Conversation with homeless addict in recovery, Jimi Migz

Critical of non-profit housing services that show apathy for the homeless

The Young Jurks Podcast: Conversation with a Salem, Massachusetts man, Jimi Migz, who is homeless and a recovering addict. Jimi shares problems with his recent hospital stay, being prescribed drugs without his knowledge, and gives criticism and feedback on his experience with Lifebridge and other homeless shelters showing “apathy” towards the homeless as well as being anti-medical cannabis.

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Transcript provided by our friend, Grant Smith!

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Mike; It’s Mike Crawford. I’m with Salem Resident Jimmy Migz, who is a homeless person. Who is somebody who has fought opiate addiction, and just recently gotten sober from alcohol. We’re just going to speak to him, we are in Salem Mass right now and we just gifted him some free cannabis on our free cannabis campaign to help him out, and we want to talk to him a little bit about some of the things that he’s dealing with right now.

Mike; Jimmy, what’s up?

Jimi Migz; Hey man, how’s it going?

Mike; Good. So why don’t you tell us about basically, you’re having some frustration right now. You got sober, but you had some issues getting sober and it was a lot of issues with the health care.

Jimi; Okay; to make it a brief synopsis over the past year, or two years almost, I was a homeless person but I was an addict of heroin and I got arrested with a small amount. I got probation as a result. I started though, a vivitrol program and have been on it for approximately 21 months. I’ve been clean from opiates all that time, but  I’ve struggled with alcohol and benzos due to my anxiety that I experience. I just recently decided that I didn’t want to be a slave to that anymore either, so I ended up checking myself in to a appropriate facility. Basically, when I went in I was basically not treated very well to begin with. Because I have to go to dual diagnosis as other detox’s haven proven that  I need a higher level of care, due to my mental illness, basically I went in and I was given a medication and I was not told that  I was on that medication and it dehydrated me. It was a dietetic; hydrochloric iodate (sp?).

Regardless, it dried me out and I lost 8 pounds in 5 days. When I found out what it was I said “No I don’t want to take it no more” and I was ready to leave and then I left. I spent a day out here (in Salem) taking care of official business, getting off probation.  I had done well on probation, adhering to what their conditions were. I got off the probation and went to the ER that very day to check back in and finish what was started.  I then went to another facility which was related to the facility that I was at, and got a dual diagnosis again. I was placed on another drug, called phenobarbital, some people may be familiar because  it was an 80’s drug that some people still abuse, used for drug thinning and seizures.

Neither of which I needed, but its known to really mess with one’s mind and it messed with mine. Basically that’s the short version. I witnessed a lot of lack of proper medical care basically a situation where there was no response for pleas to help when it came to certain side effects that were going on with the medication. Total lack of desire on the part of the staff to have patients be part of their own medical care and advocate for themselves. The staff totally did not like that. They tried to push drugs on me that I did not want to take and basically left me in fear for my life. I had to leave because of that and so it’s a difficult situation . Thankfully I have a resolve that I want to stay sober after seeing some things in my life…my mother is on life support in Boston in the hospital in an ICU and seeing her in that condition  it made me think, I don’t want my kids to see me in this condition ever.

Because it broke my heart genuinely, so I haven’t touched anything to drink or benzos since I entered the detox about a week and a day ago. 

Mike; Congratulations.

Jimmy; Thank you.

Mike; We just gave you some free cannabis, what do you think about that?

Jimi; I think its great, you know anything free is for me but especially cannabis because it is such a healing plant. So non-addictive and personally, for me anyway, I’ve been able to go without it without a problem unlike heroin detox, benzos, or alcohol which are all basically used in some kind of illegal way or another. Whereas cannabis is just making a comeback.

Mike; Now, you’re homeless and you’ve got a felony record. You’ve got the past drug addiction and the health issues. What do people need to know about how we treat homeless and addicted people. What can we be doing? What is the state missing? What  are the cities and towns, these local organizations, doing…because I know that you’re not always happy about this stuff…so tell us, what should we know?

Jimi; Well, a lot of excuses are made by different organizations; for instance, the shelter in my town, lifebridge (AKA deathbridge), it basically hand selects who it wants to go in. And when they decide you’ve had enough time there, they  kick you out as was done to me. They couldn’t really kick e out, control me, and I wasn’t  a quiet person when it came to voicing any displeasure when it came to the way they treated us. But, for the most part, I was active and sober for a few months then and legally prescribed a benzo by a doctor for anxiety and I was taking it as prescribed. So I was not doing anything other than cannabis and a vivitrol shot every month. Basically, they have apathy to people who genuinely need…there’s this old lady Mary, I probably shouldn’t have said her name, but anyway she’s an older lady and she is a stubborn lady and she is out on the street but she is every day in my view. I try to help her because she’s got two walkers going around, and she goes everywhere with them. Anyone who knows her knows her story but they could help her out and they don’t.  They don’t insist on helping her out, but they should. Excuses and such mostly; for a lot of people who stay there, you can’t be on cannabis. 

Because they get Federal funding that is what their excuse is, but really we live in a state that has medicinal and stuff so if  someone has a medicinal card they should be able to use it a safe form and in whatever capacity they are able to legally. 

I think the shelter should adhere to that, because, as I just recently spoke with Rep. Paul Tucker, who used to be our chief of police, and who is familiar with me  and my record fro his tie as a beat cop working his way up. I saw Rep Tucker a few weeks ago, and talked to him about getting  the vivitrol, and he mentioned how the lady who gives me my shot had mentioned me in meetings with the mayor, Kim Driscoll, because I have so successful on it (including being cured of hep c). 

It worked for me, so two years later I’m still clean and undetected on hep c.  I’ still advocating for myself, still doing what I need to do even if I’m upset…you know, I have friends/family that take me inside sometimes, but most of the time I’m outside and there should be more outreach. For example, in the city of Boston there are some vans that go around and they help people out by giving them blankets and stuff to eat, but there’s nothing like that here (in Salem). They have a community impact van that just harass the homeless people, and then arrest them if they see them doing something they’re not supposed to be doing. It is just one big lack of caring. I don’t know if its just a matter of lack of funding, but really it shouldn’t cost that much money to help out homeless people.

Mike; And you mentioned two things I just want to drill down on; number 1 was the shelters. Was it lifebridge, they don’t allow medical cannabis…

Jimi; Yea…

Mike;… for people who are addicts who are getting off opiates?

Jimi; And that’s true, they don’t. Technically they don’t. When I went in I tested positive, but because of the 30 day window you have with cannabis that is going to be expected. People can go in and test positive, but if they test again positive later on they are penalized with soe form of reprimand. I was not given  any kind of drug test further than the intro screening. I was only kicked out for telling someone that they don’t need to tell me how to do a specific chore because of their age. I am 42 and she was 20, so I’ve been in the system longer than she was alive. 

So that means I wasn’t telling a lie, and even if I was saying I could do my job better than her, its not a reason to put me out on the street and say you can’t have a war ebd to sleep in and a place ot shower. They took away the dignity that I had. I thought that I was moving forward at that point, but that’s a problem basically. 

Basically, the things they could do more; they could get more involved. There’s plenty of people who want to help get things going for homeless people so they can make their way in society and not have to be depdeant on the  system or anyone else. It’s like the story about this guy on a FB video I’ve seen; he showed two lighters, one that spent all night out in the cold and one that spent all night in doors and he said; “See this one spent all night all night outside and it wouldn’t light” and then he tried to light the one that was inside all night and it lit easily. Then he said that all that the one left outside needs is a handup, and he put the flame fro the indoor one and as the gas was going the one  which had been outside all night was then able to light on its own. So that’s the principle of it. All you have to do is show them the way. They’re more than willing to go on their own if you’re willing to care rather than showing apathy, of course someone is going to respond to that. 

I would respond to it. For example, I’m responding to my own desire to do what’s right in my life by not giving up on myself and continuing forward. I was say this honestly, as a not only a homeless person but also as someone who is mentally ill, I’ve seen a lot in my life…without cannabis, or cannabanoids like cbd and thc in different forms (fowers/vapes/oils/dabs) without that I would be in a much deeper position both in regards to my depression and my anxiety. The reason for that is that its anaged all of my symptoms without addicting me and without making me go through horrible withdrawals and end up in hospital after hospital (which costs more money than I can afford). 

Mike; Let me ask you two more things. Number 1; if you run out of cannabis, or you need cannabis, or you’re having a tough time, call me. Text me. I’m right down the street.

Jimi; Thank you. I will mike. I appreciate it. I just want you to know that since I’ve met you, I appreciate your attentiveness to this plight and I appreciate the fact that I’ve been able to put it down in a capcity that people can hear this story. I’m hoping that people don’t turn their eyes away just because they don’t have the time at the moment. I literally would love to get on my feet and just have a place to live indoors. However, lack of opportunity means lack of success. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to find it. I’m legit just wanting to go forward and I want to put the past behind me and make the future better.

Genuinely, cannabis helps it so that I’m able to walk from place to place and get around if I don’t get a good night’s sleep because its too cold or its too rainy or its too dangerous.

Mike; A couple last things; you have a facebook page if people want to reach out and help you in the Salem mass area they can reach out and find you there?

Jimi; I mean yea they could, I’m not asking for it though directly. Unless someone has a job that they don’t mind hiring a convicted felon who has learned from his mistakes genuinely. I a going to be applying to get my records sealed, so that will make it easier to get hired. I actually already did apply to have the records sealed and they asked me to wait to resolve a pending case (which just finished early). 

Mike; And the last thing, you mentioned Mayor Kim Driscoll and you mentioned Paul Tucker…what do you say to them? What do you think they should be doing for folks like you that are homeless and addicted?

Jimi; Basically it’s a bounce off of a bill that congressman Seth Moulton just put in, to help people with PTSD…superficially veterans who  are coming back from war and need access to more care for PTSD. I am  a sufferer of PTSD, not because I was in the military, but because I lived in my own hell. On my own battlefield, growing up watching domestic violence.  A lot of blood, a lot of stuff that when I talk about it tis right in front of my eyes. And again, cannabis has been helpful in alleviating the pains and pressures of the PTSD. I say PTSD because I don’t want it to be a disorder because as far as I’m concerned I’m still breathing and I’m still standing, so I’m not a disorder at this moment. Its just PTSD and I’m just trying to deal with it appropriately.

Mike; Thank you Jimi. 

Jimi; No problem, thanks to you Mike.