Andrea's letter to the TIMES

Dana Beal dana at phantom.com
Wed Aug 24 19:10:49 EDT 2005


From: andria3a at yahoo.co.uk
Subject: Re: US NY: For Addicts, Killer Dope Must Be Good Dope


Hey,

Just to let y'all know that I sent the following letter to the NYTimes..

Love and solidarity,

Andria E-Mordaunt
www.usersvoice.org.uk

*****************************************************

Dear Madam/Sir,

I would like to thank the New York Times for writing about the death of 
those young men and women who have lost their lives due to 'cut' 
poisoned illegal drugs. Though these events have been ocurring for 
decades - if you buy drugs in the globally prohibitive drug market, it 
possible that you will lose your life because you do not know a) how 
strong the drug is OR what it's cut with - I think it is true to say 
that the acknowledgement of these deaths IS fairly new, and I for one, 
am very grateful for these reports..I am an ex-Injector/addict and AIDS 
widow from London/UK, who began losing friends in the late '70s. In 
those days, deaths to poisoned drugs were rarely reported: the attitude 
was and has often been; you made your bed, now you gotta lie in it.  In 
other words, if you choose criminality, you must face the punishing 
consequences.

It is comparatively recent that we are starting - across different 
parts of the world - to consider that in fact these people often live a 
longer and better quality life IF they are prescribed the drugs of 
their addiction legally, including heroin, rather than being forced to 
waste their money paying for 'dope' that can easily kill (or maim 
them.) Of course, it is great if people can/do come off drugs 
altogether but long and recorded histories of our lives show clearly, 
a) that it is not the outcome for MOST, and b) this is not so easy.

I have spent decades working on improving blood borne disease 
prevention services and drug treatment and it is articles like Alan 
Feuer's that give us hope that we are in fact making some kind of a 
difference.

At least these lost lives are now not fogotten. They mostly were..

Thanks again.

Sincerely


Andria Efthimiou-Mordaunt MSc
011 44 916 5097
011 44 7841 433 187
C/O Leighton Grove
London, NW5 2RA


Richard Lake <rlake at mapinc.org> wrote:

     Newshawk: Richard Lake
     Pubdate: Thu, 18 Aug 2005
     Source: New York Times (NY)
     Copyright: 2005 The New York Times Company
     Contact: letters at nytimes.com
     Website: http://www.nytimes.com/
     Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/298
     Author: Alan Feuer
     Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/coke.htm (Cocaine)
     Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/heroin.htm (Heroin)

     FOR ADDICTS, KILLER DOPE MUST BE GOOD DOPE

     The addict, maybe more than anybody else, understands the hard 
nature
     of certain truths. A habit is a habit, after all, and sometimes only
     dope can scratch the itch.

     "Your desperate seeker that's sick and needs a fix don't care," said
     a man called Bane, who says he has been on and off heroin for almost
     20 years. "They want the high, and in an act of desperation, they'll
     disregard things." Even, he said, if they see someone overdosing.

     Bane is 34 and, like many addicts on the street, goes by a name of
     his own choosing. He was sitting yesterday in Tompkins Square Park
     with friends and strangers alike - men like Skywalker, Dante and
     L.E.S. Jewels - talking of the recent round of overdoses in the
     neighborhood and passing back and forth a newspaper with the
     headline, "Bad Smack."

     The police and health officials are trying to determine whether a
     lethal batch of opiates or cocaine caused the deaths of at least six
     people who apparently overdosed on heroin or a combination of heroin
     and cocaine in Lower Manhattan in the last week. They include a
     homeless man who was discovered in a storage center in SoHo and
     another man found dead on the floor of a portable toilet near Pier 
54
     on the West Side.

     But there were also two young college girls who died - Mellie Nicole
     Carballo and Maria Pesantez, both 18 - and it is they and they 
alone,
     the addicts say, who have brought the attention of the wider world.

     The addicts, after all, have been through this before. In 1991, they
     say, it was the Tango and Cash brand, a synthetic drug called
     fentanyl, which, being sold as heroin, killed 17. Three years later,
     it was China Cat, a blend of heroin so pure it killed a baker's 
dozen
     in less than a week.

     The recent rash of deaths has inspired caution in the park, but also
     bravado. The thinking is that killer dope is strong dope, something
     to test yourself against; if the stuff is deadly, it must be good.

     "I died four times in one day, and I'm still here," said L.E.S.
     Jewels, a skinny 35-year-old from nowhere in particular. Under his
     left eye there are four blue tattooed dots. They stood, he said, for
     the four times he overdosed last week.

     "People figure if they can handle it, it means the dope is good. It
     means they have more tolerance for the stuff."

     Jewels may soon be heading out of town - maybe out to Eugene, Ore.,
     he said, to stay with friends. He mostly gets around by freight
     train. His meals are often from soup kitchens and are almost always 
free.

     It is his belief that a tainted batch of heroin came to town 
sometime
     last week. It may have been cut or sprayed with something poisonous,
     he said, or exposed to some sort of toxin in a warehouse or a truck.

     The brand, or stamp, that knocked him out four times was from a blue
     bag, he said, though another in a clear bag also knocked him out.

     If you are wondering, by the way, what it feels like to overdose 
four
     times in a 10-hour period, Jewel is not much help. He doesn't
     remember a thing about how it felt.

     "You just don't know it's coming," he said of an overdose. "It hits
     you and the next thing you know, you're surrounded by E.M.T.'s."

     The rumors are moving through the park: don't buy from so-and-so; 
the
     blue bags are bad; the clear bags are bad. Some say the brown powder
     is the deadly stuff. Some say the gray.

     "There's a lot of concern with people asking what stamps people are
     dying from and where they're copping," said a sinewy man named
     Travis, who is 30. "I was told that one of the bad stamps was XXX -
     like the Vin Diesel movie."

     The uncertainty has led to addict speculation - anything to 
minimize the risks.

     "There's ways to be smart about taking chances," said a dreadlocked
     girl named Shannon, 24. First of all, she said, don't buy from
     strangers. And take a half-dose at first, not a whole. "You can
     always do more, but you can't do less."

     Skywalker, in his dingy woolen cap, suggested having someone else 
try
     the batch first. It was noted that the kings of old once did that
     sort of thing. He smiled to himself and laughed.

     Eddie's way has been to just stay drunk the last few days - after
     all, no heroin, no worry. Eddie is young but will not say how young.
     He's been around, though. He had "a 10-year San Francisco habit," 
he said.

     Then the man from the outreach center came by. His name was Van 
Asher
     and he had a pretty dog.

     He started telling people not to drink on heroin, since alcohol and
     dope were both depressants that slowed the heart. "If you're 
drinking
     and doing opiates," he said, "do the opiates first because, with
     them, there's no quality control."

     It has upset Mr. Asher that "all the sudden, everybody's talking
     about killer dope, when I know several people who've died at roughly
     the same time who apparently were not newsworthy because of their
     compromised life situations."

     He mentioned a man named Face, who, he said, was brain dead from an
     overdose last week. Then he mentioned Christopher Korkowski, 24, a
     hairdresser found dead last Wednesday in his apartment on Avenue B.

     Mr. Korkowski was never mentioned by the papers, Mr. Asher said,
     until "two attractive college students" died. "Then he became a 
footnote."

     Of course, it all makes sense to Raumy, a 20-year-old man who is
     something of the resident philosopher. Raumy takes no drugs, he said
     - in fact, he said, he does not even drink. His job, according to
     him, is to act as the designated baby sitter for all of his addict 
friends.

     "A junkie's looked down upon as a waste of skin and a Social 
Security
     number," Raumy said, waxing philosophical again.

     "The funny thing is, there's no such thing as a bad batch. It's all
     bad. Eventually, you're still going to die." 
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