NCIDU 2010 – Day One am – Involving Drug Dealers and More Than Steroids
More from the NCIDU 2010…
Day One – October 7th 2010 am
These are purely the presentations I decided to go to listen to.
You can see the full programme of speakers from Day One here.
Jim McVeigh, Head of Substance Use, Centre for Public Health, Liverpool Moores University
Gettting drug dealers involved in harm reduction
Ross Coomber spoke about a Plymouth pilot study which involved drug dealers in harm reduction. Makes a lot of sense really doesn’t it but can’t see the Daily Mail ‘getting’ it.
The pilot study involved engaging drug dealers who provided space for users to inject their gear. Inevitably a lot of these spaces aren’t always going to be the most hygenic and so prove an additional risk to users such as Blood Borne Viruses and infections. The premise is that if the dealers can be given access to better information, needle exchanges and so forth then those they are selling to will also be influenced to use more safely and understand why.
Dealers’ houses can essentially be public injecting galleries. Our helpful drug laws of course prevent safe areas like these being officially set up but unofficially is the only way IV users can be helped to be at less risk in terms of safer spaces. Ross also put forward the fact that not all dealers are neccessarily the media stereotype predator, especially in the case of user-dealers. Amazingly dealers are humans too, fancy that! User-dealers may only deal to a close circle of friends and aquaintances and therefore can be instrumental in promoting safer practices.
My conclusion: Controversial it may be, ‘pushing the boundaries’ of harm reduction too but anything that can reduce the transmission of blood borne viruses is another way forward. How anyone can argue against something that can save lives is beyond me. It would be a shame if this Plymouth pilot ends up a one off.
I think what ‘some’ (let’s not prejudge them all) of the general drug ignorant public may hold the view that if people want to inject then let them just catch whatever comes, it’s their own fault blah blah blah. I’ve heard this opinion being voiced in training sessions before. My response to them will always be , ‘It’s not just injecting drug users that spread BBV’s is it?’ and ‘What if it was your son or daughter? Would you want them to be using safely if they have to use at all?’. Soon shuts them up : )
Just another thought too, where would these people prefer their loved ones to be injecting (again, if they were going to anyway). In an unlit stairwell, behind a skip (see Swansea Love Story), in a dirty squat or somewhere clean and safe?
More than Anabolic Steroids
Martin Chandler gave an eye opening talk on the phenomenal amount of growth hormones and products that Steroid users are now using in addition to the Anabolic Steroids they may be taking.
A lot of these substances are used to combat the side effects of others. For example Anti-Estrogen drugs are used to combat the likelihood of gynecomastia (AKA Bitch tits or my preferred word, Moobs). Some of the side effects of Steroids are irreversible and it was amazing to learn just how many of these other Performance Enhancers there are. Not all of them illegal, some OTC, some available on dodgy websites from across Europe with little if any advice.
Martin then went on to explain Stacking and Cycles which are the regimes users will incorporate into their day to day lives in order to acheive their desirable muscular image. It seems you have to be very organised and motivated to be a successful Steroid user. To be honest a lot of this part went over my head. Very complicated. I have to take two separate pills every morning, that’s enough for me to get my head around!!
My Conclusion: There are just so many! Services need drug workers dedicated purely to this client group. It needs to be something drug services can respond to and they need to look at ways of getting users of Performance & Image Enhancing Drugs (PIEDS) to access needle exchanges and harm reduction advice just as they would for all drugs. They will only access services if they are confident in the worker’s knowledge. A big task!
Well that’s the morning done. I’ll try my best to do the rest as soon as I can.
Peace, love and ALWAYS empathy.