It wasn't my first overdose, and it might not be my last
September 9, 2013 5:50 PM   Subscribe

In photographer Matt Slaby's series In Xanadu, current and former drug users in Denver describe places throughout the city where they've experienced overdoses.

The series is part of a larger public health campaign, launched in conjunction with the Denver Harm Reduction Action Center.
posted by ActionPopulated (18 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The homeless former lymphoma patient's story breaks my heart a little extra. Fuck, this country is uncivilized.
posted by spitbull at 5:58 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

You don't have to inject to OD. You just have to be clean for a couple of years then do some junk that is much purer than what you were used to.

RIP Chuck E. J.
posted by Max Power at 6:05 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

fuck anyone who romanticizes hard drugs as some kind of intense, authentic, lifestyle.
posted by thelonius at 6:15 PM on September 9, 2013 [10 favorites]

(I don't mean the people in the story, of course)
posted by thelonius at 6:16 PM on September 9, 2013

"I'll die young, but it's like kissing God"
the posthumously pardoned
Lenny Bruce
posted by hortense at 6:29 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

My twin brother died of a drug overdose, but it was oxycodone. Insanely high rates of deaths but it just doesn't have that romance that heroin does unfortunately.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 7:17 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

From Pivot Legal Society in Vancouver - A three-point plan for ending overdose deaths

The points being:
1) Remove the barriers to naloxone and offer overdose prevention training
2) Enact a 9-1-1 Good Samaritan law
3) Open supervised consumption services across Canada

I welcome the campaign to humanize injection drug users displayed in this link. I also realized when I was reading the article from Pivot that I didn't really quite understand what "harm reduction" means on the ground, and I think it's important to create a public understanding of concrete measures that can be taken to make people safer that aren't being done. Overdoses are inevitable given the uncertainty about dosages of street drugs, but overdose deaths can be prevented.
posted by lookoutbelow at 7:20 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

Ethnomethodologist, did you see the photos as romanticizing heroin use? I can't tell from your comment, and I'm curious.

Also, a . for your brother.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:36 PM on September 9, 2013

My impression is that romanticism is one of the things the artist wants to fight against (I know you weren't asking me, just wanted to make this clear). Like thinking that "normal" people do not become addicts, it is also a form of projecting the issue to an other, but to an exotic other, not a poor/morally bad/ethnic other.
posted by thelonius at 7:51 PM on September 9, 2013

Wow, this is powerful. I love photo series like these.
posted by just_another_crowd at 8:04 PM on September 9, 2013

My oldest stepson overdosed and died four years ago last April. We won't fully recover, either.
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:23 PM on September 9, 2013

We won't fully recover, either.

I'm so very, very sorry.
posted by MissySedai at 8:39 PM on September 9, 2013

I still miss you, Jason. Always will.
posted by rtha at 9:24 PM on September 9, 2013

Using the phrase 'War on Drugs' invites the framing :
Drugs are bad, therefore the war is good.
But the correct phrase is 'War on People Who Use Drugs'.
The photos here may help put people into policy and end the insane war.
posted by llc at 10:32 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Scott Chapman, you are lost and gone forever. Sorry I couldn't do more.
posted by Glomar response at 2:19 AM on September 10, 2013

This is awesome. I can't look at it. I worked for a harm reduction program and it lead to both, dislike drug culture, and to like harm reduction. The entire principle of harm reduction starts with the premise there is a lot of harm going on- both in the lives of people who gravitate to addiction as a solution, and after the use of these drugs.

The solutions are complex and imperfect but they are THERE. We can make a difference in the amount of suffering and death that our fellow human beings experience both due to various reasons. We need to stop seeing people as bad for grabbing a hold of painkillers, or something to feel good when they are in hella pain.

This is like blaming drowning people for flailing and grasping as moral failures. Certainly some people manage to drown nicely but they might not even survive as well you know? Maybe these instincts actually have a purpose even if they make rescue missions more complicated? From the point of view of the drowning person there may not be any signs any one is serious about the huge and complex task of rescuing humans who have seriously huge issues and life pain that you can't just erase by being there or handing the right medicine.

It takes work. A LOT of work.

But we have whole teams of people that rescue ill animals or species that are struggling to get them back on their feet. We should have the same mentality about every human that is struggling.

Don't we have a job shortage? If there is labor that is needed to help our fellow beings, what's the gap really about? (I know fears of socialism.) Why did Jesus have to say "there will always be the poor." He said that before the technology and intelligence we have now. Restructuring distribution and access to living wage jobs will not erase all forms of inequality but we could do better than this. I know it.
posted by xarnop at 5:01 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

If these people had been able to purchase heroin from Wal-Mart, they would have been able to correctly assess the dosage they were taking. It is the war against some drugs that acted as proximate cause for their brushes with death.
posted by gregor-e at 3:16 PM on September 10, 2013

Can we get some Narcan up in here? Jeez.
posted by Hennimore at 7:30 PM on September 10, 2013

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