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My Valley, My Story: “I Just Like Getting High”

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Kerry Klein/KVPR
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Fifty-six-year-old Michael, who won’t share his last name, rides a bike or catches the bus every Saturday to obtain clean needles at the Fresno Needle Exchange.";

Earlier this summer, we told you about the public health benefits of the Fresno Needle Exchange, which makes clean syringes available to drug users. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, here’s one of those users—a 56-year-old man named Michael, interviewed at the needle exchange.

“I run my own business, paint addresses on curbs. I worked as a social worker for years, for ten years, and I got burned out on that. I have a daughter. She's 19, she's grown. She's in Dinuba.

“I do a little bit of heroin, but I do mostly crystal and coke. I started using drugs when I was 15. l started smoking weed, drinking, and went to doing acid. I did acid for eight years, always had it always sold it...it's still my drug of choice if I could find real stuff. If I could find real LSD and good mushrooms, I wouldn’t use any other drug.

“I live in the north part of town, up on Sierra between Palm and Maroa. I have to depend on a ride, either get a ride, or take the bus, or ride a bicycle in the sun. I come every week, because it's better to have clean new syringes rather than old syringes when you're shooting dope. I don't even use the same needle to draw up that I use to shoot. I draw up with one and then shoot it. I use two needles every time I inject.”

Michael says he isn’t interested in getting sober; “I just like getting high.”

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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