Mephedrone, Methadone & Notes on Psychedelic Confusion.

Today Ravelrie, Stay Safe Seattle & NY DanceSafe are talking Mephedrone & the modern era of drug confusion. After hearing people confuse mephedrone & methadone for the hundredth time, we decided to parse some bullshit & get the info out to everyone who is looking real dumb at parties talking about the wrong drug. The easiest way to remember the difference between the two is to look at the end of the word. MethaDONE is for trying to quit heroin or pain killers, while MepheDRONE is the first gen bath salt rumored to turn you into a mindless crazy person. So, think “DONE” for “done with opiates” & DRONE for “face eating zombie.”MeowFF graphic More specifically, Mephedrone is the thing your mom got terrified you were doing after the tragic/morbidly hilarious face eating incident in Miami. While it was later proven that the guy didn’t actually have any “bath salts” in his system, the moniker stuck and now we’ve got terrible rumors of how bath salts turn into cannibals. The substance was stupendously popular in the UK from 2010/2011, with an almost total drop off from 2012/2013 on. One note, the only reason they’re called “bath salts” is because labeling them as “not for human consumption” is what allowed headshops to sell these drugs “over the counter” because they were going to be used as incense, not ground up & snorted. For more information on this legal, then terrifying, then banned, then internationally scheduled substance, The Guardian has a fantastic timeline/information vault about the drug.

Mephedrone is a great example of how a substance using population will react to changing conditions on the ground. As the purity of MDMA weakened in the late 00’s/early 10’s in the UK, more and more people switched to legal highs such as Mephedrone. So many did, that an entire ad campaign reminding people they were new psychedelic substances (NPS) was launched, including the first image in this post & others like it. As the purity of MDMA climbed back into acceptable ranges, fewer & fewer people were willing to keep beta testing the drug with their bodies. While the international community finally got around to scheduling the drug this month, some of us asked a. What took them so long, and b. Why now? The drug isn’t cool/used heavily anymore, so what’s the point?

Methadone is the standard treatment opiate (heroin, morphine, Vicodin, etc) users receive, usually after they’ve been processed by the mental health, substance abuse or law enforcement systems. Methadone essentially just replaces heroin with a drug that prevents physical withdrawal, but does nothing for the user, from a mood, pain-killing or recreational perspective. A long-winded explanation of why Methadone is the worst way to treat opiate addiction is beyond the scope of this post, as you’re already getting bored reading this I wager. But for a great write-up of what the process looks like, especially in poor areas of the world, read this VICE report from Saskatchewan, and not the nice part. This is one of the many ground zeros for drugs, crime & gang violence in the world, with heroin & methadone intertwined deeply.

Now that you know the difference, use #meowFF to join the chat this afternoon, 4:30pm EST, 1:30pm PST on Twitter!

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Gravel, Flakka, or Alpha-PVP. Designer Drugs in a Post-Bath Salts World.

tumblr_n4yoxn48IO1rtpfpio1_400alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (Alpha-PVP for the rest of us) is a stimulant and also one of the first 2nd generation bath salts. Take a minute to understand what that signifies. We’re creating new psychedelic substances (NPS) so fast that we’re getting refinements on substances that haven’t been popular for 5 years. The original bath salt MDPV developed a reputation for turning people into those face-eating zombies from 28 Days Later, so people started looking for something that had all the energy, but a little less cannibalism. They found Alpha-PVP. Unfortunately for at least a couple of people so far, it killed them. If this drug sounds familiar at all, it’s because the kid who died at Ultra last year took it. The drug can be smoked, snorted, left under your tongue to absorb, vaporized, added to joints & injected. There are terrifying side-effects including seizures, paranoia, PCP-style hulk outs & death by heart attack. In animal tests, the drug created similar activity to straight amphetamines when it came to how stimulated the rats were. But the weird, messed up part is that, at high doses, the rats displayed erratic, hyperactive & bizarre behavior. Which lines up with the stories we’ve seen about violent behavior & crazy cardiovascular distress. Additionally, reports of Gravel, or Alpha-PVP+ stuff have come in. This is a serious escalation that we all need to be aware of. Sometimes Alpha-PVP is mixed with methamphetamines or Klonopin. The idea that you’d be taking a drug that produces, and I quote “impressive degrees of paranoia” mixed with meth? No wonder these people are going on rampages & breaking crap with drug strength. Because this entire spectrum of aPVP containing options exist as “not for human consumption” bath salts, you can get it anywhere in the USA, UK & Australia. Another example of the lengths people will go to get high/stay productive in an ever changing world. If you look at the trip reports on Erowid (linked above), you’ll see a consistent feature, common to most American stimulant usage. It’s done for the sake of productivity, not to get “fucked up.” People are working harder & longer, doing less fulfilling stuff, so they’re frequently turning to prescription or over the counter stims. If I can’t get adderall & I feel like I need something, and my friend tells me about this shit that works great and I can buy at a gas station? I’m in. And that’s how we got here. Not only is the drug war making more dangerous drugs propagate because people can’t buy the things they actually want, it’s creating these drugs faster than ever before. CaptureI need to stress one last point that was gotten to me by the NY DanceSafe chapter leader. Currently, we can’t test for this stuff. Even though the test kits that you can get from DanceSafe & other places do test for cathinones (the family/class of drugs “bath salts” is in), Alpha-PVP doesn’t react to the test. This is super important information to get out to your people, especially because of the wacky side-effects aPVP has. To learn more, join me, Ravelrie, NY DanceSafe & Stay Safe Seattle at 4:30 EST, 1:30 PST on Twitter using #alphapvp!

Salvia, A Drug That Proves Humans Know A Bad Idea When They See One.

This week, Ravelrie, NY DanceSafe, Stay Safe Seattle & I are talking Salvia. That’s right, the drug you & your friends tried that one time and probably never touched again? It’s a legal in the USA, but it’s one of the drugs that never really caught on here in the USA. This stuff is native to Oaxaca, Mexico, but it’s spread to be available pretty much everywhere in the USA. There are not only regular strength dosages but in head shops around the country, you can buy potent extracts. Just imagine, not only can you get this stuff and smoke it, but you can purchase extracts that are anywhere from 2-40x as powerful. You’d imagine this would have a huge market right? Everyone does, until they actually do the stuff.

As you can see, this stuff isn’t exactly a rocking good time, unless you’re into not knowing where the floor or walls are. Salvia is one of those substances that I think prove, if given time & access/information, the population of users eventually reach a happy medium of consumption. The drug has exceptionally low toxicity & risk for addiction. I’d say the latter is largely because the experience is too freaking crazy to really get “addicted” to in any sense of the word. It’s one of the only substances I’ve seen seasoned drug users do once, and wash their hands of. They know what they want from drugs, and Salvia isn’t it.

To me, this is a prime example of users not getting what they want from a drug and putting it down. It’s widely recognized how crazy the drug is for casual users, and there’s a whole group of Latin American spiritual users & shamans who use it for the opposite of “recreation.” This is how it was used traditionally in Mexico, and it’s probably where the only active populations of really continuous users exist. For more info on Salvia check out the Erowid Vault and join us on twitter at 4:30 PM using #DrugFactFriday!

Kratom, Stimulants & Withdrawal: A Developing Story

This week, for #DFF we’re talking Kratom! You’ve probably not heard of it, but if you have, we’d love to hear from you! Ravelrie, NY DanceSafe & Stay Safe Seattle are joining me to talk about a substance that has both a long history and an entirely new global fanbase. In many places, like the USA, it’s actually still legal, though, as we’ve seen with a lot of gray-area drugs, that may not be the case for long.IMG_1784This drug has the very interesting side effect of essentially replacing methadone for opiate withdrawal. This is something that took me both a review of the research (summed up nicely in this Scientific American article) and a lengthy stay in r/kratom (that’s right, there’s a reddit community about it) to really believe. One of the differences between the article and the concreteness of the sub-reddit is immediately obvious. While the scientists are speculating and wondering about the effectiveness of the drug, there’s an entire underground of people already using it. Not only are they using it the way it’s traditionally used in Thailand, as the organic/natural analog to methamphetamine, similar to Khat & coca leaves in Africa & Latin America (respectively). But it also provides a much smoother withdrawal than when you try and stop using opiates. The only other drug I’ve ever encountered in my research that does this is Ibogaine, but that is a story for another day. This substance apparently replaces the opiate/pain medication usage, but when users try to quit this…they feel like they’ve got a caffeine headache.

The significantly reduced physical dependency potential & softer withdrawal symptoms have gotten people to use it to do what methodone, Narcotics Anonymous & a lifetime of DARE commercials couldn’t. Get them off drugs. Some succeed, a bunch fail, but in this case, they’ve got a leg-up, as dealing with caffeine withdrawal is a zillion (yea that’s a scientific term sure) times easier than weaning yourself off heroin. As any fan of Trainspotting could tell you. The drug isn’t actually scheduled in the USA, but the DEA is watching it like a hawk. There’s a chance that it could be used to help people, but I assume the usual suspects will shit all over that, but the fact that the community exists, is global, and has helped (admittedly self-report & confirmation bias not-withstanding) a lot of people, means there might be something here. Join us on Twitter at 4:30pm to help us figure it out.

We’ve Reversed The Google Ad Words Ban But MDMA: The Movie Still Needs Your Help!

Emanuel Sferios, The founder of the national organization over 15 years ago, has been working on a documentary movie about MDMA, as all of you are aware of, is extremely popular in our culture, especially today as it’s often targeted in music and the media and almost always misrepresented and misinformed. This film explores its history and use today. And yes, it’s not just some small pet project. Thump from VICE has already covered it and the media campaign is heating up. So much in fact, that Google Ad Words had banned them from advertising. That’s right ladies & gentlemen, Google believed that the first film ever to discuss the harm reduction potential of MDMA and the research surrounding it as a PTSD medication, so Emanuel was told they can’t advertise using the dominant advertising platform of our time, because drugs. That’s why the video you clicked on above this paragraph, was the one that they (temporarily) banned.

In one of Google’s dumber moves this side of Google+ & Wave (you remember those right?), they decided that this movie “promotes” drug use, and will not allow the movie to advertise. This has put the brakes on the fundraising inertia it was developing, but they’re still moving along at a brisk pace. However, in a stunning reversal after a serious crowd-sourced push to get Google to change their minds, THEY HAVE! To celebrate, I’m bringing you a few tidbits from the movie that I hope you’ll watch & donate to/for. First off, Dr. Julie Holland, one of the foremost clinicians in the world when it comes to dealing with substance use, MDMA-use & general rave-related behavior from the drug standpoint. Lastly we’ve got Dede Goldsmith, founder of the Amend The Rave Act movement we’ve been discussing around these parts off and on for months. Both of these ladies are exceptionally relevant within the movement, so please watch & then dig deep.

Multi-Day Festivals & Safety

 

2hxslecWhile there’s a whole lot of information out there about how to not die when the party lasts 4-8hrs, what the heck do you do when you want to go HAM over a weekend? Multi-day events are becoming the norm, as festival culture to continues to explode. To put this in context, there were over 800 festivals in North America, in 2013 alone. This stuff is the new normal, and they’re quite different from club nights.

IMG_1552My peeps ravelrie, NY DanceSafe & Stay Safe Seattle are going to focus on tips for the raver/festival attendee themselves, but I wanted to take this time to directly address fest producers & managers. I worked with the Electronic Music Alliance to develop this Event Safety guide for festival managers. There are a number of tips that most people haven’t thought of, but if ravers are aware of them, they can help mitigate the potential for a bad experience even when the festival is kind of a clusterfuck.

Some of the easiest take aways are:

  • Know where the water/crisis intervention/medical stations are before you have an emergency. This can literally make the difference between life & death.
  • Assume that the water stations will have heavy lines & no one will have extra ear plugs. Bring multiple pairs of those & more than one pair of sunglasses, especially for events with a heavy day component. There’s nothing worse than having your shades break on day one and squinting in 3 days worth of pictures.
  • Know the route from the stage(s) back to your tent in daylight & the dark without relying on too many landmarks. One of the biggest issues newbie Burning Man attendees have is the day after the Man burns, no one can find their way around because they were using “the man” as a guide post to locate themselves.
  • Start consuming gatorade & electrolytes after the 1st day. The water stations don’t take into account the fact that you’ve been sweating & pissing salts out for 24hrs, and the opposite of dehydration can kick on when you don’t have enough salts.
  • Pick up your garbage from your campsite gradually over the weekend, such that you don’t have a massive clean-up task when the event is over.
  • Have a plan to get there AND TO GET HOME. No one wants to be the guy who is hitching a ride away from the festival.

There’s a lot to talk about so join us at 4:30pm EST/1:30 PM PST for #FestFriday on Twitter!

PM(A), PMMA, Who Got The Keys To My Bimmer

PMAThis week, Ravelrie, Stay Safe Seattle, NY DanceSafe & I are talking PMA/PMMA. Just like the rap joke in the title, this topic is as old, and potentially devastating. PMA  In case you weren’t paying attention, fake pills killed some people in the UK over the holiday season. When The Guardian is taking time to talk about this, you should be paying attention. To stress, this stuff has been killing people since 1973. The USA, Canada & the UK have dealt with this stuff, even the Netherlands Denmark has had its problems with it.

Now remember, it’s not like we don’t know how to get information out to the public. Mixmag reminds us that in the UK people, will call out the gov’t for not issuing safety warnings about pills. That’s right, the Warehouse Project gets information out about this stuff, and even local newspapers in Bristol were getting the word out. Isn’t that really what we should be trying for? Using this crazy security & surveillance apparatus they’ve built under the guise of protecting us, and using it to like…tell us when there are things out there that might hurt us?

pma-pmma (1)

 

But I digress. You may be wondering why I’m bamboozling you with UK statistics when you, dear reader, likely aren’t reading this from Brixton (BIG UPS BIG APPLE RECORDS!). Here’s the really scary reminder that ties this little post of mine together. Anyone who has been in the scene for more than the last couple of years will remember the Superman pills here in NYC. These pills are seen as the like, the dope shit. And they really are dope. They will ruin your night/life, and we need to be cognizant of the fact that reputations when it comes to MDMA can be used against users. This is DanceSafe  advocates drug checking if you’re really brave (stupid) enough to use these things. To note, besides a random trip report or two, this drug doesn’t have a recreational following. No one is trying to score PMA, they just get it because their dealer is a terrible person. Be safe, don’t take drugs that will kill you & join us at 4:30pm on Twitter using #PMMA.