The Harm Reduction Journal published an informative, well-researched article on filtration of morphine and particle contents of injections in 2009. The research was done in Australia, however the main pill studied was the MS Contin timed-release morphine sulfate pill (widely available in Canada and the U.S.).
Read the full article here
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.
HIV and Injecting Drug Use: A Global Call for Action
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I happen to have been reading the book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Dr. Gabor Mate for the past couple of weeks (its sits on the toilet paper stand in the bathroom awaiting my return). Good shit – the book, that is. It was a Christmas gift which arrived with a couple other books in the mail and if I wasn’t a constipated junkie I’d have probably finished it by now. The good doctor really puts some of the biological and neuro-chemical realities into plain explanations and always with compassion for the “hard core drug addict”. As well he certainly debunks the psuedo-scientific crap that passes for much of the so-called addiction science. The book has been quite a hit up here in Canada over the past year or so. I’m about half way through it and its actually quite a bit better than I expected it might be. I wouldn’t be mentioning it here if I didn’t think it is actually a worthwhile read.
Dr. Mate expresses this sort of sentiment, and therefore he’d certainly agree that: Drug dependence isn’t a moral issue
I mention Dr. Mate’s book because today I got an email with a link to this Addiction Compassion interview that Dr. Mate gave to Seattle’s Real Change Newspaper (in linked article check out the “photo slideshow of the darker side”) last December.
Another of the books within that Christmas package is a fantastic gem entitled Raise Shit! : Social Action Saving Lives which is a collaboration from three people regarding the first decade of VANDU, the drug users’ group in Vancouver. One of the big struggles (and victories) VANDU was directly involved in was establishing the first “official” safer injection site – INSITE slideshow (see post directly below). However, in the battles leading up to the opening of Insite less is known about VANDU operating an “illegal” injection site for the proceeding six months in their effort to force the issues. Raise Shit! provides background details about that sort of drug user activism throughout VANDU’s first decade:
Revealing a social justice movement that culminated through community activism in Vancouver’s downtown east side, [Raise Shit!] documents the opening of the first official safe injection site. Told from the point of view of drug users–those most affected by drug policy, political decisions, and policing–this narrative is conveyed through a montage of poetry and photos of early Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users meetings, journal entries from the Back Alley–the unofficial safe injection site–and excerpts from significant health and media reports. Chronicling the harms of prohibition and emphasizing the concepts of kindness, awakening, and collective action, this recollection spotlights a community of prophets who rebuked the system, bringing hope into situations of apparent impossibility.
– review from Flipcart, India’s biggest online bookseller
We can learn a lot about social organizing from Raise Shit! VANDU did not begin because of a conscious decision to start a drug users’ group but rather it arose out of drug users coming together (in a park and a church basement) to talk about the dire issues that they faced (such as overdose, HIV and police abuse) and their anger regarding such threats to their survival. By collectively identifying their issues, users realized they would need a group in order to struggle to address their issues in a sustainable manner.
Filed under: Dope, harm reduction, JUNKe life | Tags: filtering drugs, mophine
Here’s a link you won’t want to miss:
Basically that’s a link to research reported in the Harm Reduction Journal about filtering out the particles from crushed morphine pills. One big concern people sometimes have is that filtering will block out lots of the morphine along with the insoluble particles. The good news is that filtering leases the morphine and just removes the crap particles. In fact, even after double and triple filtering, still up to 90 per cent of the pill’s morphine dose remained in the solution ready to inject.
One problem with filtering is that coarse filters, such as cigarette filters, still let through lots of small particles. However, using really fine filters often get blocked because they remove so many particles. But there is a sensible solution – filter twice. The first time use a cigarette filter, and then the second time, run the mixture you got back through the cigarette filter into a very fine sterilizing filter. Since all the big particles are already removed by the cigarette filter, the mixture can go through the sterilizing filter and get the very fine particles removed.
In the end you’ll be left with a solution which is essentially free of tablet-derived particles yet still retains upwards of 90 per cent of all the morphine. Doubtless lots of people have been filtering this way already, but now we’ve got actual scientific proof that this method works great. It keeps us both health (particles removed) and high (no loss of dose).
Remember a good “meal” is the result of careful preparation! Happy cooking!
Earlier post about filtering and injecting
Filed under: Good Stuff, harm reduction | Tags: filtering drugs, mophine
The Network Against Prohibition, an Australian user group, has an excellent page at their website about how to safely prepare morphine pills (MS Contin) for injection.
Unfortunately it is rare to find a needle exchange in Canada or the US which provide syringe filters such as the Sterifilt or even better, wheel filters, for harm reduction provision to injectors.
Today Mexico’s President signed into law a bill that was passed in the Spring by Mexico’s Congress. This law allows for the decriminalization of small amounts of all drugs (pot, heroin, cocaine, speed, lsd) considered personal possession. When found with small amounts, individuals will be offered the option of treatment, but not until the third time will treatment become mandatory.
Somewhat similar to what Portugal did 8 years ago. However, in Mexico small amounts is taken very literally; in fact, almost absurdly small. For example, only half a point of heroin (50 milligrams) is decriminalized. This only makes sense for the most casual heroin user. Most long-term “addicts” will use (or need to possess) a LOT more than half a point for their daily use. For example, I use a point and a half per injection, usually three times per day, thus making my normal daily dose nearly 9 times the limit of decriminalized amount in Mexico. In other words, they haven’t even decriminalized an amount sufficient for a normal single dose for an average “addict”, let alone a day or week’s worth. For coke, its half a gram. Again a very small dose.
Portugal has much higher limits. In Portugal “Decriminalization”applies to the purchase, possession, and consumption of all drugs for personal use (defined as the average individual quantity sufficient for 10 days’ usage for one person). That is to say, the limits in Portugal are approx. 30 times greater than the small amounts decriminalized in Mexico.