DXM, Promethazine & Lil Wayne: An Observation

First hit for “high on cough syrup” by the way.

Today, I wanted to present a small observation I found kind of interesting relating to, but not exactly about today’s #DFF on DXM/Cough Syrup. Cough syrup is used all over the world, with a varying degree of narcotic in them, depending on the specific laws surrounding opiates. For example, in France, you can get cough syrup with small amounts of pain killers in it. In the USA, the prescription strength cough syrup has both codeine (moderately potent opiate) & promethazine (sedative & weak anti-psychotic). Compare this to the active ingredient in over the counter cough syrup & the drug that many college kids experiment with, Dextromethorphan, an “antitussive,” or cough suppressant with mild sedative/dissociative properties.
This is why when you & your friends got fucked up cough syrup it felt like you were in a vomity K-hole, while Bieber, Lil Wayne & Soulja Boy are walking around, slurring their words & getting their “lean on.” The motivations for doing DXM include the psychedelic aspects & the hilarious lack of independent limb control at higher doses, though, that part of the drug is more entertaining for everyone around you. Sizzurp, or Purple Drank, has a very different effect, combining a weapons grade painkiller & sedative. If you ever wondered why the rap was so fluid & almost slurred, it’s because he is almost asleep. If you want to know why people consume this, the best way I’ve ever heard it described was from a case manager at a homeless shelter in the South Bronx. He reminded me that you can sip on sizzurp all day, quietly & slowly, and still be “more fucked up” than everyone at the party drinking Champagne or Hennessy or any alcohol. That meaning, you were intoxicated, but quickly, & cheaply, and remained at a low-level plateau all day. You didn’t ratchet up from buzzed to drunk to blacked out. Plus, you weren’t consuming alcohol, so you didn’t start fights/get violent which frequently got the cops called on parties. But this is where the funny part comes in. DXM does not provide the same effects of Purple Drank. But because of the explosion in popularity of Lil Wayne, & other rappers who embraced the cocktail, I wonder how many kids are out there unsure of the difference. I wonder how many Beliebers saw that he was drinking something that had cough syrup in it, then absolutely had to hit up a Walgreen’s on the way home. I definitely know kids who have “I swallowed 20 DXM gelcaps” stories. And, as we all know, those stories usually involve projectile vomit or descriptions of how their bookshelf turned into a pack of wolves. The other drug, definitely developed some cache, showing up on Instagram over and over, even getting repped in a Future rap video.

At the end of the day, DXM is not a particularly safe drug, as most cough syrup comes with other ingredients that are quite toxic in large doses. This means that if you consumed enough DXM to get fucked up, you’d probably make yourself sick from one of the other additives. Also, DXM addiction is real, and it sucks. When more than half users report flashbacks & general apathy, and 25% report nightmares and impaired memory for weeks after not doing the drug, just because it’s over the counter, doesn’t mean it won’t fuck you up. I have known people who lost summers & years to this, sipping on a cough syrup bottle. And they weren’t even rappers. For more safety info, or to swap stories, join Ravelrie, Stay Safe Seattle & NY DanceSafe at 4:30p/1:30p PST using #DXMFFCJ1LGEjVEAAc3Dd

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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!

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!

MDMA, Molly & The Movie!

unnamedThis afternoon with Ravelrie, NY DanceSafe & Stay Safe Seattle , I’m talking Molly, MDMA, the Love Drug, and all those wacky names Gen X’ers gave it back when you could still buy it at the bar. The name is short for 3, 4-methylenedixy-methamphetamine, so, yes, it’ll be referred to as MDMA. Not the pills you take, not the caps you got at a festival that one time, the actual drug. Because, as we’ve seen MDMA isn’t freaking pure. And when it’s pure, it’s incredibly strong. While pills used to be cut with filler, Stacker 2 or other fat burning over-the-counter faux stimulants (who remembers Dexatrim?!), now, the caps of “molly” or the baggies you see kids “dip” into at festivals have stuff that we can’t readily identify. This quote from the Miami PD explains the point better than I could.

“According to the Miami Police Department, methylone and mephedrone, along with another synthetic cathinone called 4-MEC, account for the vast bulk of the molly seized by narcotics cops in the area. A DEA spokesperson told me that in the first six months of 2013, the DEA’s Miami field office seized 106 consignments of molly, which contained 43 different substances, 19 of them so obscure even government chemists couldn’t identify them. So much for purity.” ~Playboy

To be clear, that means that not only are kids doing drugs that they can’t readily identify, they’re doing drugs chemists & VICE squads can’t readily identify. When dozens of new research chemicals come to light every year, the law can’t keep up. We’ve got MAPS doing as much as they can to get the word out, but they need help. So, to that end, the founder of DanceSafe would like to share with you his cinematic debut. This is going to be providing a fantastic history, overview and analysis of the drug, and the current effects it has on dance culture, its medical role in PTSD & harm reduction associated with it. For more info, check out the trailer below:

Spice, Or What Happens When Frontier Capitalism & Psychopharmacology Collide

EgqnRypWhen you create a prison system so bad we regularly joke about forcible rape as a penalty, people really don’t like breaking the law. And because of that, certain people apparently will never smoke pot. They will however, smoke a whole lot of this stuff. I should know. Someone I lived with smoked it by the fist full. To explain why K2 or Spice is popular, we need to understand what cannabinoids, the things that get you “high” are. Because there are chemicals in your brain right now, that your brain makes, that are analagous to THC. That’s right, your brain can get you high any time you want. One of these endocannabinoids (literally “internal cannabinoids”) is called CB1, and it does…quite a bit.

So, this stuff is kind of bizarre, because a lot of the early ones, were just straight CB1 stimulating chemicals, sprayed on potpurri. Literally, someone got the idea to just take the test chemicals used in lab procedures to explore this chemical system & stimulate it directly. It’s such a perfect metaphor for both the the explosiveness of a “had an experience/want stronger version “behavioral cycle, but how our markets meet the needs of our consumers, no matter how complex. These different brands littered gas stations, delis and convenience stores all over the country, as they were legal, “not for consumption” and you got a gram or two for 20 bucks. Proof of exactly what can happen when profiteering combine with poorly constructed & implemented drug laws. The vast majority of the K2/Spice/Synthetic herb brands out there are largely unlabeled and have generated state bans as early as 2010.

If you’ve been playing along on these Friday posts, we’ve seen how drug laws force people to do drugs they’re not familiar with, to keep getting the same symptoms without penalty. People that have to take drug tests still want to get high, and the market will help them. We have no idea what the effects of smoking these chemicals, or the “plants” they’re being sprayed on, largely. But until trees are legal, there are going to be people who would prefer to use this instead of the real McCoy. This is one of the dozen insidious issues with the War on Drugs.  So let’s talk about this, 4:30 PM EST, using #DFFspice on Twitter & get more info on our #DrugFactFriday Pinboard.

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CMEA, A Great Idea, Which Totally Ignored How Meth Users Act.

This week I’m talking about Crystal Meth. Yes, that drug. The one they really thought they had figured out back in the 00’s, and interestingly enough, gave us a perfect example of how top down drug legislation can miss the mark. In 2005, several states had the bright idea to make Sudafed harder to get, to prevent it from being purchased by meth cooks to use to make…meth of course. They turned Sudafed from “over the counter” to “under the counter” which added checks and signatures and a whole song and dance routine (actually just showing ID & signing your name) to get pseudoephedrine. This would ostensibly create a database of people using the stuff to make meth, bingo bango, they get arrested. No more meth cooks, no more meth. No more meth, no more meth users. This idea seemed so solid, that after many states passed state versions of this initiative, the Federal version was passed by Congress, titled the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005. In 2006, the first person was arrested for stocking up on Claritin, but that’s besides the point. The mindset that produced these laws totally misses one simple thing. And as result, you have the chart above this paragraph.

Dashboard 1 When the meth labs closed down, even after this kinda stuff was made “under the counter” in Mexico (Yea, totally was), people didn’t stop wanting meth. They just paid more for it because it was being brought in from farther away. Oklahoma is reporting this in 2014. This law was passed in 2005, and while it has shuttered hundreds of meth labs across the country, people are simply getting their meth from farther away. This means that it’s more likely to get your meth from a “super center,” which is just a fancy word for a real meth lab. Not like, one in a frat basement, but one where they make the stuff in gallons not milliliters. The resurgence of both Mexican cartel & domestic syndicate meth has brought prices down across the country, but it also amped up the purity. Hence the skyrocketing overdoses. When you start on your friend’s bathtub shit, but suddenly find yourself with a strong need and they’re not in town, you get from whoever is selling. That person’s selling something way stronger, but you don’t know that. You take your normal dose and it explodes your reality. This is being written about by some, but I think it drives home my point.

unnamedA lot of these laws are coming from a seemingly logical place, but they don’t really account for simple human behavior, which opens millions up to potential harm & eventual cost to the healthcare system, as meth addicts aren’t exactly the “saving” type. We need to understand that users, even casual ones, will simply work around a lot of these initiatives, even if it kills them. I guarantee you that standardized purity & dosing will save a lot more people than making sure I bring my driver’s license with me when I go to Duane Reade because I have a headcold. For more on this, join #SayMyName at 4:30pm EST on Twitter to talk the drug that America just can’t quit.