Welcome to Drugs & Stuff. We're a podcast about drugs, harm reduction, mass criminalization, the drug war, and other stuff from the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) – the nation's leading organization working to end the war on drugs.
We bring in a wide variety of experts – from scientists to activists, writers to teachers – to hear about how drugs and drug policy play a role in their work and lives.
We also offer a peek behind the scenes as we feature DPA staff talking about the work they do.
Follow us on Twitter @drugsnstuffDPA
Episode 40: Christine Minhee on the Promises and Perils of Opioid Litigation
Today, news broke that the Department of Justice has reached an $8 billion-plus settlement with Purdue Pharma for its role in the opioid crisis. This money should be used to combat the public health emergency of overdose deaths, but another public health emergency -- the COVID-19 pandemic -- has taken hold of media coverage and government spending. As overdose deaths continue to increase, where will this money actually go? We sat down with Christine Minhee, an expert on opioid litigation and creator of the opioid settlement tracker: a project that asks, "Will opioid settlements actually be spent in ways that bolster the public health response to drug addiction?" She spoke with Mary Sylla, a senior staff attorney with DPA, about what opioid litigation is, why it’s so complex, how it ties into our current moment, and what her pie in the sky dream for a settlement would look like.
To see more of Christine’s work, visit opioidsettlementtracker.com. For more information on DPA’s work to prevent fatal overdose, visit drugpolicy.org/overdose.
Episode 39: After Her Son Overdosed and Died, Jessie Dunleavy Realized it Was Preventable
Jessie Dunleavy always knew her son Paul was unique. He struggled throughout his life -- to learn, to be accepted -- and she tried however she could to help him along the way. But as he got older, and began to struggle with drug use, system after system began to shut them out. Where he needed hope, he got silence; where he needed support, he got punishment. In April 2017, Paul overdosed and died. Devastated by his passing, Jessie began to learn as much as she could. In the process, she uncovered unknown details of her son’s life, glimpsed the depth of the injustices he was subjected to, and realized that his death had been preventable. In her new memoir, Cover My Dreams in Ink, she chronicles her journey from concerned mother to outspoken advocate.
Visit Jessie’s website for more information about her work and her book. To learn more about the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition and The Maryland Harm Reduction Action Network, visit baltimoreharmreduction.org and/or check out @BmoreHRC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For DPA’s work around overdose prevention, visit drugpolicy.org/overdose.
Episode 38: Keri Blakinger Reports on the Criminal Justice System That Once Held Her
Keri Blakinger has worked for years as a journalist (currently at The Marshall Project) covering the criminal justice system and exposing the abuses within it. She comes with experience that most reporters don’t -- in 2010, she was arrested for drug possession and spent two years in the system herself. Matt Sutton, DPA's Director of Media Relations, who also has first-hand experience of the system due to a drug charge, sat down to talk with her. In their discussion, they reflect on the obstacles they have faced in their lives as a result of having a record, how it affects Keri’s reporting, and what changes are needed in a system that still prioritizes punitive measures over anything else.
You can follow Keri @keribla on Twitter. To learn more about DPA’s work on these issues, visit drugpolicy.org/criminaljustice.
Episode 37: Police Militarization is Not Normal
In her own community in Santa Fe, New Mexico, DPA Senior Director Emily Kaltenbach sees police with assault rifles, submachine guns, grenade launchers, and even tanks. To help us understand the far-reaching implications of the presence of this military equipment, Emily joined us to explain the policy, practices, and history behind the militarization of police, and how deeply embedded it is as a tactic of fighting the failed drug war. As an expert in local-level reform, she lays out the key reform initiatives necessary to demilitarize police and ensure real public safety.
Episode 36: “Puff or Pass”: What Law & Order SVU Has to Say About Drugs and Policing
On the latest edition of our “Puff or Pass” series examining how drugs and people who use drugs are portrayed in pop culture, DPA’s marketing coordinator Ifetayo Harvey digs into a recent episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In a dramatic episode that covers many angles -- from problematic drug use to corrupt medical providers, from the intersection of drug policy with other systems to opioid overdose -- one question ties it all together: are the cops portrayed in SVU an accurate reflection of the cops we see in reality?
Note that the opinions on Puff or Pass are the guest's own, and don't necessarily represent the official position of DPA.
Episode 35: Kerwin Kaye on How Drug Courts Coerce, Control, and Continue to Harm Communities in Need
Drug courts -- programs that seek to reduce drug use through mandated treatment and close judicial oversight -- sound like a good alternative to incarceration. In theory they are thought to save money and increase access to treatment but in practice they cherry-pick eligible participants and allow judges to preside over treatment decisions. Kerwin Kaye, Associate Professor of Sociology, American Studies, and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University, recently published a book entitled "Enforcing Freedom: Drug Courts, Therapeutic Communities, and the Intimacies of the State." He sat down with Deputy Director of DPA’s Department of Research and Academic Engagement Dr. Sheila P. Vakharia -- whose background in social work makes her no stranger to drug courts -- for a fascinating conversation that dove deep into his ethnographic research and the many issues with the drug court model. They discussed how drug court practices often discriminate against and penalize Black and poor users while insulating those who are white and more class privileged. Kaye’s insights are particularly timely, as we see increasing calls for decriminalization and alternatives to incarceration.
Kerwin Kaye’s book is available through Columbia University Press.
To read DPA’s 2011 report on drug courts, visit https://www.drugpolicy.org/drugcourts.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Very informative but....
Does everyone need to say “right?” at the end of so many statements? Right? It gets very distracting right? It takes away from the content right? It serves no purpose right?
Educator, in service to people in recovery, and personally impacted
An excellent podcast. Years of experiencing, in my various capacities, substance use issues - have led me to understand just how problematic our societal approach to dealing with these problems has been. This is a forward thinking podcast. It’s much appreciated and necessary.
Excellent topics, poor audio quality.
The show is great and serves an important purpose for the American people, but you guys have to figure out a way to ensure the show doesn’t sound like it’s being recorded in a bathroom.
Higher quality will ensure the message has a cleaner, professional image, while also increasing listening enjoyment.