Over the years I’ve lived some stretches on the streets. Its got its good points, but if ain’t easy in lots of ways. One of those ways its tough is in trying to keep clean; and more to the point, if you’re needing to fix a few times every day, its tough to find (or maintain) a clean place to do one’s prep and ultimately, one’s fix. We all know dirt isn’t a good mix with whatever goes into our syringe, and therefore, having a clean place to do our thing is pretty darn important if one is trying to negotiate the risks.
Having a clean and stable place to get things together is a big plus. Luckily I’m managing to maintain a roof over my head, and under that roof, we manage to keep our place pretty clean. In particular, we keep our prep area as dirt free and even sterile as realistically possible. As well, having a stable living place that serves as one’s home means one can manage their harm reduction needs in terms of having a ready supply of harm reduction supplies. I’m talking about a cupboard full of clean syringes, new needle tips, alcohol prep pads, sterile water, cottons, and any other tools of the trade. Every needle exchange these days is more than willing to pass along enough supplies that one’s home can be well stocked on an ongoing basis. As such, not only am I well prepared for my day-to-day needs, but I’ve got enough stock for that spontaneous party where suddenly there’s a bunch of folks hanging and needing a clean rig for each and every shot.
Having a sink and working tap is one of the luxuries that having housing also provides. Water to use for fixing and water to use for cleaning – cleaning before and after one’s regular fix, and even during a session that’s stretching out into the new dawn. And a counter-top to work on, something that’s easy to keep clean with a few wipes of a wash rag, followed by a good swipe down using a couple of alcohol prep pads. And those spoons. It’s great to have a drawer full of spoons for every need. Spoons that are regularly washed in the sink. Dried properly. And in my case, carefully swiped with a new alcohol pap before every use (and then wiped dry with a clean piece of toilet paper prior to adding any “substance” into it).
Besides the cleanliness (harm reduction positive) that having a home entails, its great to be able to “hide” behind one’s closed doors and walls and relax and do one’s thing in relative tranquility, away from the prying eyes of rats or the ever-present street danger of patrolling police.
I can’t remember the quote exactly, but William Burroughs wrote something to the effect that there’s no excuse for dirty junky, that there’s no reason not to practice clean routines. I guess he wasn’t thinking about homelessness at the time. But he’s got a good point. It’s ignorance and laziness which keeps us from practicing the harm reduction of cleanliness when one has the advantages of a home for their shelter.
Lately I’ve been forced to rely on some Eslon 200’s (red/opaque cap) and some hydromorph contin 12 mgs (orange cap) because I’m not quite making it to resupply of my regular morphine grays. As many have discovered, the hydromorph contin (basically dilaudid) is quite difficult to well-prepare. Unlike the Eslons (which crush up easy with each bead releasing its morphine powder), the hydromorph contin beads are very tough. Even after crushing a couple of beads there’s hardly any powder visable so I’m starting to wonder whether the bead itself is actually comprised of the dilaudid, as opposed to contains a dilaudid powder. Therefore, it is not enough simply to break the bead (since there’s nothing to release from inside it) but instead you need to powder the bead itself by completely crushing it down to a powder. I beleive the failure of people to crush of the beads completely is the reason why they are complaining about the bang from them. I spend a considerable effort of muscle power breaking down the beads and the resulting powder – when mixed with water and heated – does ultimately release its precious narcotic nectar. I’ve found that 12 mg of hydromorph is equivalent to aprox. 100 mg of morphine, so for me, two 12 mg hydromorph contins (well crushed and cooked) provides decent relief and wellness when flooded into my vein. But only in a pinch do I do either of these caps. They aren’t a healthy as good ol’ morphine contins. I’ve being doing many morphine contins per day for eons and I’m still alive and not doing too darn shabby, if I do say so myself.
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