Why aren’t we discussing heroin-assisted treatments here in Australia when the success of such treatment is now proven?
Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I truly hope that, within my lifetime, Australia will implement heroin-assisted treatment programs which will allow us to be part of the society which has hitherto rejected and denigrated us. Even if we “fail” to abstain from our drug of choice, we can be valuable, contributing members of our communities, families, and society.
I knew I needed help when my dog started looking at me, as if to say “I don’t wanna know you. There’s something wrong with you.” That freaked me out.
I was introduced to ice when I was doing sex work. A client gave it to me one night and I thought it was just bullshit. Then I was still awake 20 hours later going, “Fuck, how irritating!” I didn’t really think anything of it until I had to work on long shifts and started using it again.
Before I knew it, I couldn’t actually function without ice. The comedown from it was so intense and so severe, and so painful – emotionally, mentally and physically. It’s like the worst depression you’ve ever felt in your life. I’d be angry. I’d cry a lot. I couldn’t do anything, couldn’t talk to anyone. I felt like my body was moving through water; just to walk was hard. I got into a vicious cycle of doing this for about a year, then I went to rehab.
How to Save a Life: Nicole Wiggins on CAHMA's Peer Naloxone Program
In December last year, ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher announced the launch of a training program to respond to opioid overdoses. 200 Canberran peer participants will be trained over two years in overdose management, including administering the opioid antagonist naloxone. Participants will be prescribed naloxone as part of the program. The program has been developed by the Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation (CAHMA), the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association (ATODA) and the Expanding Naloxone Availability in the ACT Committee (ENAACT). The program’s first training module commenced in March. Shortly before the program’s commencement, CAHMA’s manager Nicole Wiggins spoke to User’s News.
User’s News: How does the trial work?
Nicole Wiggins: It’s not a trial. It’s a peer distribution program. I say that because naloxone does not need to be trialled. It’s really tested. We know it works. We know it doesn’t have side-effects. But we have independent researchers evaluating its implementation.