Submitted by admin on Fri, 08/03/2012 - 17:18.
Surving, Stories & Stigma
I came to Washington for AIDS 2012 hoping to learn from the many sessions as well as meet other's who have joined the global effort to end HIV/AIDS. While I was exposed to a diversity of panels and sessions from around the globe showcasing the hard work of individuals from all walks of life that have inspired me to continue to be an advocate, what touched me the most were the personal stories that I found throughout the conference. Stories of love, of life, and of birth, and of death. Stories of health and illness, and so many stories of survival. Some stories were accompanied by photographs or art , some were in movies screened in the Global Village. Others were not accompanied by any imagery. The words laid bare yet ever still so powerful.
As I stopped to read these stories and consider them each individually, a noticed a theme among them that I could not ignore. While many people living with HIV or AIDS continued to live productive lives, engaging in a number projects and working relentlessly in their communities, I was troubled by re occurring commonalities- discrimination, isolation, and stigma. As it was well put in the Thursday performance Music and Musings from the Life of a 27 year Survivor, many of the everyday social barriers that people living with HIV/AIDS face constitute “components for an extremely lonely existence”.
I could not help but wonder why it was that as we joined hands during this one week in Washington, making promises not only to ourselves, but to future generations, that loneliness from isolation due to social discrimination still pervaded the daily experiences of positive peoples. And for this reason I believe that we must continue in our efforts to develop not only more scientific advancements, but also engage the media in providing more educational messages concerning HIV/AIDS while highlighting the very really harms of stigma. We must make it up to personally each and every one of us to de-mystify and lessen the fears associated with HIV/AIDS.
By coupling scientific with social goals that promote equity, acceptance and compassion, we can foster a sense of community that has the potential to take us above and beyond. From the depth of my heart, I want to thank all of those who shared or contributed in the sharing of stories that have greatly changed my perspective.
-- Yamina Sara Chekroun (YouthRISE worker, former TRIP! Outreach Worker)
Yamina Sara Chekroun presenting at AIDS 2012 Conference
From the youthAIDS2012 website:
Youth Force Declaration for Change
Top 10 ideas
All young people have the right to sexual and reproductive health services that are accessible, available, safe, affordable, quality-approved, youth-friendly and adapted to their specific needs.
Meaningful youth participation at all levels of decision-making is crucial in the development of effective SRHR and HIV programmes; participation must include not only those with resources but also those on the ground levels.
We demand ACCESS to youth-friendly prevention, treatment, care and support services for all young people, including young people living with HIV, so that our right to the highest attainable standard of health may be achieved.
Comprehensive and appropriate information about HIV should be accessible to all young people including those with disabilities, in & out of schools, migrants & those living in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas.
We demand increased funding for research that focuses on HIV among young people addressing not only prevalence rates but also lifestyles and behavioral patterns, risk factors and other areas needed for HIV response.
Increase ACCESS to financial & technical support that strengthens youth organizations and youth led initiatives to increase our impact in the HIV response, by creating mechanisms that assure money transfers down to the ground.
We demand universal access to sexual and reproductive health integrated services that includes the specific needs of women and girls, respecting their human rights and an emphasis on equity and respect for diversity.
Eliminate social, cultural and political barriers in accessing health services among young people by making interventions gender and age-responsive, rights-based, and sexual orientation and gender identity-inclusive.
We demand more support for capacity building programs that empower youth and enable them to participate effectively in policy making especially concerning areas that affect them like environment, health and rights.
We demand PROTECTION by the law. We must not be criminalized because of our sexual orientation and gender identity, drug use, HIV status, disability and/or sex work.
You can check out all the ideas and more information on the project site.
Submitted by admin on Fri, 07/20/2012 - 14:53.
(Check out our previous introductory post on research chems for more background info.)
Here's a list of some of the trends we've seen to date in Toronto, but we're going to keep you posted on what we know is happening with Research chems locally. If you have any questions about RCs that you'd like to know more about, or if you have noticed any emerging RC trends, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by approaching any of our volunteers.
aka "super coke"
Despite the nickname, this substance is chemically unrelated to cocaine and produces significantly different effects: it is a (much) longer-term stimulant that is better compared to speed. While the branding helped initial sales of this substance, many users who experimented with it based on liking cocaine found themselves experiencing negative effects (generally due to the length and strong emotional levels of the high). MDPV is a common ingredient in “bath salts” formulations sold online and via head shops. As with any stimulant, prolonged and repeated use can result in users staying up for days in a row, potentially impairing cognitive judgement and producing delusional and paranoid mental states, i.e. psychosis.
aka "max volume" (local), "meow meow" (UK)
Mephedrone was developed in the UK and distributed quite cheaply, quickly gaining popularity amongst youth at a time when more common drugs like E became increasingly scarce. Use has declined as more and more negative side-effects are reported, including decreased sexual ability in males, apparently high abuse potential and (in the case of some heavier chronic users) health problems including vasoconstriction leading to vein collapse. Media scare reports in the UK and underground anti-Mephedrone campaigns emerged as use spread, it became increasingly uncool to be known as a user of the drug, and laws were tightened. Chemical manufacturing companies marketing RCs in the UK have since made a point of pricing their new substances (like MXE) much higher so as to avoid the same explosion of underage use and the negative media attention that was associated with it.
2C* (2C-B, 2C-I, 2C-E and related molecules, as well as 2C-T-2, 2C-T-7, etc)
While these substances have existed for decades, being first synthesized and described by Alexander Shulgin in PiHKAL in the 1970/80s, they have had much more limited distribution and use until quite recently. Now these phenethylamine psychedelics have began appearing in place of MDMA/E and in some cases LSD (not on blotter, which isn't large enough to contain an active amount of these substances, but in small microdot pills). This is despite the fact that the effects differ quite a bit from MDMA/MDA - these psychedelics tend to be longer-lasting, more hallucinogenic, less euphoric, less empathogenic, more physically uncomfortable, more anxiety-producing and more likely to produce introverted states in social situations.
Important to note is that the 2C*s are much more potent than MDMA, especially when snorted, and anyone who is used to snorting MDMA or E pills should be very cautious with new batches because of the chance of an unpleasantly strong psychedelic trip if they have actually been given 2C*s.
As well, the related but separate 2C-T-* group has a particular warning attached to it, as 2C-T-7 has been linked to accidental lethal overdoses in experimental users (even ones who knew exactly what they were consuming), especially in those users who have been snorting rather than eating the drugs. More information can be found at http://www.erowid.org/ask/ask.php?ID=2175 (this link is over a decade old, so doesn't discuss many of the newer RCs).
MXE is a ketamine derivative that was developed in the UK in 2010 with the specific intent of being distributed on the "grey market" in place of K, which was facing stiffer and stiffer legal controls in many countries. Although many users experimenting with MXE have sought it out based on the hope that it is similar to K, most users report the effects as being more comparable to opiates.
It has been advertised as being "bladder friendly" and was designed in an attempt to avoid the bladder damage issues that have been reported by heavy, chronic ketamine users. Being sold in the wake of the UK's mephedrone wave, distribution was originally done at a higher price than necessary in order to limit the speed at which the substance spread. Despite the initial promise of "a safer ketamine," overdose deaths have since been reported and lawmakers are quickly moving to enact bans on the substance. Russia and Switzerland have banned MXE since late 2011, and the UK rushed through a temporary ban while they wait to get around to discussing a permanent ban. In Canada, MXE may be considered illegal based on PCP analogue laws - updates on this as we learn them.
Two related but different amphetamine-class drugs, PMA and PMMA have increasingly appeared in place of E/MDMA and (in the case of PMA) LSD.
PMA acts as a psychedelic without being particularly stimulating or euphoric. PMMA, instead, acts primarily as a stimulant. Both have been linked to numerous overdose deaths, including PMMA in early 2012 in Western Canadian provinces where it was sold as pressed "ecstasy" pills.
The dangers related to PMA/PMMA are for two different primary reasons. In the case of PMA, the substance acts as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), a substance which increases the potency and toxicity of many other drugs and even certain foods. When PMA and MDMA are taken together (just like when any MAOI and MDMA are taken together), the risk of serotonin syndrome can be increased.
PMMA, on the other hand, acts as a physical stimulant which can raise a user's blood pressure and heart rate. These effects can occur at doses lower than the other psychoactive effects, and so users who think they are taking normal ecstasy will assume that their pill is just "weak"/"bunk" and increase their dose. The overdose threshold for PMMA is lower than for MDMA, and users can reach the point of a dangerous stimulant overdose before they realize that they have taken anything unusual. As this is a particular health concern in Canada right now, be extra cautious about E and MDMA - test your pills and never re-dose because something seems too weak (who wants to double up on something that's crap anyway, right??). If you feel really sick after dosing & none of the normal tricks work (take a break, drink some water or something with electrolites, use the washroom, lie down, etc.) think about heading to the ER.
AMT is a psychedelic stimulant of the tryptamine family that is not typically found in place of other drugs. However, as it is often described as having a particularly unique set of effects, it has achieved a fair level of popularity on its own. While not extremely common, it is definitely more common than many other experimental psychedelics. First developed in the 1960s, it experienced a boost in popularity beginning in the '90s as commercial chemical supply distribution became more widespread. AMT currently remains legal in most countries, including Canada.
A euphoric stimulant which has been marketed under "legal high"/"ecstasy alternative" brands, BZP is now banned in a handful of countries but remains legal in Canada. Although no deaths have been reported from BZP alone, deaths have been reported in people consuming BZP and MDMA together, however BZP could not be identified as a direct cause in those cases. Nonetheless, the list of negative side-effects is substantial:
[Patients with mild to moderate toxicity experienced symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, dystonia, and urinary retention. Significantly, fourteen toxic seizures were recorded with two patients suffering life-threatening toxicity with status epilepticus and severe respiratory and metabolic acidosis. It was concluded that BZP appears to induce toxic seizures in neurologically normal subjects. The results of this study and others like it showed that BZP can cause unpredictable and serious toxicity in some individuals, but the data and dosage collection were reliant on self reporting by drug users, which may result in under-reporting, and there were complicating factors like the frequent presence of alcohol and other drugs.]
The above information came from a study in Christchurch, New Zealand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzylpiperazine
How are we supposed to go forward from here with the possibility that any street drug could contain something we haven't even heard of yet?
The same old approach still holds true in this new situation:
Know yourself, know your substance and know your source!
Knowing yourself: Recognize when the effects of something you've taken don't match what they should. Try to familiarize yourself with information aobut RCs that you could possibly encounter and know what effects to be looking out for.
Knowing your substance: TEST!!! If at all possible, test every batch with a testing kit. While testing kits used to only identify a small handful of major substances, there are now kits which can detect many dozens of different things, ranging from illegal drugs to unusual RCs to major pharmaceuticals.
Contact TRIP! for more information on testing, and also take a look at the DanceSafe , EZ Test and Bunk Police websites. If you absolutely can't get something tested, you should still learn to be as skilled as possible at assessing your drugs by appearance, taste and other means (the common ketamine 'burn test' is a good example of another testing method).
Knowing your source: Part of this also means knowing that your source may be honest with you but still not realize that they were sold something weird. While most dealers won't be willing to tell you in-depth information about their own sources, you should try to get a sense of whether they have extremely reliable and consistent links or whether they switch suppliers and are kind of hit-or-miss every time they pick up.
Likewise, if you're getting RCs from a chemical supply company, realize that not all companies are the same - many of the less legitimate ones will sell impure products, poorly-made products, or even sell totally mislabelled products when they've run out. Get as many reviews as you can, make sure that online reviews aren't just spam put out by the company, and try to get a sense of whether the company really distributes large amounts for research purposes or is just some random person in a basement somewhere.
(Check out our previous introductory post on research chems for more background info.)
Submitted by admin on Mon, 06/04/2012 - 23:34.
RCs – research chemicals, which are sometimes called designer drugs and are more properly described as unresearched chemicals, are becoming increasingly common, both in semi-legal grey areas like "bath salts" and "plant fertilizer" as well as in the underground illegal market.
TRIP! will be issuing this monthly bulletin regarding trends in research chems. If you have any questions about specific RCs, or have been hearing about any new ones that seem to be appearing, feel free to send us an e-mail at email@example.com or chat up one of our volunteers.
What exactly are RCs?
RCs are chemicals which have yet to be researched and/or have been created for research purposes but haven't gone through rigorous clinical study. Because of this, anyone considering using research chems should do very thorough research first. Make sure to look into effects, side-effects, dosages and known risks, even more so than with "familiar" drugs - which you should always be as knowledgeable as possible about anyway ;)
As well, it is extremely important that you understand that you are essentially acting as a guinea pig, and many of these substances may only seem safe until a hospitalization or fatality occurs "in the wild." Even if there are no serious short-term side-effects, long-term problems could accumulate and remain undetectable for years.
"Although some people are willing to ingest these chemicals for their effects, it is not reasonable to assume that these chemicals are in any way 'safe' to use recreationally. Although all psychoactive use involves risk, this class of chemicals has undergone virtually no human or animal toxicity studies and there is little to no data on possible long term problems, addiction potential, allergic reactions, or acute overdoses."
When you contrast this with drugs like LSD, MDMA and even now K which have decades of formal research behind them, the unknown risk factor essentially becomes infinite. However, nowadays you may be encountering these substances whether you seek them out or not, so it's important that you familiarize yourself with the world of RCs even if you don't intend to be consuming them.
This is because RCs - some of which were initially synthesized years ago - are popping up all over the place these days…
Where are they showing up?
While more and more people are acquiring RCs deliberately and selling them under their actual names, many RCs are also sold in place of already-popular drugs like MDMA/E, K, LSD and so on. This is because there is already established demand in the black market for these substances, and so it can be much easier to move a bag of methoxetamine by calling it "K" or PMMA by calling it "E" than by trying to explain what they actually are to reluctant customers.
Why are they now showing up more and more?
Technology and globalization is one reason. Although a flip through PiHKAL http://www.erowid.org/library/books_online/pihkal/pihkal.shtml and TiHKAL www.erowid.org/library/books_online/tihkal/tihkal.shtml will reveal more decades-old psychedelics than you'll be able to keep track of, there are now more chemical companies producing them in high quantities, and it is easier for these suppliers to take orders online & ship products worldwide.
Prohibition is the other big reason. Recent years have seen repeated tightening of laws regarding possession, distribution and production of common street drugs like MDMA, K, and LSD.
Even though it now seems to be more likely for a user to experience a toxic overdose from PMMA than from MDMA, it is a much more serious crime to be found with a shipment of MDMA, actually encouraging the distribution of a more dangerous substance. Likewise, it is far safer to get caught with MXE than with K, even though MXE has been associated with recent lethal overdoses and K is still respected as a mostly-safe pharmaceutical anaesthetic.
It's likely that the more prohibition is expanded, the greater the number of unresearched substances we will see on the black/grey market. While governments are attempting to push anti-analogue laws (essentially, very broad laws which try to make it illegal to choose to alter your consciousness in any way) and other measures which would ban RCs outright, technology continues to provide people with ever-expanding ways to get around the law, and prohibition measures simply can't help but fall further and further behind.
Tech blog Gizmodo just posted a writeup on this topic:
From that post: "If you want any evidence that drugs have won the drug war, you just need to read the scientific studies on legal highs," -- Vaughan Bell, MindHacks
What RCs has Toronto seen the most of so far?
(For more info on these, see post #2 .)
Some of these drugs fit the RC/designer drug qualification of being deliberate attempts to circumvent laws and create legal highs, others are simply largely-unknown chemicals that have existed under the radar for some time and are increasingly showing up in place of more common ones (such is the case when blotter acid turns out to be DOI or DOB instead of LSD).
In coming posts, we'll explore these substances in more depth. If you have any questions about RCs that you'd like to know more about, or if you have noticed any emerging RC trends, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by approaching any of our volunteers.
For now, if you need research-based information immediately on a specific substance, consult Erowid.
Submitted by admin on Sun, 02/05/2012 - 19:53.
Over the last month there have been a number of deaths and hospitalizations in Canada due to adulterated MDMA with PMMA, an analog derived from anise oil. It's really important to test your supply in order to avoid bunk pills. Many users who take these adulterated pills don't feel them kick in and end up redosing, thus experiencing overdoses. If you do take a pill and you don't feel it hit soon enough, avoid redosing as it could potentially be PMMA. These deaths did occur in Western Canada, and while we haven't heard anything around PMMA in Toronto, there are similar concerns about bunk pills on the eastern front. This is just another example of what happens when you crack down on precursers (like safrole oil), as underground chemists will look for other new ways to synthesize legal analogs, which can be more dangerous than the illegal drugs they are based on. While the B.C. police will not release the identity of the pills that caused these deaths, we encourage the community to do their own research and share information online.
Recently, a strange brown powder has resulted in a number of hospitalizations in Owen Sound. One of our harm reduction service users also had a strong reaction to a similar strange brown powder, and we were able to lend them a testing kit. The pills tested positive for what might be 5-MeO-DMT, as well as speed. While there are lots of great posts online about using the DanceSafe Testing kits, it's hard to come across information around the newer research chemicals. Some research chemicals like piperazines or PMMA which are a very common adulterant do not produce any colour changes depending on the reagent. The Mandelin EZ testing kit does screen for PMMA, so that is probably your best bet for catching this substance.
Others can produce colours that look similar to other drugs, so it's really important to do all of the tests (Mecke, Marquis, Simons Reagant, Mandelin, etc.) to know what is in your pill. As such, we've take the liberty of sharing some newer research done by the online community of international drug nerds. Please use the images below to help further determine what adulterants may be lurking in your pill. Feel free to email us at email@example.com if you would like to purchase a testing kit in Canada. The following chart shows some of the range of research chemicals that are showing up on the scene, and below are the Mecke, Marquis, Mandelin and Simons Reagant results for some of these chemicals.
Mecke – Yellow-brown fading to reddish brown
Mecke – Black/dark purple fading to orangy-red
Mecke – Black/dark purple, fading slowly if at all.
Beta Ketones and Various RC stimsempathogens
Mephedrone, Buphedrone, Ethcathinone, 3
MDPV, MDPPP, Methylone, Butylone:
Marquis – yellow
Methedrone (DANGER! BAD STUFF!)
All I know for sure on test results is Robadope should be
JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-081
Mecke – Brown/Yellow
Mecke – grey/brown
Borrowed from the friendly international drug nerd community! Thanks everyone for documenting these results.
Submitted by admin on Sun, 02/05/2012 - 03:26.
Outreach Worker Position
(24 hours a month; $11/hour)
Part Time 1 year Contract Feb 20, 2012- Feb. 20, 2013
CTCHC is a non-profit, community-based health organization committed to improving the health of community members, particularly those at risk for poverty and discrimination. Our multi-disciplinary approach includes the provision of primary health/dental care, counseling, harm reduction, community development, advocacy, and innovative partnerships with other organizations. CTCHC is a leader in the development of inner-city health services and focuses on the needs of homeless and street involved youth, adults, and families in the local area. CTCHC is a pro-choice and gay positive organization committed to employment equity and anti-discrimination. Our facilities are fully accessible.
The TRIP! Project, a project of Central Toronto Community Health Centres (CTCHC), provides safer sex and safer drug use education, information, supplies and referrals, to Toronto’s diverse dance music communities. Working closely with the TRIP! Project Coordinator, this position will be supported to provide peer-based harm reduction education online through social media and onsite at dance music events (parties), and will support project volunteers to provide accurate information on harm reduction, sexual health and safer drug use to the dance music community, local organizations and high schools.
This position will work within a broader Harm Reduction team, and be responsible to the Project Coordinator.
· Provide an average of 1-2 shifts per month of outreach services at dance music events in Toronto each month
· Provide appropriately tailored and accurate information on harm reduction, sexual health and safer drug use to the dance music community through onsite outreach and social media outreach, including Facebook, Purerave, Twitter and blogging
· Attend and provide support for monthly outreach meetings, and meetings with the TRIP! Project Coordinator
Also responsible for working in a manner that:
· Preserves confidentiality and seeks to minimize risk
· Incorporates health promotion and harm reduction strategies and recognizes the determinants of health
· Incorporates and strengthens interdisciplinary teamwork and a collaborative approach to the CTCHC’s work
· Respects and values the diversity of communities and individuals
· Contributes to CTCHC’s activities to collect, analyze and report on data, participates in research as applicable
· Communicates clearly, listens accurately, is open to feedback, handles conflict appropriately, displays sensitivity to others.
· Participates in CTCHC’s commitment to being a discrimination-free health centre.
· An active participant of Toronto’s dance music community; strong knowledge of and comfort with party and rave culture, partygoers, and Toronto’s dance music communities
· Strong knowledge of HIV, drug use, and related issues, as well as risk and harm reduction strategies Knowledge of harm reduction and the rave/dance music community.
· Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
· Knowledge and experience using social media (including Twitter, Facebook and Wordpress)
· Excellent ability to take initiative and work independently, while also working closely with the TRIP Project Coordinator and other TRIP! Outreach Workers
· Demonstrated ability to support peer volunteers in providing health promotional outreach services
· Knowledge and experience using social media (including Twitter, Facebook and Wordpress)
· Positive attitude towards a diverse community
· Ability to work long night shifts on weekends
· Ability to express and invests creativity and positive energy into an incredible youth prohect
· We are particularly seeking applications from qualified members of the groups traditionally under-represented in the workplace and the dance music community
Please email cover letter and resume by Mon Feb 13, 2011 @ 5 p.m.
Hiring Committee - Job#QW,
EMAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org