Photo by Jeff Bierk
Housing is a human right, however…
“It’s estimated that 1500 people sleep outside in Toronto as the result of a housing crisis that saw 102,049 households waitlisted for social housing in 2019 and over 9000 people homeless” – Encampment Support Network (E.S.N.) Toronto
Housing instability and the lack of shelter resources continue to be a violent factor to marginalized folks living in the city. From locally to globally, harm reduction values and practices are both necessary and essential while reaching towards safer and stable housing for all. Not to mention the restrictions or stigmatizations against substance use often turn people who use drugs away from community housing and shelters altogether. Especially, according to E.S.N. Toronto, “as of June 5 there were 14 current COVID-19 outbreaks and 528 confirmed cases in shelters. 4 People have died. In the encampments that have been tested for COVID-19, there were zero cases.” Housing is a human right, and it should not be at the compromise of any person’s dignity, autonomy, or survival. This pandemic should be a reminder of how much care we all deserve and not an opportunity for anyone to be left behind.
Xannies, tictacs, bars, oh my! All the ins and outs of benzodiazepines (benzos) and z-drugs! Commonly used prescription drugs for anxiety and insomnia, and are also used recreationally without a prescription. Even when they’re prescribed, they still have unique risks! Benzos have been infiltrating the illicit drug trade, increasing the risk of overdose and uncomfortable side effects. This piece covers the differences, dosages and routes of administration and other harm reduction strategies to keep you and your friends as safe as possible.
(Image from VIM Fitness)
The food we put into our body is what fuels the way we feel, look and even think.
Food has many nutrients that are either beneficial or may cause negative effects.
When it comes to mindful eating, we are being aware of what is going into our body and giving thanks to everything we eat.
Did you know, eating before using substances can help your time go a lot better? Your body needs to be fueled especially when you eat a substance, it is absorbed through the lining of the stomach and small intestine. If this is empty, this is when acid reflux or gut inflammation can form. Some drugs can make you nauseous, but it’s usually best not to be on an empty stomach.
Being mindful of what is entering your body is also a way of self-care, as you are taking the time to assess, acknowledge what is going into your stomach and body and becoming aware of what feels good to and for you.
Everyone has differences when it comes to food and our bodies. Some folks have bowel issues, eating disorders, gluten intolerances, allergies and more.
What food groups work for some, may not work for others. This is just the beginning to figuring out what feels good for you.
**It is important to know that this is not about feeling guilt or shame about eating any foods, including those that make us feel happy or give us comfort, eating past feeling full, or eating foods that don’t make us feel good – it is strictly about awareness and noticing what is. We are all human and deserve all food groups, including those that give us comfort. ** Continue reading
What is GHB & GBL?
GHB: Gamma Hydroxybutyrate & GBL is Gamma Butyrolactone. Both are central nervous system depressants, meaning they slow your heartrate and breathing. (See our other article for more details about GHB also!)
- GHB is occasionally prescribed for patients struggling with narcolepsy; under the brand name of Xyrem.
- GBL is a precursor to GHB, meaning when GBL is consumed it is turned into GHB in the body, effectively making the substances very similar when consumed. GBL is a chemical solvent used in industries to produce other chemicals.
- GHB is commonly bought and sold in vials and bottles, and is made by mixing GBL with sodium hydroxide, or potassium hydroxide.
- GHB is consumed orally, often times mixed in a soft drink.
- Both GHB and GBL are clear, oily liquids.
- GHB tastes slightly salty and bitter, and is typically odorless or has a mild salty odor, while GBL has a very strong chemical scent & taste.
GHB chemical structure
Effects may include:
- Euphoria, nausea, blacking out or ‘G-ing out’, increased sex drive, dizziness, disinhibition, altered mood, clumsiness, altered perception of time, sleepiness, sweating, memory loss, auditory and visual hallucinations and confusion. GHB takes about 20-60 minutes to kick in, and lasts up to 2.5 hours, with after effects lasting up to 4 hours.
With the stay at home order, social isolation, prolonged stress and employment loss- it is no surprise that substance use may be more prevalent during this time. We’ll cover some of the data that was collected by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) in the earlier months of the pandemic. The CCSA asked over 1000 respondents during April of 2020, about their alcohol and cannabis use habits/rates.
Rates of, and demographics of use:
Have the days gotten longer, but time for yourself seems shorter?
When it comes to our mind, body and soul, we have to take the time to nurture ourselves. During the times of COVID-19, a lot is surpassing us within our day-to-day life, and it is now more than ever that we have to dive deep in taking care of ourselves.
With self-care, it should be known that there is a lot more than picking one specific day.
You are a beautiful temple who deserves nourishment all day every day and using that ‘self-care Sunday’ may feel good in the moment, but it is not enough. You are more than one day a week kind of deal. Being stuck at home and watching Netflix is quite cozy, why not throw in a face mask or cucumber water to keep hydrated and remember to keep the body moving!
What is Self-Care?
The WHO 1998 definition:
‘Self-Care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc.), environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.) socio-economic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.) and self-medication.’
During a pandemic our bodies may go into deep shock. Life is becoming more stressful as good news is hard to find these days. Being able to take that time for relaxation or just managing your own personal stress can help with maintaining your wellness.
Managing Stress Continue reading
Join us for our Community Cares event!
What is Community Care? Think self care, but broader!
We’ll be hosting a speaker and various “Choose Your Own Adventure” breakout rooms filled with art activities and community-related topics to explore with folks in our community!
Are you a young person in Toronto area wishing for or trying to connect more with your community? Are you a partier missing the scene? Are you wondering how to connect with others outside of your bubble or friend group? Do you want to chat with others feeling a similar way and come up with some ideas on how we can support ourselves, each other and our networks beyond ‘self care’?
Join us on Tuesday April 13th
6:30-8:30 PM (EDT) on Zoom
Register here or check out the facebook event or instagram profile for the link at 6:15pm
We are humbled/honoured to have Asante Haughton (@asantetalks) from the Reach Out Response Network to come share about his work and involvements within our communities !!! Don’t miss out!
Art-based community-themed breakout groups + related discussion + harm reduction!
This is an event to get to know one another, learn how we can support ourselves and each other and connect as life continues through these new challenges
<3 We hope to see you there! <3
**Registered attendees will receive a free gift card for their participation/attendance.
*This event will not be recorded*
Breaking down various methods of reducing drug injection related risks & harms
There are plenty of reasons you might choose to inject, and injecting drugs can lead to some unique risks and harm. It allows for significantly faster, and more potent onset of drug effects (if you are mainlining) as opposed to insufflation (snorting), plugging (consuming drugs through your anal/vaginal cavity), or swallowing drugs. You can inject a number of different drugs including opioids (drugs like heroin, morphine and fentanyl), stimulants (like speed, crack, crack cocaine) and various pills. We’ll break down the basics to help keep you and your peers safer if you choose to inject your drugs through a vein; intravenously (AKA IV/mainlining) into your muscle; intramuscularly (AKA IM) or subcutaneously injecting under the skin (skin popping).
Winter is upon us and whatever holidays you celebrate or markers of time passing you acknowledge, there is usually an element of traditions, gathering with loved ones, special food and gift or token giving involved. All of that will look somewhat different this year, there’s no doubt about that, and there are still many options for connecting with each other and reflecting on the previous year.
What are some Activities you can do with low/no risk?
For centuries nutmeg has been used as a psychoactive drug, falling in and out of popularity. It is often selected because it is cheap and easy to come by, (there might be some in your kitchen spice rack right now). Nutmeg is sometimes used to ease symptoms when experiencing opiate/ opioid withdrawal.
Since the 12th century people have used nutmeg as both a drug with medicinal properties and a seasoning. French astrologer, Nostradamus, was said to have induced his prophetic visions by ingesting large quantities of nutmeg. Malcom X is even quoted noting “a penny matchbox full of nutmeg had the kick of three or four reefers,” in his autobiography.
A drug with such a rich history is sure to peak some people’s interest and curiosities, especially being so cheap and easy to access. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the dangers and risk of harm when ingesting nutmeg in high quantities. Currently there is a recurring “Nutmeg Challenges” trend on social media sites like Facebook and TikTok where people (especially teens and young adults) are filming themselves after consuming 2-4 tablespoons of nutmeg.
Light to moderate doses for ground nutmeg range from 5-20g, (roughly 1-5 teaspoons), with strong doses being from 20-30g, (roughly 5-7 teaspoons).