Watch a video of my prison and opioids play "Streets Like This," performed by actors who have all dealt with incarceration

In 2018, I was commissioned by Civic Ensemble of Ithaca, New York to help devise and write a new play based on their ReEntry Theatre Program — a free arts initiative for people who've experienced incarceration and/or drug rehabilitation. The program participants developed the raw material through theatre games and writing exercises, which I then took and transformed into a full-length script.

Streets Like This originally ran for 3 sold out performances in May 2018, featuring a cast of program participants, whose personal stories of addiction and incarceration inspired the script. The people involved in this show from the start have gone on to make some tremendous policy changes for social services and criminal justice reform in Tompkins County, New York, and decided to remount the show again this spring.

Then the COVID-19 outbreak happened.

But the cast and company got together one last time and filmed their production without an audience. It's streaming now for free between April 30 and May 17, 2020; and since they can't raise any money through ticket sales, they're hoping the video will bring in some donations so they can keep this program going.

Working on this play and getting to know these actors was an eye-opening and inspiring experience for me, and I know it's had a positive impact on their lives, too. I hope you'll check it out, and if you're feeling generous, throw some money their way so they can keep doing good work in changing the ways our society deals with addiction and incarceration. Read the rest

Harm reduction: an opioid "vending machine"

British Columbia -- ground zero for the opioid epidemic in Canada and long a principal point of ingress for heroin -- pioneered the harm-reduction approach with the world's first safe injection sites; now addiction researcher and MD Mark Tyndall wants to go further and end accidental overdoses from fentanyl and other additives by giving registered addicts access to an armored, biometrically controlled "opioid vending machine" that dispenses prescribed amounts of hydromorphone pills without subjecting addicts -- whose lives are often chaotic due to homelessness and the need to steal or prostitute themselves to avoid dope-sickness -- to a bureaucratic process at a pharmacy or clinic. Read the rest