In this episode, Alexa interviews Rachel Clark: Education Manager for DanceSafe, a public health nonprofit specializing in serving people who use drugs and their communities.
As we enter the peak festival season, more individuals will engage in drug use. This makes harm reduction and drug testing even more important. Rachel Clark discusses the complexities of drug testing, which is primarily about ruling out substances rather than measuring purity. She also addresses the issues surrounding fentanyl and its associated myths. In addition, she provides information on how to identify and treat an overdose, emphasizing the importance of not spreading misinformation. Furthermore, she highlights Philadelphia’s struggle with Xylazine and the problem of regional cross contamination. Lastly, she talks about DanceSafe’s campaigns, “We Love Consent” and “Healing is Power,” which aim to promote harm reduction and create safe spaces beyond the substance alone.
“You’re looking for red flags and not green lights. You’re not looking for confirmation that something is in your substance, you’re looking for a red flag about whether something is obviously or potentially not what you expected.”
“The three major symptoms of opioid overdose are very, very slow, shallow, and or stopped breathing, reduced or absent consciousness, and pinpoint/constricted pupils. And I want everyone to understand that the cause of opioid overdose is when your respiration, your breathing slows to the point that your tissues are not being oxygenated and perfused and your heart stops. That is the sequence. …If people understood that this is about a lack of oxygen because your breathing is too slow, I think that the public understanding of fentanyl overdose and opioid overdose would change a lot, because that, in and of itself, gives you a lot of information when you’re looking at someone and evaluating if an opioid could be involved.”
“Always communicate the limitations of what you know. Assume that you are missing information, because you are. And when you are reporting on something that you witnessed, share only what you saw and what you did, including timelines. This is a major, major note for anybody, especially people who work in EMS, because there have been a lot of very well-intentioned folks who have ended up spreading misinformation like wildfire by saying things as certainties instead of sharing observations.”
1. What is DanceSafe?
DanceSafe is a public health nonprofit organization that provides services to individuals who use drugs and their communities.
2. What is the importance of harm reduction and drug testing during the festival season?
Harm reduction and drug testing are crucial during the festival season because more people are likely to engage in drug use. These practices help minimize the risks associated with drug use and promote informed decision-making.
3. What is the purpose of drug testing?
Drug testing is primarily about ruling out substances rather than determining purity. It helps identify potential contaminants or adulterants in a substance, allowing individuals to make more informed choices.
4. What are the myths surrounding fentanyl?
There are several myths surrounding fentanyl, including misconceptions about its prevalence and the ways it can be detected. It is important to differentiate between factual information and misinformation to effectively address the risks associated with fentanyl.
5. How can an overdose be identified and treated?
Symptoms of an opioid overdose include slow, shallow, or stopped breathing, reduced or absent consciousness, and pinpoint/constricted pupils. It is crucial to seek immediate medical attention and refrain from spreading misinformation about overdose treatment.
6. What campaigns does DanceSafe run?
DanceSafe runs the “We Love Consent” and “Healing is Power” campaigns. These campaigns aim to promote harm reduction, open up dialogues about consent, and create safe spaces beyond substance use.