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Tessie Castillo
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Tessie Castillo is the Advocacy and Communications Coordinator at the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, a leading public health and drug policy reform organization in the South. She works, writes, and presents on overdose prevention, drug policy, sex work, HIV/AIDS, and law enforcement safety.

Entries by Tessie Castillo

Police Forum Report Says Syringe Exchange Encourages Drug Treatment, Lowers Injury and Disease

(0) Comments | Posted September 12, 2014 | 6:41 PM


Just when it seems like law enforcement will never buy into the idea of syringe exchange as a tool to reduce disease and prevent needle-stick injury, someone shows up to give hope. A recent conference hosted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF),...

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Saving Lives By Mail

(3) Comments | Posted August 7, 2014 | 5:51 PM


All the talk of community naloxone programs saving lives from drug overdose might leave people in states with no such programs feeling locked out of the party house. It probably doesn't help that these are typically also the states where HIV and hepatitis...

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Opioid Maintenance Therapy: Questions and Controversies

(1) Comments | Posted July 20, 2014 | 7:03 PM

Opioid maintenance therapy, or using a legal opiate to reduce a person's urge to take illicit drugs, has long generated controversy. Scientific evidence supports it as a practical, cost-effective strategy that prevents death and illness generated by street drug use and allows people who suffer from addiction to resume "mainstream"...

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The Drug War Is Crazy... But There Is Hope

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 5:39 PM

We've all heard the statistics. The U.S. has spent billions to combat drug use over the past five decades, yet drugs are purer, cheaper, and more available than ever before. We hold 5 percent of the world's population yet house 20 percent of the world's prisoners, mostly nonviolent drug offenders....

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Drug Relapse Denial and How it Kills

(0) Comments | Posted June 25, 2014 | 10:18 AM


Denial can be deadly. When teenagers aren't educated about sex because adults insist that it's not happening in schools, the outcomes are unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. When we don't teach kids about designated drivers because we deny they would drink underage,...

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Top 5 Reasons Why We Need Over-the-Counter Naloxone to Combat Drug Overdose

(1) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 4:52 PM


As drug overdose reigns as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, naloxone has emerged as one of the most promising solutions to the crisis. A safe, effective antidote to opiate overdose, naloxone access has become the battle cry for...

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When to Kill the Bill: Dilemmas, Compromise, and Overdose Prevention Laws

(0) Comments | Posted May 27, 2014 | 2:53 PM

How much compromise is too much? It's a question that plagues policy advocates when their champion legislation is watered down or stuffed with pork in legislative committees. For advocates who fight for 911 Good Samaritan and naloxone access laws to prevent drug overdose deaths, the decision on what to do...

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In Defense of Giving Naloxone to Cops

(0) Comments | Posted May 6, 2014 | 3:41 PM


Shortly after my most recent article on the rise of peer-based naloxone distribution was published in, I received a kind email from the mother of a drug user thanking me for questioning the efficacy of naloxone programs that distribute to...

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Georgia Governor Signs 911 Medical Amnesty/ Naloxone Law

(0) Comments | Posted April 25, 2014 | 12:53 PM


On Thursday April 24, 2014 Georgia became the 15th state in the union to enact a 911 Medical Amnesty law granting limited prosecutorial immunity to people who seek help during a drug or alcohol overdose. It is also the 19th state to extend...

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What Do Prosecutors and District Attorneys Say About 911 Good Samaritan Laws?

(0) Comments | Posted April 16, 2014 | 11:57 AM

With the drug overdose epidemic still raging, 911 Good Samaritan and Naloxone Access laws are sweeping the country as states struggle to seek solutions that can turn back the tide of deaths. Currently, 18 states have implemented naloxone laws, 14 have medical amnesty laws on the books, and many more...

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Top Seven Crazy Myths About Drug Overdose Antidote, Naloxone

(1) Comments | Posted March 31, 2014 | 5:29 PM

With fatalities from heroin and prescription drugs still on the rise, naloxone, an opiate reversal medication, has become an increasingly popular method to prevent overdose death. Paramedics have used naloxone since the 1960s to block the effect of opiate drugs and restore normal breathing patterns to someone experiencing an overdose,...

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With Suicide, Drug Overdose, We Need to Stop Blaming the Parents

(0) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 1:20 PM

Recently, friends of mine lost their 20-year-old son to suicide. The loss was as devastating as it was unexpected, as the young man has a loving family and a good home. And although the parents are exemplary people and this pain is undeserved, it is likely they will face the...

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Why Georgia Desperately Needs Naloxone

(0) Comments | Posted February 18, 2014 | 3:03 PM

Like millions of other Americans, Atlanta resident Kathy Fletcher depends on prescription drugs to alleviate chronic pain. Medications such as OxyContin and oxycodone have helped her cope with arthritis and the devastating effects of chemotherapy and radiation as she battles cancer. She gets the medications from her doctor and always...

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Media Descriptions of Philip Seymour Hoffman Feed Into Misplaced Fears About Heroin Overdose and Needles

(1) Comments | Posted February 5, 2014 | 1:08 PM

By now we've all heard of the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. On the Internet, descriptions abound of the legendary actor sprawled on the apartment floor in his boxers, surrounded by packets of heroin. And not one news outlet from Fox News to CNN has failed to mention the...

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A Conservative Argument for Harm Reduction

(0) Comments | Posted January 13, 2014 | 5:45 PM

Last year the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition surprised the nation by working with conservative legislators to pass two new drug policy laws in their state. But although the harm reduction philosophy of "meeting people where they are at" is sometimes at odds with conservatives' stricter approach to drug use,...

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How I Made Peace with Harm Reduction

(0) Comments | Posted November 9, 2013 | 10:36 AM

The first time I ever heard the phrase "harm reduction" I was sprawled across my living room couch watching the news with my husband. The feature story covered a nonprofit handing out sterile syringes to heroin users on the US-Mexican border in an effort to prevent disease transmission from shared...

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Faith and Harm Reduction: The True Meaning of "All God's Children"

(0) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 11:49 AM

It's easy to drive by Catalyst Community Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, without noticing it. Tucked into an old strip mall next to a tire shop, the crumbling parking lot and bland brick walls don't exactly invite closer inspection. But inside the humble exterior, wondrous things are happening. At Catalyst,...

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Saving Lives with Narcan: Stories from the Field

(1) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 11:40 AM

Eliza Moore never saw herself as much of a hero, certainly not one who would save the lives of multiple strangers. But thanks to a new state law that increased the availability of naloxone, or Narcan, a safe, non-addictive medication that reverses opiate overdose, saving lives is now all in...

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When Doctors Refuse to Prescribe Life-Saving Medication

(1) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 10:57 AM

Medical providers take an oath to protect the health of their patients, but in some instances, doctors may fail to prescribe life-saving medications over legal concerns, logistical barriers, or even personal prejudices. Such is often the case with naloxone, a medication used to reverse drug overdose from opioid pain relievers...

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A Real Shawshank Redemption: One Man's Journey from Prison Bars to the Bar Exam

(2) Comments | Posted October 7, 2013 | 11:45 AM

Attorney Daryl Atkinson of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice is known for passionate oratories on the need for criminal justice reform. An articulate man of bold stature and impeccable dress, one might never guess he was once a street hustler facing 99 years in prison for drug trafficking, nor...

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