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Sex work is work, just like coal mining, professional sports and literally any job that involves physical labor. So why is a show about drugs interested in sex work? For starters, there’s a lot of overlap in terms of harm reduction services that help people who use drugs and sex workers. Unfortunately, these services can be criminalized and weaponi…
 
We’re truly living through a disaster. Drug overdose deaths rose nearly 30 percent in 2020 to a record high 93,000. This is no longer an “opioid” crisis. What I mean is, 2020 overdose deaths linked to stimulants, especially methamphetamine, also broke records. The other key development here is the further entrenchment of illicit fentanyl in the dru…
 
One area where drug stigma especially persists, even among harm reduction advocates, is the prejudice against mothers and pregnant people who use drugs. Even some people in syringe exchange or who work in drug policy are against the idea of people with the capacity for pregnancy, (i.e. anyone with a uterus), using pretty much any drugs for any purp…
 
Psychedelic drugs are well beyond the quote ‘renaissance’ stage and relatively recently entered a ‘gold rush’ as dozens of companies maneuver themselves to make this nascent industry as profitable as possible for themselves. At least that’s part of their motivation. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword for folks that want to see an end to the drug wa…
 
Few social justice groups have put in as much work to end the war on (people who use) drugs like the Drug Policy Alliance. Since 2000, DPA has been behind some landmark drug reforms, such as leading a campaign to enact major reforms of New York’s notorious Rockefeller drug laws, assisting in a public education campaign that saw Uruguay legalize can…
 
For many people, psychedelic drugs like LSD or psilocybin are their first major introduction to a profoundly altered state of consciousness. Mental conditions like autism or ADHD are other forms of consciousness, although they don’t wear off after 12 hours and so-called ‘neurotypical’ people often have misconceptions about these mental arrangements…
 
Our planet is in crisis, plagued by an increase in wildfires, floods, hurricanes, freak storms and outbreaks of disease. As a result, we’re seeing more and more people isolated, left to fend for themselves, as the cracks in public infrastructure only seem to widen. To use one prominent example, the state of Texas has been slapped with recurrent cat…
 
Amid a wave of synthetic drugs in recent years, Kensington, Pennsylvania has emerged as the locus for a different kind of experimentation, through a new generation of freelance entrepreneurs. Their bathtub chemistry is often guided by trial and error—leaving doctors, public health officials and harm reductionists struggling to understand the latest…
 
There’s a “twindemic” raging across the state of West Virginia: Covid-19 has collided with an outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C. If that’s not bad enough, West Virginia has the highest overdose death rate in the nation. The CDC recently called the HIV outbreak in Kanawha County, West Virginia the “most concerning” in the country. Make no mistake, thi…
 
It’s kinda weird hearing people say “weed is mainstream” now, when merely possessing the plant stuff can still earn you serious consequences in many parts of the world. But the growing popularity of cannabis is unmistakable. Marijuana is now a global, multi-billion dollar industry—well, to be fair, it always was, only now it’s all legitimate and ov…
 
Maybe it seems like an obvious question, but why is certain drug use illegal in the first place? Don’t you, as a human being, have some bodily autonomy and doesn’t that extend to alterations in the mind as well? What about the fundamental right to change your mind? On this episode of Narcotica, co-hosts Troy Farah, Chris Moraff and Zachary Siegel t…
 
Dr. Carl Hart has long been known as America’s preeminent drug scientist. If you listen to our show regularly, you’ve probably heard of him. He appeared briefly way back on Episode 6, talking about crack-cocaine. For the uninitiated, Dr. Hart is a neuroscientist at Columbia University, and he’s published well over 100 peer-reviewed, scientific pape…
 
On this episode, we discuss how Mexico became a flashpoint of the war on drugs, broader trends in American foreign policy and drug policy, as well as the evolution of synthetic drugs as the main category of illicit narcotics. Our guest is Stewart Scott, a security analyst who for years penned one of the best annual assessments of Mexico’s evolving …
 
Most people know salvia as the weird psychedelic drug at head shops that you try once, have a bizarre, uncomfortable experience and never touch it again. But there’s so much more to salvia divinorum, psychedelics and plant medicine in general. Narcotica co-host Troy Farah speaks with Dr. Ivan Casselman, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, who has a Ph.D.…
 
Is there any class of people who receive more stigma, who get more shit and abuse for using drugs, than mothers? Probably not! For whatever reason, society really looks down upon mothers who use drugs. And too often, Child Protective Services use evidence of drug use, even prescribed drugs like methadone or buprenorphine, as a pretense for seizing …
 
Something that never gets said enough is that the drug war is racist. This is not an opinion any more than it is an opinion that the American Civil War was fought over slavery. Both were crafted by racists to serve racist agendas of controlling people based on their skin color. It is why it is more urgent than ever that we dismantle this system of …
 
You ever wonder what the hell pharmacists even do? To laypeople, pharmacists are the gatekeepers standing between us and our drugs. But they can be, and arguably, should be, much more than that. Even though just about everyone has experience with pharmacists, some good, some really bad, the profession is still a bit of a mystery. What’s going on be…
 
When Morgan Godvin was 24, she sold her best friend Justin a gram of heroin. This wasn’t out of the ordinary. Both of them often used together and hooking each other up was essentially seen as a favor, to keep one another from experiencing withdrawal sickness. But this one time proved to be fatal. Justin would later be found dead from an overdose, …
 
There are several health crises occurring around the U.S. and the world right now: overdose deaths, a pandemic, police brutality and violence… While these crises may all feel distinct one from one another, they are actually deeply entwined and can be understood through a lens of racial justice. Overdose deaths disparately impact people of color, as…
 
The last place you’d want to be dependent on drugs, besides the Philippines, North Korea or the United States, is probably Russia. To give just one example, the Motherland has long banned the use of medication-assisted treatment, such as buprenorphine or methadone, which has made recovery next to impossible for many users. Narcotica co-host Christo…
 
Pretty much everyone on the planet is being impacted by Covid-19 right now. Harm reduction services like syringe access programs or supervised consumption sites are no exception. But for some people, these services are not just their lifeline, they’re the only healthcare they receive, period. And when hospitals and doctor’s offices are already stre…
 
The covid-19 crisis has exposed many weak spots in our culture and the need for radical change. It has revealed which workers are really essential—hint: it’s not executives keeping this late-stage capitalist economy afloat—and that we need to pay these workers a living wage. It has revealed that yes, healthcare is a human right and that contributin…
 
Ketamine is one of the most versatile drugs on Earth, an amazing anesthetic that can relieve pain without the same risk of respiratory failure as opioids (nothing against them, of course.) Overwhelming evidence also suggests ketamine can rapidly reverse suicidal thoughts, making it a potent treatment for PTSD and treatment-resistant depression. Las…
 
In these uncertain times, Narcotica aims to not only give our listeners vital public health information, but also offer a sense of reassurance and community. If you’re following the social distancing guidelines, or working from home, life may feel a little extra lonely right now, and we aim to provide interviews and conversations to keep you compan…
 
In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out guidelines for primary care doctors prescribing opioids to treat chronic pain. Essentially, these guidelines stated that opioids should not be the first line treatment for pain, and that other methods should be tried first. Which is perfectly sensible. But when it came to dosing and d…
 
Public officials have been yelling from the rooftops that there’s an opioid epidemic. Yes, an obscene number of people are dying from overdoses, many of which involve opioids. But they’re not quite right. Researchers who really get what’s going on describe what’s happening to the U.S. drug supply over the last few years as a mass poisoning. Were it…
 
It’s difficult to write about drugs without being steeped and schooled in the discourse. Cultural tropes and conventional wisdom dominates the space. Drugs are anthropomorphized as the enemy. People who use drugs are described as manipulative and selfish, unless, of course, they’re “clean.” Often there is little empirical research cited and the sam…
 
An opioid overdose can be a terrifying experience. When too much of a drug like heroin or fentanyl floods the brain, it can cause your breathing to stop. Sometimes you wake up, sometimes you don’t. But there’s a miraculous drug called naloxone or brand name Narcan that can reverse an opioid overdose and save your life. Today’s guest is Ryan Marino,…
 
Magic mushrooms are having a bit of a moment. Some scientists are bending over backgrounds investing in psilocybin research, which is getting huge accolades from the FDA, while a decriminalization movement is slowly sweeping the nation. At least two towns have made psilocybin arrests the cops’ lowest priority. But how do you prevent a mushroom trip…
 
President Richard Nixon ignited the War on Drugs in 1971 by declaring drugs “public enemy No. 1.” Over the ensuing decades, the U.S. has turned the Drug War into a vital feature of its vast empire, exporting a drug policy of militant enforcement and harsh criminalization in Mexico, Latin America, South America, and beyond. Exactly how this war play…
 
Aphrodisiacs are powerfully attractive for a reason. Sex is, after all, crucial to the survival of our species and it feels fucking amazing, so using chemicals that can make sex last longer, feel better or otherwise enhance the act is going to be like candy to a bunch of horny primates. But the term chemsex—using drugs, or chemical enhancement, to …
 
The single biggest driver of the overdose crisis today is not oxycodone or heroin: It’s fentanyl. Drug trends around the world are always in flux, and a wide-range of nebulous supply-and-demand factors are always in play. But according to “Fentanyl, Inc.,” a sprawling investigation into the global supply of illicit fentanyl by journalist Ben Westho…
 
Safehouse is safe, for now. On Wednesday Oct. 2, a federal judge in Philadelphia ruled that a supervised injection site proposed by the nonprofit Safehouse would not violate a provision of the Controlled Substances Act, known as the “Crack House” statute, authored by none other than Democratic presidential frontrunner, Joe Biden. On today’s episode…
 
Doctors are often blamed for prescribing America into the opioid crisis. Their reckless actions, relying on opioids to relieve just about every morsel of pain, ignited the deadliest overdose crisis in history, so we’re told. Of course, the narrative around doctors is much more complex than that. But one truth is inescapable: Without doctors prescri…
 
via New York Department of Health/Troy Farah By now you might be wondering whether your vape pen has acquired a taste for human blood. There have been several deaths and hundreds of cases of “mysterious lung illnesses” traced back to various “vaping products,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since that sentence is incre…
 
Antibiotic resistance and doping at the Olympics are two pretty unrelated ideas, but they’re both covered in the new book ‘The Day It Finally Happens’ by author and journalist Mike Pearl, who sat down in Narcotica co-host Troy Farah’s kitchen. The book is kind of exploring the future in an interesting way, taking a lot of these wild, worst case sce…
 
Narcotica co-host Zachary Siegel was in Los Angeles for a conference on depicting drug use in Hollywood films and TV shows, so co-host Troy Farah trudged down from the High Desert and they recorded an episode in a hotel room. Despite doing Narcotica for well over a year, the pair hadn’t met in person before. (Chris Moraff couldn’t make this episode…
 
Sarn is a Pathway to Housing participant in Philadelphia via Chris Moraff The Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia is often described as “ground zero” in the overdose crisis. The New York Times Magazine gave Kensington’s open air drug market the dubious title, “The Walmart of Heroin.” Of course, if you take a tour of Kensington without a DEA age…
 
Kratom, a strange plant from Southeast Asia has become one of the most controversial herbs in the United States. In this episode, Troy Farah breaks down the risks and potential benefits of this unique tree and why banning it would likely lead to a devastating increase in deaths in the opioid overdose crisis with Walter Prozialeck, a pharmacology pr…
 
What does abortion access have to do with the war on drugs? EVERYTHING. On this episode, we talk about some of the most controversial drugs of them all, drugs that are often overlooked in the debate about reforming drug policy: abortifacients, drugs that induce miscarriage, ending pregnancies. Specifically, misoprostol and mifepristone. We speak wi…
 
With perhaps the exception of fentanyl, no drug is seen as more dangerous or controversial than heroin. But when you look at decades of medical literature, it’s clear that heroin, also known as diacetylmorphine, is just another opioid, and it has a place in medicine. On this episode, Troy Farah and Zachary Siegel discuss the controversial idea of p…
 
On this episode Narcotica highlights a new project from the Health in Justice Action Lab at Northeastern University called Changing The Narrative, which aims to correct flawed narratives about drugs, debunked myths, old tropes, and stigmatizing language in mainstream media. It includes a directory of expert sources that journalists can contact for …
 
Sometimes, you’ll be reading a great piece on the drug overdose crisis that is just ruined by a crappy stock image of a gigantic syringe and a mountain of what is obviously flour or someone nodding out on the sidewalk. On this episode, Narcotica explores what accurate, tactful drug imagery should look like. The team speaks with Nigel Brunsdon, the …
 
via Troy Farah In this episode, Chris and Zach sit down with Eliza Wheeler of the Harm Reduction Coalition in San Francisco. Wheeler has been working in harm reduction, distributing syringes and naloxone directly to people who use drugs, for over two decades. She’s seen a lot of progress in her lifetime. But as harm reduction goes mainstream, Wheel…
 
If you ask many, many people whose lives have been upended by opioids, buprenorphine is a life saver. It can literally cut the risk of a fatal overdose by half or more in folks who have an opioid addiction. Also known as Subutex or Suboxone, buprenorphine is one of the three FDA approved medications to treat what’s formally known as opioid use diso…
 
In this episode, Zach and Troy interview two veteran harm reduction activists: Jess Tilley and Albie Park. Jess and Albie have organized on behalf of drug users for decades, building community to ensure that no one has to die a preventable overdose death. You’ll learn about how they met, how they work, and what policies and ideas they are currently…
 
Psychedelic drugs are weird, but DMT has to be one of the weirdest. Best known as the principle psychoactive ingredient in ayahuasca, this drug, N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, occurs naturally in many plants and animals. Troy Farah interviews Andrew Gallimore, a computational neurobiologist, pharmacologist and DMT enthusiast, and author of the new book ‘A…
 
Canada’s Downtown Eastside in Vancouver is known around the world as a city of pain and trauma. That’s not the whole story. Vancouver has produced trailblazing harm reduction activists and scholars who have changed the fabric of drug user health care. The Crackdown is a podcast that features some of the bravest activists who are pushing the envelop…
 
Mainstream media doesn’t really ‘get’ drugs, but there’s one place that has consistently gotten it right: Filter Magazine. Narcotica hosts Christopher Moraff, Zachary Siegel and Troy Farah talk with Filter’s co-founder and editor-in-chief Will Godfrey. This conversation covers a lot of ground on media literacy and compassionate reporting on drug us…
 
Few would disagree with the notion that the United States government has dropped the ball on responding to the opioid crisis, particularly the threat posed by illicitly manufactured fentanyl in the heroin supply. That’s the basis of a new piece called “The Fentanyl Failure,” a Washington Post investigation into the Obama Administration. Only, there…
 
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