More Disturbing Bullying Accusations Levied Against Bijou Phillips Details HERE

We’re still reeling after all the news came out days ago about Mean Girls actor Daniel Franzese being bullied and shamed so badly by Bijou Phillips on the set of their film Bully… and now, more allegations are coming out.

Franzese went on actress Heather Matarazzo‘s Shut Up And Listen podcast a couple days ago to talk about bullying and the industry in general, and during the show, Matarazzo opened up about her own disturbing experiences with Bijou Phillips.

Related: Bryan Cranston Says Kevin Spacey’s Career Is ‘Over’!

On the podcast (which you can listen to in full HERE), Matarazzo recalls a particularly bad memory from a decade ago while filming Hostel: Part II, where a producer had offered her pills to help with jet lag before filming one day.

Matarazzo, who had been sober and clean for a year at that point after previously struggling with pills, kept turning them down to avoid the temptation, opting instead to deal with the jet lag.

She then recounts how Phillips, seeing all this, allegedly grabbed Matarazzo around the neck and choked her while saying (below):

“I’m going to make you relapse on this film.”

What in the fuck?!

The whole thing, and some more deeper discussion about bullying and the industry in general, is worth a listen on the podcast itself, as Franzese pointed out in a tweet earlier this week.


Thoughts, Perezcious readers?!

[Image via FayesVision/WENN.]

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Fellow porn stars say August Ames’ death is connected to cyberbullying


Porn actress August Ames has died. The medical examiner’s office in Ventura County confirmed her death Wednesday, XBIZ reported. Ames was 23.

“She was the kindest person I ever knew and she meant the world to me,” Ames’ husband Kevin Moore said in a statement. “Please leave this as a private family matter in this difficult time.”

The cause of death has not been disclosed, according to XBIZ.

Ames’ death spurred a Twitter conversation among people in the porn industry about cyberbullying and porn actors’ rights to choose who they work with. Ames’ friends, including porn star Anikka Albrite, reportedly connected Ames’ death to a heated online debate that took place in the days before she died.

Ames tweeted on Sunday suggesting that she did not work with men who have done gay porn.

Ames immediately received backlash and was called homophobic. But she argued she made the choice not to film with men who have shot gay porn because of health and safety concerns.

The actress defended herself, saying she could choose who she wanted to work with and that she was not homophobic since she was attracted to women.

Following her death, friends of Ames and others indicated she was suffering from depression and dealing with online bullying.

Ames’ last tweet said, “fuck y’all.”

Brazzers, a porn website, tweeted its condolences to Ames’ friends and family, saying it would postpone the release of a video with Ames that was scheduled for Wednesday night.

Other porn websites, including Babes, Digital Playground, and Trendzzz, also expressed their condolences.

For more information about suicide prevention or to speak with someone confidentially, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) or Samaritans (U.K.). 

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Project Runway Contestant Wendy Pepper Passes Away

She will be missed…

According to the Washington Post, Project Runway contestant Wendy Pepper — born Anne Eustis Pepper — passed away on Sunday November 12, 2017 “surrounded by her loving family.”

The designer competed on the first season of the hit reality TV competition show where she placed third, and appeared on the second season of Project Runway All Stars where she was eliminated in the second episode.

Related: Project Runway Fan Favorite Mychael Knight Dead At 39

Lifetime released the following statement:

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of another member of the Project Runway family, designer Wendy Pepper, this year… Wendy was one of the original designers that sent creations down the catwalk, paving the way for other designers to come. We wish her family and friends peace during this difficult time.”

Her death notice read:

“She was an artist who proudly forged her own path in life. A finalist on season one of Project Runway, Wendy designed and hand-sewed exceptionally beautiful clothes for children and adults… She was a chef, a writer, and a life-long entrepreneur. Her wit and humor were unmatched, as was her generosity of spirit.”

R.I.P. Wendy.

[Image via Lifetime.]

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You FIRST! Conservatives fact-HAMMER Kamala Harriss latest lies and threats about GOP tax bill

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Kamala Harris is a disingenuous, pandering liar who wouldn’t know the truth if it fell out of the sky, landed on her face and started to wiggle.

Democrats are lying their backsides off about the GOP tax bill, but none of them are quite as obnoxious as Kamala:

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Trump’s Retweets Promote Hate Group Founded by Immigrant-Hunting Criminal

When President Donald Trump retweeted anti-Muslim propaganda videos Monday morning, he was promoting Britain First, an extremist group whose founding members have stormed mosques, gone on immigrant-hunting patrols, and been accused of sexual assault.

Britain First is Trumps kind of hate group. Founded by an anti-Muslim, anti-abortion hardliner who quit a post in the British National Party over a sexual harassment allegation, Britain First leads invasions of mosques, and so-called Christian patrols during which members march the streets harassing Muslims. And now those same extremists are thanking Trump for the endorsement.

Jim Dowson, a former Calvinist minister who spent his early career attached to anti-Catholic campaigns, founded the group. Dowson is a former member of the Orange Order, a conservative group involved in violent anti-Catholic clashes in Northern Ireland. During his tenure with the group, Dowson reportedly organized a controversial flute band that produced songs celebrating Michael Stone, a Protestant militant who murdered three people and wounded over 60 others in an attack on a Catholic funeral in 1988.

Dowson is an anti-abortion extremist, and used a website to dox workers at sexual-health clinics, allegedly spurring his followers to harass them.

I think that's nonsense, Dowson told the Belfast Telegraph when asked whether he was inviting people to harass the health workers. You read the newspaper every day of the week, you get people's names and addresses.

After falling out of the Orange Order (atheists and boozers, he accused of the hardline Protestant group), Dowson took on an administrative role with the far-right British National Party. But that relationship also soured, after a BNP activist accused the ultra-religious Dowson of sexual misconduct.

The activist, Shelley Rose, accused Dowson of luring her to a hotel room after a BNP event.

"I decided it was safer to stay with him, as it was too late to get home, because he was a religious and family man and didn't think there would be a problem, Rose said, according to the Daily Record. "We both had on our nightclothes. I felt these clammy, sweaty hands crawling up my leg. He was kissing me. Then he got on top of me and I told him to stop.

Dowson stopped, but rather than apologize for the advance, he started to verbally abuse me and told me I was frigid, had emotional issues and was a wreck, Rose alleged. Dowson denied all Roses allegations, but quit the party, stating that he was done with politics.

Seven months later, he launched Britain First, an explicitly anti-Muslim group. He was arrested and charged for participating in an unlawful demonstration after a nationalist demonstration with Britain First in 2012, but left the group in 2014, claiming opposition to the groups marches on mosques

Dowson is also an avowed Trump fan. During the 2016 election, Dowson founded a network of pro-Trump websites that peddled lurid headlines and hoaxes tying Hillary Clinton to Satanism and pedophilia. Bombshell: Hillary Clintons Satanic Network Exposed, read one headline on Dowsons Patriot News Agency, a hoax site with an eagle logo and the motto built by patriots, for patriots.

Contrary to its motto, the Patriot News Agency was based in the U.K., and courted Russian viewers, the New York Times reported last year. The site nurtured a following on VKontakte, a Russian social media network, leading to questions over the sites potential collaboration with Russian interests. Dowson is also a vocal defender of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has spoken at the International Russian Conservative Forum, a gathering of the worlds far-right fringe personalities.

During a 2015 speech at the conference, Dowson projected a picture of Putin riding a bear shirtless. Obama and America, they are like females. They are feminized men, Dowson said, according to the Times. But you have been blessed by a man who is a man, and we envy that.

In his post-Britain First years, Dowson has also become involved in the Knights Templar International, an extreme anti-immigrant group, and last fall was filmed in a military uniform with militants from the Bulgarian National Movement, who patrol Bulgarias borders hunting immigrants with knives and bayonets.

We are on the Bulgarian Turkish border on patrol and looking for illegals. The dedication these guys have got is very impressive, Dowson says in the film. Today, the Knights Templar International brought along vests and ballistics and drones and night vision, stuff that these guys desperately need.

Meanwhile, Britain First other leaders have continued the groups anti-Muslim campaign at home. The group is currently headed by Paul Golding, reportedly a former member of the neo-Nazi group the National Front. Like Dowson, Golding is a former member of the far-right, anti-immigrant BNP. But unlike Dowson, who quit the party following the sexual harassment allegation, Golding was kicked out after he physically assaulted the groups only non-white member, a half-Turkish man, according to the Evening Standard.

Since taking up the helm at Britain First, Golding has led a campaign of harassment against Muslims and minorities in the U.K., resulting in his repeated arrest. In 2015, Golding was convicted of harassment and illegally wearing a political uniform, after he attempted to visit the home of a man allegedly involved in the 2005 London bombings. But due to a confusion in addresses, Golding harassed the mans sister-in-laws home. After harassing Muslims in a series of mosque invasions, Golding was banned from entering the religious sites, but was subsequently arrested for entering more mosques.

Golding and Britain First have taken to fundraising off his arrests, claiming the charges prove he is fighting powerful forces. On at least one occasion, Golding went as far as faking his arrest, claiming local police had raided his home with dogs. Police later clarified that Golding had showed up at a police station of his own volition, without a warrant for his arrest.

He and fellow Britain First leader Jayda Fransen were charged in September with a combined seven counts of religiously aggravated harassment for distributing anti-Muslim leaflets and posting illegally filmed footage of a trial.

Fransen has previously pleaded guilty to harassing a Muslim woman on one of Britain Firsts Christian patrols, where she verbally abused a woman wearing a headscarf.

Trump retweeted three of Fransens anti-Muslim videos Monday morning.

Hours after Trumps retweets, a spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May made a rare condemnation of Trumps actions, calling them wrong.

Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions, the spokesperson said. British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far-right, which is the antithesis of the values that this country representsdecency, tolerance and respect.

But Fransen, a fringe figure, was overjoyed at the new attention for her propaganda videos.


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Tax on takeaway boxes to be considered

Image copyright Getty Images

A tax on takeaway boxes is to be considered in an attempt to tackle the problem of plastic waste.

In Wednesday’s Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to call for evidence on whether a tax on the use of the most environmentally damaging single-use plastics would help.

Single-use plastics include packaging, bubble wrap, and polystyrene takeaway boxes.

Greenpeace said ocean plastic pollution was “a global emergency”.

Meanwhile, Stephen Hammond, a close friend of the chancellor, has told the BBC the chancellor wants to use the Budget to “attack problems” that contributed to the Tories’ poor election performance.

He plans to use “headroom” in the public finances to target spending on housing and health, the former transport minister told Newsnight.


The Treasury said the work on a potential plastic tax would examine the lifecycle of single-use plastics.

It did not suggest the investigation would include plastic bottles, which can be recycled, although in practice many also end up in land-fill or the sea.

However, the government has already said it would consider whether to introduce a “reward and return” scheme for plastic bottles to try to improve recycling rates.

The Treasury said the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year in the UK would fill London’s Royal Albert Hall 1,000 times, and cited the success of the 5p charge on plastic bags to illustrate the feasibility of a levy.

Birds, sea mammals and turtles die from consuming or becoming tangled in plastic waste.

Sir David Attenborough recently described the “heartbreaking” sight of an albatross feeding plastic to its young chick instead of fish.

Sue Kinsey, senior pollution policy officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said plastic was a “complete menace” in the marine environment.

“It takes a long time to break down and it’s almost indigestible if animals eat it.

“The real danger is that animals are starving to death with stomachs full of plastic.”

‘Dumped rubbish’

Tisha Brown, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said the move “recognises the significance of the problem and the urgent need for a solution.”

But shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman criticised the government for “warm words” on the environment while underfunding services and failing to enshrine EU protections in UK law.

She said: “While we support initiatives to decrease the use of non-recyclable materials, the slump in recycling figures and significant increase in litter and dumped rubbish under this government requires a far more strategic approach.”

The call for evidence is expected to be launched in early 2018.

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Study Finds No Evidence That Consuming Part Of Your Own Body Can Reduce Postpartum Depression

Whether it’s popping pills like Kim and Kourtney or consuming it raw in a smoothie like actor Gaby Hoffman, eating placenta has been the latest alternative maternity trend to hit the mainstream. But in case you were wondering whether or not it’s a good idea to follow suit, the latest research suggests it’s best to sit this one out.

Not only does it put your child at risk (the CDC issued a health warning this summer), it appears the health benefits have been over-exaggerated. According to a study recently published in Women and Birth, new mothers who take placenta capsules show no significant improvement in maternal mood, mother-infant bonding, or fatigue.

The placenta develops during pregnancy to supply the fetus with nutrition and discard its waste. The theory goes that post-labor, the nutrients that have been passed from mother to fetus during pregnancy persist in the placenta and eating it raw helps the mother recover from childbirth. The practice has been gaining increasing popularity in recent years with proponents claiming that placenta pills can ease fatigue, prevent post-natal depression, and improve milk production.

Advocates also point out that humans are one of the relatively few species of mammal that don’t partake in placentophagy (the scientific name for eating the placenta). While this might be true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we should do the same. As Rebecca Baergen, a professor and Chief of Perinatal and Obstetric Pathology at Weill Cornell Medicine, pointed out in an interview with Scientific American, “there are a lot of other things that animals do that we don’t do.”

Still, until now, there has been relatively little science that has looked into the effects – beneficial or not – of eating your placenta.

Researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, monitored maternal mood, mother-infant bonding, and fatigue levels in 27 new mothers. Twelve volunteers were given placenta pills to take. The remaining 15 were given placebo pills.

Ultimately, there was no significant improvement in any of the categories measured, though the researchers did note very slight decreases in depressive symptoms in the placenta pill group, which could be investigated further. There were also small but noticeable changes in hormone concentrations.

“What we have uncovered are interesting areas for future exploration, such as small impacts on hormone levels for women taking placenta capsules, and small improvements in mood and fatigue in the placenta group,” Sharon Young, lead author of the study, explained in a statement.

It was a small study so it would be interesting to see whether these findings can be replicated on a larger scale, but while experts advise against the practice, and with pills costing upwards of $200, for now, it might be a trend to skip.

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Portugals radical drugs policy is working. Why hasnt the world copied it?

The long read: Since it decriminalised all drugs in 2001, Portugal has seen dramatic drops in overdoses, HIV infection and drug-related crime

When the drugs came, they hit all at once. It was the 80s, and by the time one in 10 people had slipped into the depths of heroin use bankers, university students, carpenters, socialites, miners Portugal was in a state of panic.

lvaro Pereira was working as a family doctor in Olho in southern Portugal. People were injecting themselves in the street, in public squares, in gardens, he told me. At that time, not a day passed when there wasnt a robbery at a local business, or a mugging.

The crisis began in the south. The 80s were a prosperous time in Olho, a fishing town 31 miles west of the Spanish border. Coastal waters filled fishermens nets from the Gulf of Cdiz to Morocco, tourism was growing, and currency flowed throughout the southern Algarve region. But by the end of the decade, heroin began washing up on Olhos shores. Overnight, Pereiras beloved slice of the Algarve coast became one of the drug capitals of Europe: one in every 100 Portuguese was battling a problematic heroin addiction at that time, but the number was even higher in the south. Headlines in the local press raised the alarm about overdose deaths and rising crime. The rate of HIV infection in Portugal became the highest in the European Union. Pereira recalled desperate patients and families beating a path to his door, terrified, bewildered, begging for help. I got involved, he said, only because I was ignorant.

In truth, there was a lot of ignorance back then. Forty years of authoritarian rule under the regime established by Antnio Salazar in 1933 had suppressed education, weakened institutions and lowered the school-leaving age, in a strategy intended to keep the population docile. The country was closed to the outside world; people missed out on the experimentation and mind-expanding culture of the 1960s. When the regime ended abruptly in a military coup in 1974, Portugal was suddenly opened to new markets and influences. Under the old regime, Coca-Cola was banned and owning a cigarette lighter required a licence. When marijuana and then heroin began flooding in, the country was utterly unprepared.

Pereira tackled the growing wave of addiction the only way he knew how: one patient at a time. A student in her 20s who still lived with her parents might have her family involved in her recovery; a middle-aged man, estranged from his wife and living on the street, faced different risks and needed a different kind of support. Pereira improvised, calling on institutions and individuals in the community to lend a hand.

In 2001, nearly two decades into Pereiras accidental specialisation in addiction, Portugal became the first country to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances. Rather than being arrested, those caught with a personal supply might be given a warning, a small fine, or told to appear before a local commission a doctor, a lawyer and a social worker about treatment, harm reduction, and the support services that were available to them.

The opioid crisis soon stabilised, and the ensuing years saw dramatic drops in problematic drug use, HIV and hepatitis infection rates, overdose deaths, drug-related crime and incarceration rates. HIV infection plummeted from an all-time high in 2000 of 104.2 new cases per million to 4.2 cases per million in 2015. The data behind these changes has been studied and cited as evidence by harm-reduction movements around the globe. Its misleading, however, to credit these positive results entirely to a change in law.

Portugals remarkable recovery, and the fact that it has held steady through several changes in government including conservative leaders who would have preferred to return to the US-style war on drugs could not have happened without an enormous cultural shift, and a change in how the country viewed drugs, addiction and itself. In many ways, the law was merely a reflection of transformations that were already happening in clinics, in pharmacies and around kitchen tables across the country. The official policy of decriminalisation made it far easier for a broad range of services (health, psychiatry, employment, housing etc) that had been struggling to pool their resources and expertise, to work together more effectively to serve their communities.

The language began to shift, too. Those who had been referred to sneeringly as drogados (junkies) became known more broadly, more sympathetically, and more accurately, as people who use drugs or people with addiction disorders. This, too, was crucial.

It is important to note that Portugal stabilised its opioid crisis, but it didnt make it disappear. While drug-related death, incarceration and infection rates plummeted, the country still had to deal with the health complications of long-term problematic drug use. Diseases including hepatitis C, cirrhosis and liver cancer are a burden on a health system that is still struggling to recover from recession and cutbacks. In this way, Portugals story serves as a warning of challenges yet to come.

Despite enthusiastic international reactions to Portugals success, local harm-reduction advocates have been frustrated by what they see as stagnation and inaction since decriminalisation came into effect. They criticise the state for dragging its feet on establishing supervised injection sites and drug consumption facilities; for failing to make the anti-overdose medication naloxone more readily available; for not implementing needle-exchange programmes in prisons. Where, they ask, is the courageous spirit and bold leadership that pushed the country to decriminalise drugs in the first place?

In the early days of Portugals panic, when Pereiras beloved Olho began falling apart in front of him, the states first instinct was to attack. Drugs were denounced as evil, drug users were demonised, and proximity to either was criminally and spiritually punishable. The Portuguese government launched a series of national anti-drug campaigns that were less Just Say No and more Drugs Are Satan.

Informal treatment approaches and experiments were rushed into use throughout the country, as doctors, psychiatrists, and pharmacists worked independently to deal with the flood of drug-dependency disorders at their doors, sometimes risking ostracism or arrest to do what they believed was best for their patients.

In 1977, in the north of the country, psychiatrist Eduno Lopes pioneered a methadone programme at the Centro da Boavista in Porto. Lopes was the first doctor in continental Europe to experiment with substitution therapy, flying in methadone powder from Boston, under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice, rather than the Ministry of Health. His efforts met with a vicious public backlash and the disapproval of his peers, who considered methadone therapy nothing more than state-sponsored drug addiction.

In Lisbon, Odette Ferreira, an experienced pharmacist and pioneering HIV researcher, started an unofficial needle-exchange programme to address the growing Aids crisis. She received death threats from drug dealers, and legal threats from politicians. Ferreira who is now in her 90s, and still has enough swagger to carry off long fake eyelashes and red leather at a midday meeting started giving away clean syringes in the middle of Europes biggest open-air drug market, in the Casal Ventoso neighbourhood of Lisbon. She collected donations of clothing, soap, razors, condoms, fruit and sandwiches, and distributed them to users. When dealers reacted with hostility, she snapped back: Dont mess with me. You do your job, and Ill do mine. She then bullied the Portuguese Association of Pharmacies into running the countrys and indeed the worlds first national needle-exchange programme.

A flurry of expensive private clinics and free, faith-based facilities emerged, promising detoxes and miracle cures, but the first public drug-treatment centre run by the Ministry of Health the Centro das Taipas in Lisbon did not begin operating until 1987. Strapped for resources in Olho, Pereira sent a few patients for treatment, although he did not agree with the abstinence-based approach used at Taipas. First you take away the drug, and then, with psychotherapy, you plug up the crack, said Pereira. There was no scientific evidence to show that this would work and it didnt.

He also sent patients to Lopess methadone programme in Porto, and found that some responded well. But Porto was at the other end of the country. He wanted to try methadone for his patients, but the Ministry of Health hadnt yet approved it for use. To get around that, Pereira sometimes asked a nurse to sneak methadone to him in the boot of his car.

Pereiras work treating patients for addiction eventually caught the attention of the Ministry of Health. They heard there was a crazy man in the Algarve who was working on his own, he said, with a slow smile. Now 68, he is sprightly and charming, with an athletic build, thick and wavy white hair that bounces when he walks, a gravelly drawl and a bottomless reserve of warmth. They came down to find me at the clinic and proposed that I open a treatment centre, he said. He invited a colleague from at a family practice in the next town over to join him a young local doctor named Joo Goulo.

Goulo was a 20-year-old medical student when he was offered his first hit of heroin. He declined because he didnt know what it was. By the time he finished school, got his licence and began practising medicine at a health centre in the southern city of Faro, it was everywhere. Like Pereira, he accidentally ended up specialising in treating drug addiction.

A nurse hands out methadone to addicts in Lisbon. Photograph: Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images

The two young colleagues joined forces to open southern Portugals first CAT in 1988. (These kinds of centres have used different names and acronyms over the years, but are still commonly referred to as Centros de Atendimento a Toxicodependentes, or CATs.) Local residents were vehemently opposed, and the doctors were improvising treatments as they went along. The following month, Pereira and Goulo opened a second CAT in Olho, and other family doctors opened more in the north and central regions, forming a loose network. It had become clear to a growing number of practitioners that the most effective response to addiction had to be personal, and rooted in communities. Treatment was still small-scale, local and largely ad hoc.

The first official call to change Portugals drug laws came from Rui Pereira, a former constitutional court judge who undertook an overhaul of the penal code in 1996. He found the practice of jailing people for taking drugs to be counterproductive and unethical. My thought right off the bat was that it wasnt legitimate for the state to punish users, he told me in his office at the University of Lisbons school of law. At that time, about half of the people in prison were there for drug-related reasons, and the epidemic, he said, was thought to be an irresolvable problem. He recommended that drug use be discouraged without imposing penalties, or further alienating users. His proposals werent immediately adopted, but they did not go unnoticed.

In 1997, after 10 years of running the CAT in Faro, Goulo was invited to help design and lead a national drug strategy. He assembled a team of experts to study potential solutions to Portugals drug problem. The resulting recommendations, including the full decriminalisation of drug use, were presented in 1999, approved by the council of ministers in 2000, and a new national plan of action came into effect in 2001.

Today, Goulo is Portugals drug czar. He has been the lodestar throughout eight alternating conservative and progressive administrations; through heated standoffs with lawmakers and lobbyists; through shifts in scientific understanding of addiction and in cultural tolerance for drug use; through austerity cuts, and through a global policy climate that only very recently became slightly less hostile. Goulo is also decriminalisations busiest global ambassador. He travels almost non-stop, invited again and again to present the successes of Portugals harm-reduction experiment to authorities around the world, from Norway to Brazil, which are dealing with desperate situations in their own countries.

These social movements take time, Goulo told me. The fact that this happened across the board in a conservative society such as ours had some impact. If the heroin epidemic had affected only Portugals lower classes or racialised minorities, and not the middle or upper classes, he doubts the conversation around drugs, addiction and harm reduction would have taken shape in the same way. There was a point whenyou could not find a single Portuguese family that wasnt affected. Every family had their addict, or addicts. This was universal in a way that the society felt: We have to do something.

Portugals policy rests on three pillars: one, that theres no such thing as a soft or hard drug, only healthy and unhealthy relationships with drugs; two, that an individuals unhealthy relationship with drugs often conceals frayed relationships with loved ones, with the world around them, and with themselves; and three, that the eradication of all drugs is an impossible goal.

The national policy is to treat each individual differently, Goulo told me. The secret is for us to be present.

A drop-in centre called IN-Mouraria sits unobtrusively in a lively, rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood of Lisbon, a longtime enclave of marginalised communities. From 2pm to 4pm, the centre provides services to undocumented migrants and refugees; from 5pm to 8pm, they open their doors to drug users. A staff of psychologists, doctors and peer support workers (themselves former drug users) offer clean needles, pre-cut squares of foil, crack kits, sandwiches, coffee, clean clothing, toiletries, rapid HIV testing, and consultations all free and anonymous.

On the day I visited, young people stood around waiting for HIV test results while others played cards, complained about police harassment, tried on outfits, traded advice on living situations, watched movies and gave pep talks to one another. They varied in age, religion, ethnicity and gender identity, and came from all over the country and all over the world. When a slender, older man emerged from the bathroom, unrecognisable after having shaved his beard off, an energetic young man who had been flipping through magazines threw up his arms and cheered. He then turned to a quiet man sitting on my other side, his beard lush and dark hair curling from under his cap, and said: What about you? Why dont you go shave off that beard? You cant give up on yourself, man. Thats when its all over. The bearded man cracked a smile.

During my visits over the course of a month, I got to know some of the peer support workers, including Joo, a compact man with blue eyes who was rigorous in going over the details and nuances of what I was learning. Joo wanted to be sure I understood their role at the drop-in centre was not to force anyone to stop using, but to help minimise the risks users were exposed to.

Our objective is not to steer people to treatment they have to want it, he told me. But even when they do want to stop using, he continued, having support workers accompany them to appointments and treatment facilities can feel like a burden on the user and if the treatment doesnt go well, there is the risk that that person will feel too ashamed to return to the drop-in centre. Then we lose them, and thats not what we want to do, Joo said. I want them to come back when they relapse. Failure was part of the treatment process, he told me. And he would know.

Joo is a marijuana-legalisation activist, open about being HIV-positive, and after being absent for part of his sons youth, he is delighting in his new role as a grandfather. He had stopped doing speedballs (mixtures of cocaine and opiates) after several painful, failed treatment attempts, each more destructive than the last. He long used cannabis as a form of therapy methadone did not work for him, nor did any of the inpatient treatment programmes he tried but the cruel hypocrisy of decriminalisation meant that although smoking weed was not a criminal offence, purchasing it was. His last and worst relapse came when he went to buy marijuana from his usual dealer and was told: I dont have that right now, but I do have some good cocaine. Joo said no thanks and drove away, but soon found himself heading to a cash machine, and then back to the dealer. After this relapse, he embarked on a new relationship, and started his own business. At one point he had more than 30 employees. Then the financial crisis hit. Clients werent paying, and creditors started knocking on my door, he told me. Within six months I had burned through everything I had built up over four or five years.

Addicts waiting for methadone at a drug treatment project in Lisbon. Photograph: Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images

In the mornings, I followed the centres street teams out to the fringes of Lisbon. I met Raquel and Sareia their slim forms swimming in the large hi-vis vests they wear on their shifts who worked with Crescer na Maior, a harm-reduction NGO. Six times a week, they loaded up a large white van with drinking water, wet wipes, gloves, boxes of tinfoil and piles of state-issued drug kits: green plastic pouches with single-use servings of filtered water, citric acid, a small metal tray for cooking, gauze, filter and a clean syringe. Portugal does not yet have any supervised injection sites (although there is legislation to allow them, several attempts to open one have come to nothing), so, Raquel and Sareia told me, they go out to the open-air sites where they know people go to buy and use. Both are trained psychologists, but out in the streets they are known simply as the needle girls.

Good afternoon! Raquel called out cheerily, as we walked across a seemingly abandoned lot in an area called Cruz Vermelha. Street team! People materialised from their hiding places like some strange version of whack-a-mole, poking their heads out from the holes in the wall where they had gone to smoke or shoot up. My needle girls, one woman cooed to them tenderly. How are you, my loves? Most made polite conversation, updating the workers on their health struggles, love lives, immigration woes or housing needs. One woman told them she would be going back to Angola to deal with her mothers estate, that she was looking forward to the change of scenery. Another man told them he had managed to get his online girlfriends visa approved for a visit. Does she know youre still using? Sareia asked. The man looked sheepish.

I start methadone tomorrow, another man said proudly. He was accompanied by his beaming girlfriend, and waved a warm goodbye to the girls as they handed him a square of foil.

In the foggy northern city of Porto, peer support workers from Caso an association run by and for drug users and former users, the only one of its kind in Portugal meet every week at a noisy cafe. They come here every Tuesday morning to down espressos, fresh pastries and toasted sandwiches, and to talk out the challenges, debate drug policy (which, a decade and a half after the law came into effect, was still confusing for many) and argue, with the warm rowdiness that is characteristic of people in the northern region. When I asked them what they thought of Portugals move to treat drug users as sick people in need of help, rather than as criminals, they scoffed. Sick? We dont say sick up here. Were not sick.

I was told this again and again in the north: thinking of drug addiction simply in terms of health and disease was too reductive. Some people are able to use drugs for years without any major disruption to their personal or professional relationships. It only became a problem, they told me, when it became a problem.

Caso was supported by Apdes, a development NGO with a focus on harm reduction and empowerment, including programmes geared toward recreational users. Their award-winning Check!n project has for years set up shop at festivals, bars and parties to test substances for dangers. I was told more than once that if drugs were legalised, not just decriminalised, then these substances would be held to the same rigorous quality and safety standards as food, drink and medication.

In spite of Portugals tangible results, other countries have been reluctant to follow. The Portuguese began seriously considering decriminalisation in 1998, immediately following the first UN General Assembly Special Session on the Global Drug Problem (UNgass). High-level UNgass meetings are convened every 10 years to set drug policy for all member states, addressing trends in addiction, infection, money laundering, trafficking and cartel violence. At the first session for which the slogan was A drug-free world: we can do it Latin American member states pressed for a radical rethinking of the war on drugs, but every effort to examine alternative models (such as decriminalisation) was blocked. By the time of the next session, in 2008, worldwide drug use and violence related to the drug trade had vastly increased. An extraordinary session was held last year, but it was largely a disappointment the outcome document didnt mention harm reduction once.

Despite that letdown, 2016 produced a number of promising other developments: Chile and Australia opened their first medical cannabis clubs; following the lead of several others, four more US states introduced medical cannabis, and four more legalised recreational cannabis; Denmark opened the worlds largest drug consumption facility, and France opened its first; South Africa proposed legalising medical cannabis; Canada outlined a plan to legalise recreational cannabis nationally and to open more supervised injection sites; and Ghana announced it would decriminalise all personal drug use.

The biggest change in global attitudes and policy has been the momentum behind cannabis legalisation. Local activists have pressed Goulo to take a stance on regulating cannabis and legalising its sale in Portugal; for years, he has responded that the time wasnt right. Legalising a single substance would call into question the foundation of Portugals drug and harm-reduction philosophy. If the drugs arent the problem, if the problem is the relationship with drugs, if theres no such thing as a hard or a soft drug, and if all illicit substances are to be treated equally, he argued, then shouldnt all drugs be legalised and regulated?

Massive international cultural shifts in thinking about drugs and addiction are needed to make way for decriminalisation and legalisation globally. In the US, the White House has remained reluctant to address what drug policy reform advocates have termed an addiction to punishment. But if conservative, isolationist, Catholic Portugal could transform into a country where same-sex marriage and abortion are legal, and where drug use is decriminalised, a broader shift in attitudes seems possible elsewhere. But, as the harm-reduction adage goes: one has to want the change in order to make it.

When Pereira first opened the CAT in Olho, he faced vociferous opposition from residents; they worried that with more drogados would come more crime. But the opposite happened. Months later, one neighbour came to ask Pereiras forgiveness. She hadnt realised it at the time, but there had been three drug dealers on her street; when their local clientele stopped buying, they packed up and left.

The CAT building itself is a drab, brown two-storey block, with offices upstairs and an open waiting area, bathrooms, storage and clinics down below. The doors open at 8.30am, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Patients wander in throughout the day for appointments, to chat, to kill time, to wash, or to pick up their weekly supply of methadone doses. They tried to close the CAT for Christmas Day one year, but patients asked that it stay open. For some, estranged from loved ones and adrift from any version of home, this is the closest thing theyve got to community and normality.

Its not just about administering methadone, Pereira told me. You have to maintain a relationship.

In a back room, rows of little canisters with banana-flavoured methadone doses were lined up, each labelled with a patients name and information. The Olho CAT regularly services about 400 people, but that number can double during the summer months, when seasonal workers and tourists come to town. Anyone receiving treatment elsewhere in the country, or even outside Portugal, can have their prescription sent over to the CAT, making the Algarve an ideal harm-reduction holiday destination.

After lunch at a restaurant owned by a former CAT employee, the doctor took me to visit another of his projects a particular favourite. His decades of working with addiction disorders had taught him some lessons, and he poured his accumulated knowledge into designing a special treatment facility on the outskirts of Olho: the Unidade de Desabituao, or Dishabituation Centre. Several such UDs, as they are known, have opened in other regions of the country, but this centre was developed to cater to the particular circumstances and needs of the south.

A man receives clean syringes after being given methadone at a clinic in Lisbon. Photograph: Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images

Pereira stepped down as director some years ago, but his replacement asked him to stay on to help with day-to-day operations. Pereira should be retired by now indeed, he tried to but Portugal is suffering from an overall shortage of health professionals in the public system, and not enough young doctors are stepping into this specialisation. As his colleagues elsewhere in the country grow closer to their own retirements, theres a growing sense of dread that there is no one to replace them.

Those of us from the Algarve always had a bit of a different attitude from our colleagues up north, Pereira told me. I dont treat patients. They treat themselves. My function is to help them to make the changes they need to make.

And thank goodness there is only one change to make, he deadpanned as we pulled into the centres parking lot: You need to change almost everything. He cackled at his own joke and stepped out of his car.

The glass doors at the entrance slid open to a facility that was bright and clean without feeling overwhelmingly institutional. Doctors and administrators offices were up a sweeping staircase ahead. Women at the front desk nodded their hellos, and Pereira greeted them warmly: Good afternoon, my darlings.

The Olho centre was built for just under 3m (2.6m), publicly funded, and opened to its first patients nine years ago. This facility, like the others, is connected to a web of health and social rehabilitation services. It can house up to 14 people at once: treatments are free, available on referral from a doctor or therapist, and normally last between eight and 14 days. When people first arrive, they put all of their personal belongings photos, mobile phones, everything into storage, retrievable on departure.

We believe in the old maxim: No news is good news, explained Pereira. We dont do this to punish them but to protect them. Memories can be triggering, and sometimes families, friends and toxic relationships can be enabling.

To the left there were intake rooms and a padded isolation room, with clunky security cameras propped up in every corner. Patients each had their own suites simple, comfortable and private. To the right, there was a colour room, with a pottery wheel, recycled plastic bottles, paints, egg cartons, glitter and other craft supplies. In another room, coloured pencils and easels for drawing. A kiln, and next to it a collection of excellent handmade ashtrays. Many patients remained heavy smokers.

Patients were always occupied, always using their hands or their bodies or their senses, doing exercise or making art, always filling their time with something. Wed often hear our patients use the expression me and my body, Pereira said. As though there was a dissociation between the me and my flesh.

To help bring the body back, there was a small gym, exercise classes, physiotherapy and a jacuzzi. And after so much destructive behaviour messing up their bodies, their relationships, their lives and communities learning that they could create good and beautiful things was sometimes transformational.

You know those lines on a running track? Pereira asked me. He believed that everyone however imperfect was capable of finding their own way, given the right support. Our love is like those lines.

He was firm, he said, but never punished or judged his patients for their relapses or failures. Patients were free to leave at any time, and they were welcome to return if they needed, even if it was more than a dozen times.

He offered no magic wand or one-size-fits-all solution, just this daily search for balance: getting up, having breakfast, making art, taking meds, doing exercise, going to work, going to school, going into the world, going forward. Being alive, he said to me more than once, can be very complicated.

My darling, he told me, its like I always say: I may be a doctor, but nobodys perfect.

A longer version of this piece appears on Research and travel for this piece were made possible by the Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award

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10 Ways To Keep Your Skin Smooth And Healthy During The Winter Months

Ren Qingtao

Winter weather can wreak havoc on your skin. The air is cold and dry and the wind is whipping — not a good combination. Try these tips to make sure your skin stays protected from the bitter weather and remains smooth and healthy.

1. Change up Your Face and Body Wash

You want to make sure the stuff you’re using to clean your skin isn’t going to dry it out. Blasting the heater and taking super hot showers is already going to do a number on your skin. Try using a healing, creamy body wash to help put some of the moisture back in your skin. Regular moisturizing washes are good, but the healing element gives dry or cracked skin the relief it really needs.

For your face, try something that’s soap-free and doesn’t really lather up. If a cleanser makes your skin feel really tight after you rinse it off, that’s a sign that it’s drying. Switch to something milder, with a neutral pH that can gently clean your face, while still getting all your makeup off.

2. Exfoliate — but Very Tenderly

You don’t want to be fiercely scrubbing your skin in the winter months. However, using a gentle exfoliator a couple times a week can help get rid of any extra dry skin buildup that’s been happening in the colder months. Look for something all natural and lacking in harsh chemicals that will irritate dry skin further.

3. Do a Two-Step Moisturizing Process

For your face, make sure you’re really locking in that moisture. You can cover pretty much every other part of your body when you venture outside, but your face will likely be taking the brunt of the wind and cold air. That’s why making sure it stays hydrated is extra important.

First, try a hydrating serum. They’re thin and watery or gel-based, making a good base layer for hydration. They usually contain humectant ingredients. These attract and retain water, meaning you want them right on your skin.

Next, get a moisturizing cream that’s going to lock that moisture in. These usually contain occlusive ingredients that make sure the water on your skin doesn’t evaporate. Some face creams even consist of up to 80 percent petroleum or petroleum-based products. A light layer of an oil-based cream can actually be a good thing in the winter, but you’ll want to use it last to make sure your skin keeps that moisture and it doesn’t evaporate.

4. Deeply Moisturize Overnight

Your hands, feet, elbows and knees all have a tendency to lose moisture faster than other parts of your body. Get a lotion or body butter that’s serious about hydration and repairing cracked skin. Try wearing socks and soft mittens to bed to lock the moisture in if you notice it isn’t having the full impact you wanted.

5. Get a Humidifier

A humidifier can do wonders for the skin, and a whole lot of other things over the winter. It can help prevent some of the damaging effects of dry winter air on your skin by putting some moisture back into your home. It can even make you sleep a bit better — and decent rest and less stress is also helpful for your skin!

6. Make Sure You Stay Hydrated

Hydration is crucial to your skin looking its best. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Fruits and veggies with a lot of water in them — like watermelon, kiwi, celery and tomatoes — can help hydration, too. Foods like avocado, fish and olive oil also contain essential vitamins and minerals that can ensure your skin is smooth and vibrant all year round.

7. Don’t Forget Your Lips

Your poor lips are out in the cold suffering every day, too. They also have pretty thin skin that’s easily dried and chapped. Don’t mess around when it comes to lip balm. Make sure you’re getting something that’s focused on moisturizing and helping chapped lips instead of any tints or colors. Dry lips are insanely painful, and that’s not something you want to be dealing with all winter.

8. Protect Your Skin When You’re Outdoors

Cover up whatever possible when you’re out in the bitter cold and biting wind. Always wear gloves and a scarf to cover up all the skin you can. If you’re hitting the slopes or going to be outside somewhere else for an extended period of time, make sure you put on sunscreen. Just because it’s colder doesn’t mean the sun is any less damaging.

9. Mix up a Moisturizing Facemask

Homemade face masks are great because they’re usually inexpensive and use ingredients you might already have in your fridge or pantry. They’re also all natural, which is good for use on the delicate skin of your face. Have some friends over, mix up some face masks, break out the wine and make a night of it!

10. Avoid Skin Irritants

Skin is naturally more sensitive in the winter, so you may have to avoid things that are normally fine. Try switching to a natural laundry detergent or one made for sensitive skin if your clothes are irritating your skin. Certain fabrics, like wool, could also be a trigger. If you have a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, these steps are especially important to avoid a potential flare-up.

You won’t regret making sure you take every precaution to protect your skin this winter. You’ll feel better throughout the cold months, and you’ll go into spring with healthier, more radiant skin.

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