addiction, alternative, depression, independent, literature, opiate crisis, Uncategorized

Plastic Poppies & Blood: A Brief Insiders View of the Opioid Crisis

Back when I first kicked junk, in 2010 nobody knew what hydromorphone or fentanyl even were. People would just look at me confused. “Its like morphine but stronger.” I’d tell them. Back then I was almost exclusively snorting hydromorphone (I had a good source). Most everyone else was into oxy back then. They introduced Oxy Neo as an abuse-proof replacement for oxycontin tabs. While there are ways to prepare Oxy Neo for injection they are quite complicated and take a long time. Some, especially the First Nations worried that entire communities would go into withdrawal at once.

Cops want to stop junkies but junkies want to shoot up more. They have no limits, don’t give a fuck about safety and were dead set on getting their fix. Then came the old standard to save the day-heroin. It was and is cheaper than pills. The doctors stopped prescribing oxy due to the stigma around the name it and needed a replacement other than morphine. They found this in Dilaudid, or hydromorphone, a drug 5 times the potency of heroin, or fentanyl patches which is 100 times the strength.

Now its 2017 and people are dropping like flies. I always preferred hydromorphone because unlike H which is just a powder, hydromorphone came in little balls that were supposedly abuse proof. 30 seconds  with a mortar and pestle beg to differ, however the point is that these little balls are near-impossible to tamper with or replicate without a lab. Lacing them with fentanyl would be more trouble than it was worth. Not so for powdered heroin or easily pressed oxycodone tablets. They started showing up in overdose deaths all over North America. Fentanyl is cheaper to produce than heroin, easier to smuggle and can be made in a laboratory.

By the time I stopped shooting up fentanyl had all but replaced heroin in some places. It was even popping up in cocaine, a stimulant. Even worse were the reports of carfentanil being used as a cut, a thousand times stronger than morphine it was never used by humans until recently. Prior to that it was used for tranquilizing elephants. Shortly before stopping I was sold fentanyl-laced fake oxycontin as well as straight fentanyl. Even snorting a bit of it put me on the nod and I was seeing triple. Lucky for me I didn’t OD and voluntarily signed up for a suboxone program. I didn’t want to go down with the ship.

This isn’t about morals or strength of character-anyone can be an addict. I go to the clinic and see people older, younger, in suits and in construction boots, new mothers with babies. All levels of society, every race. Addiction affects us all. Now more than ever it is clear that we need to treat this epidemic as the health crisis it is, and stop placing blame on addicts. There should be more funding for education and expansion of clinics specializing in addiction treatment and a much expanded needle exchange system. People need to be aware of the other options available to them, such as methadone or suboxone, and a heroin maintenance program should be established as well as safe injection zones. These are proven methods and not only will they reduce ODs but they’ll lower the amount of blood borne diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis C.

Finally and most importantly opioid addicts, as well as their friends and family should always carry or have easy access to Naloxone. A single dose of naloxone will completely reverse an opioid overdose, even fentanyl. You can get kits at your local pharmacy at no cost so there really isn’t any reason not to have it around.

Jack Blare, 2017


The Next Great Depression

It’s kept quiet, ignored, even ridiculed. It’s something most people would rather not think about, but youth depression is a growing epidemic in North America. According to statistics Canada, over a quarter of a million youth have a major depressive disorder.

                  Many suffer in silence, too afraid or embarrassed to speak to anyone. The amount of youth with depression has been steadily increasing year after year, but no one has reached a solid consensus as to why. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies argue constantly about treatments and causes but there hasn’t been any final word yet. It is swiftly becoming the most common diagnosis in Canada, with the amount doubling in the past ten years.

                  Depression brings feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and misery. Depressed people don’t take enjoyment from every day things that used to bring grins to their faces, withdraw from social activities and often have thoughts of death and suicide. Suicide is the second most common cause of death for young people in Canada, and it’s an issue that the government does nothing to prevent. According to the Canadian Institute of Health Research for every youth that succeeds in killing themselves there are two hundred who try and fail.

                  There are many treatment options available for depression, including medication such as SSRI antidepressants, MAOI inhibitors, benzodiazepines, atypical antidepressants such as Wellbutrin or desipramine, anti-psychotics such as Seroquel (quetiapine), and in extreme cases electroshock therapy along with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) among many other psychiatric treatments. These can be expensive and potentially routes to take however, and many depressed people just don’t have the money to afford them. There are a wide variety of antidepressant drugs used to treat depression, we all see the adds on TV for Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil, and a plethora of other medications. Though doctors prescribe them to young people all the time, many of these drugs, including Pfizer’s ever-popular wonder drug Zoloft have been proven to actually increase the risk of suicide in people under the age of twenty. Doctors and drug companies are aware of these deadly side effects yet they still aggressively market the pills to doctors and patients, spending billions on advertising.

                  Feelings of helplessness and isolation go hand in hand with depression. Thankfully there are some options youth have to talk to people who will really listen to their problems without being judgmental. There is a teen helpline available for young people, and an adult version for those who need to talk to someone and for whatever reason don’t feel comfortable talking to their friends or family, as well as a suicide hotline for those who feel that they’ve run out of hope.

                  This second Great Depression is a major issue nowadays and it is not one that should be belittled or ignored. Chances are you, or someone you know suffers from some sort of psychological disorder, and it’s not something to be ridiculed or kept in the dark any longer. Mental illness isn’t something to be waved away with a miracle cure, but if we take it seriously, and actually listen to the stories of the people who’ve been affected by it, then perhaps a positive difference can be made.


-Tj Brown © 2014