of Los Angeles’ most seedy areas, notorious for drugs and illicit activity, 3rd and Bonnie Brea, I was also selling some coke for him at the time. I was over there on an almost nightly basis. One night I hopped in a Uber and like every other night, dressed in my typical garb, headed over to his house. I pulled up around the corner, jumped out of the car and rang his heavily guarded, gated door bell and announced myself. As I waited for someone to come down and open the gate, the red and blue  lights came up behind me. I hopped someone would come down before the police would jump out of the car and lock me safe behind the gate, but I knew as they saw in the camera that the cops were there that there was no chance of anyone letting me in.

I was told they were looking for people with warrants that night and that I stuck out like a sore thumb in that neighborhood. They actually scanned my face with this new technology and knew who I was before I even gave them my name. They knew what my warrant was for and they cuffed me right away. After putting me in the car, chaos broke loose. There was a shooting a few blocks away and I went a long for the ride. They didn’t really have anything to do durning the chase because about 50 other cop cars showed up to track this guy down so we shot the shit for about two hours. Afterwards, a strange thing occurred. I guess the cops liked me. They questioned why I was there. Obviously they knew I was there to buy drugs. They were given a tip from someone they had picked up earlier. I didn’t give them any information. But they let me go home, they drove me home that is, with the understanding that they would pick me up in the morning to go see my judge. I agreed and followed up with my word. The next morning they showed up and took me to court. I was hoping the judge would have mercy on me since I showed up with the cops and turned myself in. He did not. I was remanded from court. I was still hoping I would get a program instead of jail time, but I made a critical mistake that I didn’t realize yet. Not until I was searched after being remanded.

I was pretty high when the cops picked me up. I mean, wouldn’t you be? When I went into the court house I had a huge vaporizer with me, I mean really being, a monster three battery vaporizer. The security guards were all distracted by it. They ran my purse through the scanner and it was the first thing they saw and immediately jumped on it. They clearly didn’t notice anything else. They kept questioning me about it and eventually took it from me. They didn’t even bother checking anything else in my bag. When I got into the court room, I was confident that I was going to be going home again, being sentenced to a program, and given another court date on my own recognizance. The cops flanked me the whole time.

Once I was remanded (and after trying to run out of the court room, I might add) my property was thoroughly searched. It was then I realized what a huge error I had made. Not only did I have syringes, a massive amount of drugs which I could have hooped (I could have brought in over a gram of heroin and a gram of meth each, not to mention the pills and GHB I could of drank before going in), I had a large knife, a monkey paw on my key chain (illegal in California), a center punch and a very large taser, which was illegal for a felon to have, let alone illegal for me to bring into the court room. It did not go over well. As my dad said later, “You just don’t make very good decisions when you’re high.” There wasn’t any chance of me getting a program. My next court date was scheduled for a month later, which gave me some time to get my head around what awaited me. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be charged with the weapons or not. So I had to be prepared for anything from two to four years. But it wasn’t going to be less. Of that I was sure.

During my next court date, the judge read a long list of disrespectful offenses that I had enacted over the course of the 13 visits to his court room. It was not flattering. My heart sunk as he kept reading. I knew I was in trouble. His final verdict: probation violation. Two years prison time, but to be served in county jail. A California state law called AB109. It’s due to overcrowding in prisons. Nonviolent crimes are now served in county jail rather than prison although some say it’s a much tougher place to do such a long sentence since there is no outdoor area and less perks. Although it is half the time, so you do one year on a two year sentence. Okay, after preparing myself for up to four years, I could handle that. And no probation afterwards. It could have been a lot worse. He wasn’t that harsh after all. I could do this.

As I got back on the bus heading to Century Regional Detention Facility, or better known in local parlance as Lynwood, L.A. county women’s jail, I started my first stint of real “time”. I had done a month here, two months there, but now I was to do a year. I knew it wasn’t going to be the easiest year of my life. But I didn’t have a choice. It was what it was. It sounds corny, but I’d make the best of it. And at least I’d have some stories to tell. And boy… do I.

But those stories are for another time. This is just the beginning. Stay tuned!

Peace, Love & Rock ’n Roll!

D_D

Where Do I Begin????

Boy oh boy readers! How do I even begin to recap the past year? Jail? Forced Rehab? Voluntary Rehab? Jail Redux? New Jersey? Cold Turkey Recovery? Medicated Recovery? Relapse? Nay- Chronic Relapse? Plans for the future? I think it best to break this down into a series of individual blog posts to best capture the full essence of each individual experience. Why, there is so much to tell! And so many juicy stories!

I hate to give away spoilers, but let’s look at it as a story told from the ending first. As I type this, I am in New Jersey, on a brief leave from California. Although not permanent, I plan to stay at least a couple of months, until my sister delivers her new baby, her forth kid yet first girl. I am clean off of heroin, but on Suboxone maintenance. In full disclosure, this is only day eight of my clean time. I am coming off a month an a half run, following 88 days of voluntary clean time, albeit in a treatment center. I got a sponsor, worked the steps, the whole nine yards. I was treatment for a total of four months, the first three on ankle monitor, thanks to overcrowding in L.A. county jails. The first of those months, I brought with me my jail mentality and resisted tooth and nail, every step of the way (READ: was not clean). The previous seven months I was at Century Region Detention Facility, better known to Los Angelinos as Lynwood (L.A. county women’s jail) where I ran a total muck and am lucky I am not serving time upstate now for some very serious add charges (READ: definitely was not clean and made sure none of my friends were either). So I’ve been back and forth, chronically repeating between using and clean time. It’s been a wild ride. But an immense growing experience. I never thought that I would go through such dedication to being clean and sober. And then suddenly, without any indication, relapse without warning. Truth be told, I loved my time clean and turned down any medicated assistance when offered to me. A choice I question now since it might have saved me from quite a catastrophic relapse. Although that retrospective grass does seems greener, who knows. I might have still made the same choice since my decision to use again was definitely made due to a reflex and not a physical craving.

But all these stories will unravel over time. I’ll start from the beginning and try not to make it too drawn out. I’m happy to be back in a place where I have plenty of time to write, my own computer and am not in jeopardy of going back to jail or rehab, lol! You have no idea how much I missed writing. My new email address for those who wish to contact me is phishconaut@gmail.com. I can’t believe I can no longer access deemsterdiva!!! Makes me so sad 😦 But such is life. I’m just glad to have access to this blog again. Hit me up. As always…

Peace, Love & Rock ‘n Roll!

Deemster_Diva

Guess What? I’m Not Dead!!

Oh my beloved readers!!!! I have been trying to access this site forever!! I’m going to keep this post short and sweet because there is just too much to write right now. BUT… I wanted to let you all to know that I am alive and well. After spending the entire last year incarcerated and then in rehab, I have so much to catch you up on! I’ve missed running this website more than you can imagine. Stay tuned for new posts to start very shortly! Unfortunately, I still can’t access any of my old email accounts, which is strange because I never changed my passwords. But now that I can access my website again, all that comes secondary. Anyway…. as I said, short and sweet. I’ll be working on updates, improvements and a repairs to this site just as fast as I can. The last year has been a wild ride… full of just the mayhem, craziness and pandemonium you’d no doubt expect. But also, after four months in rehab, I have a whole new outlook on recovery too. So stay tuned!

Peace, Love & Rock ‘n Roll!

D_D