Where Has All the Acid Gone?
April 5, 2004 6:29 AM   Subscribe

Where Has All the Acid Gone? (Anyone think our old friend will be making a return trip any time soon?)
posted by alms (67 comments total)
Gone, but not forgotten.

I think . . .
posted by Outlawyr at 6:42 AM on April 5, 2004

My first thought was "well of course emergency room mentions went down in the second half of 2001: lots of people were more paranoid about government surveillance of their records and such like". But looking at the actual report (PDF) from DAWN, mentions of many other drugs went up from 2000 to 2001. So much for my armchair sociology/psychology. The big bust theory was interesting: I had no idea that much acid might be coming from a single source.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:49 AM on April 5, 2004

No more LSD?

Somewhere 500,000 Phish fans are coming down and saying "Wow, these guys suck!"

I kid. But I remember as a young teen in the mid 80's thinking based on media coverage that acid was merely a relic of a bygone time like opium smoking or bathtub gin. Till I started hearing about people offering it for saleat school. Back then, at least among the stoner crowd, LSD still had a sacramental/initiation feel about it. Maybe it was the last crusty remnants of the sixties and seventies in the culture. I didn't manage to take any till I was 19. It was offerred to me by this deadhead chick and her freinds who also passed joints rolled in Anerican flag papers, so that backs up the retro idea.

I also recall that in the 90's 'shrooms seemed to be a lot more popular, and I don't see them mentioned in the article. Maybe that was a function of blotter manufacturers going out of business.
posted by jonmc at 6:53 AM on April 5, 2004

This is quite obviously proof that the War On Drugs works after all. I guess the fundies had it right all along, and I'll stop laughing at them now and stick to Gilbey's, unfiltereds, Oxycontin and The Bachelorette from here on in. Straightedge!

Thanks, Drug Czars! You're patriots and moral pillars, every last one of youse.
posted by chicobangs at 7:15 AM on April 5, 2004

I think the supply/demand aspect is interesting.

In 1977 in the UK the Operation Julie raids busted two of the biggest LSD labs in the country. The price of a hit doubled after the busts and LSD almost disappeared from sight until the second summer of love in 1988, when suddenly it was everywhere again. I always wondered if 1988 happened because suddenly there was a lot of cheap acid around or if supply was scaled up to meet demand? Anyone know?
posted by johnny novak at 7:15 AM on April 5, 2004

My understanding was that, in the US, the jail time for selling low quanitites of acid were so high that no dealers wanted to mess with it, especially when more profitable drugs such as pot, ecstasy and coke were around. Also, people were unwilling to spend more than $5 a hit, so the ratio of possible jail time to possible profit was too high.

In my high school (in the late eighties) acid was pretty popular. $5 for eight hours of mind bending entertainment seemed like a good deal, but now that we have x-boxes and the internet, I suppose that acid can't compete.
posted by rks404 at 7:18 AM on April 5, 2004

but now that we have x-boxes and the internet, I suppose that acid can't compete.

Makes sense... Some times the Internet feels like a bad acid trip.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:25 AM on April 5, 2004

I don't buy that. The market's still there. All similar psychotropics and hallucinogens are being consumed at normal levels. And DDRMAX while tripping removes all bad thoughts from your mind like karmic surgery. Or so I hear.

So what we're waiting for (uh, the acid-partaking public, that is) is for someone else to start making the stuff and getting the formula down so they can start manufacturing it, and then once the proper underground channels (Phish reunion, Dali-Duchamp Roadshow, whatever) get reestablished it'll reappear again, as per '88 in the UK?

If I had any chemistry chops, I'd be on this in a heartbeat, threats of jail time be damned. (But I don't, all you DEA readers. I'm speaking hypothetically. I can't even make tea without serious injury. Acid's far, far beyond my ken.)

I still find it hard to believe that two guys made 95% of what was out there. And one of them is doing double life now.

In other news, Dennis Kozlowski's mistrial means he's free and richer than all of us combined. Way to go, justice system. All your heads are sure on straight.
posted by chicobangs at 7:33 AM on April 5, 2004

Back in the mid-'90s, my sister was buying cheap ($5-$10 Canadian) acid in the parking lot of her high school, and dropping two or three times a week. She still says that the best drug experience she ever had was doing two hits and going to the senior prom. Why anyone would want to drop acid and attend classes in high school is beyond me, but, hey, whatever gets you through the day...

At any rate, I remember her telling me that when she got to college (in a much larger city) in 2001, it was almost impossible to find (and believe me, she went looking). So it would seem as though the drought extended across the border in the wake of the aforementioned big U.S. bust.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:34 AM on April 5, 2004

As the article mentions, acid is much harder to produce than other drugs. There's a significant threshold to setting up a lab with the appropriate supplies, equipment, and all-important expertise. And then there's the issue of (re)creating a distribution network.

On the other hand, acid has a dedicated following. There are many people whose lives were profoundly changed by their experiences with acid. To some, the availability of uncle sid is a matter of social welfare as much as it is of economics.

It's interesting that the cessation of the Grateful Dead and Phish tours had such an impact. I wonder if the revived Dead tour this coming summer (no link available yet) will have any effect.

On preview: what chicobangs said.
posted by alms at 7:34 AM on April 5, 2004

Both the Dead and Phish were touring last year. Just sayin'.
posted by muckster at 7:42 AM on April 5, 2004

Gilbey's, unfiltereds, Oxycontin and The Bachelorette from here on in. Straightedge!

That's really funny. Especially thinking about someone yelling "straightedge".

Elvis was straightedge, you know.
posted by the fire you left me at 7:51 AM on April 5, 2004

Was it perhaps replaced by Oxycontin, X (or E), Ritalin, Viagra and the like?
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:53 AM on April 5, 2004

As the article mentions, acid is much harder to produce than other drugs.

I'd actually disagree with this - I knew a couple of chemistry students at university who brewed some up, so it can't be that hard. On the other hand, MDMA is much, much harder to produce, and this is one of the main reasons why it tends to be "cut" with other drugs.

I think the article was right about the profitability - acid is very cheap to make. It's made by different suppliers than other drugs (e.g. e, coke, etc.), can be made in relatively large quantities at any one time. There's simply very little profit margin in it - it's not worth the hassle of trying to obtain it or resell it, considering that it's a class A (not sure what it's classed as in the US), and carries severe penalties. Possibly another reason is that if there are plenty of drugs available, the lesser known "brands" tend to be forgotten.
posted by BigCalm at 8:04 AM on April 5, 2004

Free Pickard
posted by magullo at 8:05 AM on April 5, 2004

I've just found out that the Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception is available online. He must be turning in his grave at that article.
posted by BigCalm at 8:07 AM on April 5, 2004

Out of curiosity, what was the summer of love in 1988? I've never heard of that before...
posted by ph00dz at 8:14 AM on April 5, 2004

I like how thye have now made the first progress ever in the drug war, and they have no idea why or how. That's good policymakin'!
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:28 AM on April 5, 2004

I guess (though I may be wrong) that the second summer of love in 1988 was mainly a UK phenomenon. It was the birthplace of most of the club/dance music culture of the 1990s. A lot of the influences were nicked from black and gay culture in the US and transplanted to warehouse parties, raves in fields around the M25 and festivals in remote parts of the south west of England.

Think acid house, Shoom, Ibiza, Vicks inhalers, ski masks, Everything begins with an E, smiley faces, bandanas, cycling shorts, moral outrage, the Criminal Justice Act...
posted by johnny novak at 8:38 AM on April 5, 2004

Out of curiosity, what was the summer of love in 1988?

A UK phenomenon. Ecstasy was just starting to take off in England, you had huge illegal warehouse parties going on all over the place, and the super-clubs (e.g. Cream) just starting, and tons and tons of Acid-house music and the Happy Mondays.
posted by BigCalm at 8:39 AM on April 5, 2004

Acid's down, but not out.
posted by Gyan at 8:39 AM on April 5, 2004

I once used acid and similar drugs quite frequently (seven years ago, of course), and, just wondering, are 'shrooms tough to procure nowadays?
posted by Kwantsar at 8:50 AM on April 5, 2004

Kwantsar: Not in UK.
posted by Gyan at 8:59 AM on April 5, 2004

I don't know about the US, but there's been a massive mushroom explosion over here in the UK recently. It seems that everybody suddenly realised that it's legal to sell 'shrooms. Now everybody is selling mushrooms. On my street in the East End, every coffee shop openly sells a wide variety of mushrooms - the one on the corner of my street seemed quite put out when I tried to buy just coffee, with no hallucinogens. Same with Oxford St. in town - big "MUSHROOMS" sandwhich boards all over the place.
posted by influx at 9:02 AM on April 5, 2004

'shrooms are slightly poisonous and easy to confuse with another more poisonous similar looking variety. i.e. If you're going picking yourself - always go with someone who knows what they're doing.
posted by BigCalm at 9:04 AM on April 5, 2004

Part of it's the market, but part of it is that all the cool kids do 2CB now - all the plusses of acid, just about none of the minuses. The war on drugs is just a selection pressure for the evolution of better drugs.
posted by badstone at 9:20 AM on April 5, 2004

Shrooms are, this never-quite-cool kid and hardcore Bill Hicks fan feels compelled to state, as healthy and important to a well-rounded upbringing as you can get, pharmacologically speaking.

May they never be criminalized in the UK. There's no at reason to, except that they're not profitable for Glaxo or Pfizer.

Which is the only real reason why they're illegal in the States.
posted by chicobangs at 9:40 AM on April 5, 2004

Was it perhaps replaced by Oxycontin, X (or E), Ritalin, Viagra and the like?

Don't know about Viagra, but in general I think E is part of the cause here -- better bang for the buck with less potential for bad trips.
posted by whoshotwho at 10:18 AM on April 5, 2004

ah, 2cb. I've never done it, but it is the inspiration for my favorite pair of contrasting anecdotes (both from anonymous sources):
For me, 2C-B seems to be in a different league from all other drugs. No other experience has come close to that of 2C-B. Superficially, it seems to lie somewhere between MDMA and psilocybin, i.e. it is both entactogenic (in a way I find more wholesome and satisfying than MDMA or MDE) and psychedelic. Unlike psilocybin, it leaves the ego much more intact - the mind remains clear and comfortable throughout. Unlike MDMA it is unlikely to cause inappropriate emotional bonding between people - only to encourage appropriate bonding.

My first experience with 2C-B was with four doses, each of about 20-25mg of the hydrochloride, spaced by 40 minute intervals. The experiment was conducted in private with one other person. Because of the spaced doses, the onset was gradual and gentle. I was slowly lifted out of my ordinary life, and taken to a state of pure heaven. Laurie Andersen once said "Paradise is like where you are right now, only much much better" and this about sums it up. Everything around me was somehow transformed into absolute perfection. There were mild visual distortions which were tasteful decorations but in no way got in the way. All sensation became the most pleasurable possible - food, touch, sound, sight, sex were all simply perfect, but none of this was at all overwhelming. Throughout I remained totally calm, rational, and in control, just feeling better than I have ever felt before. There was a sense of "this is the best - I have finally arrived - I am complete and need never look further than this." 2CB is heaven, but it is also mundane - there are no fireworks, no fake euphoria - the change is so subtle you could almost forget it is there. We weren't moved to do anything differently - just to exist in this in this beautiful state and behave normally.

With one foot in heaven and one foot on earth, just after the peak, I found myself in a state of introspection. I felt so indescribably emotionally beautiful that it brought me to tears. Then, all the cares and worries of recent weeks came flooding at me, but not at an unbearable rate. It was as if the 2C-B were saying "I have given you 2 hours of perfect bliss, but you are about to return to your normal life. Here are some issues which are bothering you, and now is the perfect time to do something about them". The self-analysis was honest and useful - not distorted and certainly not superficial - and it was compelling and motivating.

The comedown was slow and gentle. There was no sense of loss, no desire to regain the state immediately (or at all!); on the contrary, the subtle return to normality was welcome. Every state between heaven and earth felt just right.

If it is impossible to adequately describe any drug induced state in words, this is doubly true with 2C-B. For me, the 2C-B experience is unparalleled, so I would recommend that people try it. Some do not seem to enjoy it, some do not seem to understand it, but many do.

A few final notes: My experiences suggest that there is nothing that can be added to the 2C-B experience - nothing can make it better than it is, and so all other drugs should be avoided contemporaneously. Also, insufflation seems to increase the potency 2-3 times, as well as somewhat shortening the duration. The onset is rapid (half to three minutes) and somewhat disorienting, and can approach the feel and intensity of smoked DMT, particularly in a visual sense. The burning pain associated with snorting 2C-B can detract from the experience initially.
But then this fella had quite a different experience:
2cb unfortunately is now scheduled. I had the opportunity to experience it about a year ago before scheduling and I'll tell you a bit about it.

A friend of mine and I weighed out 25mg each and proceeded to ingest it via insufflation. Needless to say, it was the most painful annoying long lasting burn I have ever felt. It burned my sinuses and all the way down the back of my throat as I got the "drips". My face felt like it was going to fall off. Combine this with virtually instant disorientation and nausea, you get two guys that are scared shitless. I've done my share of excessive hallucinogen doses. But this didn't even come close to comparing to any of them. It felt like we jumped out of a building and were free falling faster and faster into a psychedelic world which didn't seem all that great in lieu of the aforementioned symptoms. I was actually pretty sure we had od'd and contemplated calling 911. Unfortunately, I couldn't even make it to the phone if I tried. We had a sober friend watch us and make sure we were physically ok. As the trip picked up speed and intensity, shit got really strange. On most hallucinogens, you can make things move if you stare at em for a bit, but in this world, EVERYTHING is moving and doesn't stop. Which made me start to feel motion sickness. I saw 4 foot fluroescent spheres float by with intricate fractal patterns on them. Our 'guide' wasn't all that bright and was flipping tv channels and stopped on True Stories of The Highway Patrol. Not a good thing to watch in this state of mind. We then proceeded to wheel of fortune where I can swear the people were in the middle of the living room and letters were flying by us. The experience was like going from sober to 1000mcg in about 5 minutes. It was actually pretty scary because we both thought we'd finally done it and were gonna die. But we were too tweaked to express it. About an hour into it, we realized we were going to live and the nausea and burning had for the most part subsided, save the fact that my nose and sinuses were swollen for about 2 days. After about an hour, it gets kind of like an intense LSD trip.. the coolest thing is there is really no analytical game playing as with LSD and you can pretty much discuss what's going on with a good deal of coherence. The effects dropped off pretty rapidly and by the 4 hour mark we felt almost totally sober.

I've done 2cb via capsule and have never had it affect me that way at even 2 and 3 times the dose. It's something I'll never do again because of A. the pain and B. the intensity. It was too much too fast. I might eat it again though if it ever becomes unscheduled ;). I did notice something interesting though. At sea level, a 20 mg dose is pretty mellow... kinda like LSD but feels more like Mescaline. Yet, we also did it at a campground in the mountains 6000 feet up. It took under 20 minutes to hit orally while at sea level it was over an hour. Mind you both times this was done with a full stomach with exactly the same type of food. I thought it curious that it was so much more intense at altitude than sea level and know it wasn't just a fluke situational thing.. any ideas?

Have fun.. good luck and be careful. If you're gonna snort it, be prepared for lots of pain and a 50% chance of hurling. Also, don't do what a guy we know did and call 911 because he thought he was gonna wig out. He got transported to the hospital and by the time he got there about an hour had gone by and it was tolerable. Needless to say, he felt like an idiot. Moral: No matter where you are, hold tight, about an hour into it.. you'll mellow way out.

It's also kinda hard on the body too.. really tweaky. Nice thing about it is, that when it's over, it's over. No lingering head buzzing and loops like the end of an LSD trip where you're no longer hallucinating but are still unable to sleep. This stuff has a really sharp peak and drop off.

posted by alms at 10:26 AM on April 5, 2004

I've tried 2CB a few times, and it really is a terrific drug. I don't know if it's normally cut with speed like acid, but mine wasn't, so that may have played a part.

But, yeah, I think LSD is just being supplanted with better drugs. The first time I took acid was a personally profound moment, but I could have done without the last 4 hours of it.
posted by mkultra at 10:50 AM on April 5, 2004

> Everything begins with an E,

Hey, I remember e-tards! A nicer class of stoner you could hardly want.
posted by jfuller at 11:05 AM on April 5, 2004

E is part of the cause here -- better bang for the buck with less potential for bad trips

Though I believe it's personal preference, I'm not certain that's entirely true. In some ways ecstacy has been simply better marketed and gained a higher level of social acceptance.

In the early 1990's, one could score LSD for under $1, where X, E, MDMA were more expensive and difficult to find. Sometime in the mid 1990's, LSD skyrocketed in price and the latter came down in price.

While in clubs, I hardly ever heard anyone pushing LSD, yet nearly every night you could see people walking calmly through the club muttering, "X, E, Ecstacy, MDMA". This lead me to believe that excstacy is somehow more socially acceptable.

Lastly, following the 1988 phenomenon, the rave scene took off in the states. This provided a flood of cheap drugs to those who wanted it. In 1991, at my first rave, you could find LSD for next to nothing, but ectasy was nowhere to be found. By 1996, at my last rave, LSD was close to impossible to find, though Special K and Ecstacy were passed around like cheap candy.

The crowd was entirely different. In 1996, it was cool. There were ravers much like people who followed the Dead. In 1991, it was a bunch of high school and college kids who went to a party.

(This is my experience in numerous American and European clubs and cities. Your millage may vary.)
posted by sequential at 11:09 AM on April 5, 2004

From personal experience, while interesting in its own right, 2-CB doesn't compare to acid, and MDMA (Ecstasy) isn't even in the same cosmic ballpark. Psilocybin and mescaline (the latter well-nigh impossible to find on the street, no matter what you're told) are more comparable, but LSD is sui generis -- its own tool, with its own uses, if decidedly not for everyone. Phrases like "better drugs" just blur distinctions that are important to maintain, in the face of massive disinfo from government and media.

That Phish/Grateful Dead joke, by the way, has been told so often for a joke that wasn't funny the first time, it deserves its own category on snopes.com -- jokes that are rumored to be funny.
posted by digaman at 11:23 AM on April 5, 2004

digaman: Phrases like "better drugs" just blur distinctions that are important to maintain

Just like almost everything else, there isn't any universal yardstick, but I do think, for a particular psychological profile, some drugs are more amiable than others.
posted by Gyan at 11:48 AM on April 5, 2004

It must be almost ten years since I did acid the last time. Like jonmc, I came of age in an environment of sacramental LSD. I dropped only four times over a two or three year period, and each time it was with close friends in a specifically chosen setting. We had some truly magical times that changed my life for the better. I don't recommend it for everyone; it's not a party drug. I couldn't help but feel sad so see use might be in decline. With what is facing young adults now, they could use some insight.
posted by squirrel at 11:56 AM on April 5, 2004

From what I've heard, E is death on those of us with depression. Nice high, horrible black-hole-tar-pit depression afterwards.

I've also been reading that acid and 'shrooms aren't all that hot for brains that are already chemically unbalanced.

posted by five fresh fish at 12:13 PM on April 5, 2004

I did LSD back in the late 70's. I remember actually going a bit paranoid on it. Not a good thing.

People, I know it's fun, but don't play with your brain chemicals. If you screw them up, you are in a world of hurt.
posted by konolia at 12:17 PM on April 5, 2004

acid? all the cool kids now are just drinking cough syrup.

seriously, i never wanted to try it myself. had an aunt who took a bunch of hits at once back in the late 70's / early 80's, blacked out, woke up a week or so later naked in the desert, with no idea where she'd been, how she got there, why she was nude, or what (or even who) she may have done. well, that's the story she admitted to anyway. don't know what else she may have been on (and i imagine it was probably a lot). kinda took the urge out of me.

my freshman year roommate took a few hits, and spent an hour explaining to me how cool it was to stare at a blank wall. like the best TV show he'd ever seen. guess i have better things to do with my brain than stare at a blank wall for an hour. not that i'd be opposed to a substance that, say, makes you giggly and kinda hungry, y'know... just not really into acid.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:19 PM on April 5, 2004

In an appropriate safe environment with handlers that I trust, I would love to drop acid. I believe it would be a revelationary experience (or, at least, would seem so at the time). But I fear for fucking-up my delicate brain chemistry, which has betrayed me time and again.

posted by five fresh fish at 12:27 PM on April 5, 2004

LSD - it was the best of times; it was the worst of times.
posted by Blue Stone at 1:02 PM on April 5, 2004

Welcome to MetaFilter, caution live frogs. Your comments on drugs are just the kind of half-informed mishmash of fear, superiority and curiosity that the proponents of the war on drugs would hope for. Except for the curiosity, of course, but you seem well on your way to extinguishing that.

You even paraphrase that The AntiDrug campaign slogan about having better things to do. Funny that you don't have better things to do than talk down your nose about an experience you seem to know little about first hand.

I don't know you, so don't take my criticism personally. I have a rather large burr under my saddle about people who create an opinion about an entire culture based on a few individuals they have come into contact with, or have heard about... particularly when that culture has been criminalized.
posted by squirrel at 2:05 PM on April 5, 2004

It's particulary galling when drugs like Effexor, known to carry a risk of causing permanent and undesirable personality changes in some people, are entirely legal.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:23 PM on April 5, 2004

acid just lasts waaay too long for today's youth. Plus, a lot of the 'acid' that was being sold wasn't LSD at all , or was heavily cut with other drugs. In general, LSD doesn't fit in with today's lifestyle the way MDMA, cocaine, and others do.
posted by chaz at 2:38 PM on April 5, 2004

Nicotine and caffeine have a huge impact on my brain chemistry. I used to be hooked on cigarettes, and I'm still not in the clear almost five years later. Whenever I take caffeine in one of its myriad legal forms, I experience fluctuations between anxiety and torpor for 48 hours or more. Plus I get headaches if I don't duplicate (and preferably escalate) the dose within 24 hours, which often leads to week-long benders, the comedown of which is worse for me than post-E.

Nicotine absolutely changed the way I experienced the world. My spontaneous fits of out-of-proportion rage, which I had for years just chalked up as part of my temperament, completely disappeared (in that obnoxious form) after being clean of nicotine for a year. I still get angry now, of course, but there's a big difference. I see that difference every time I fall off the wagon and have a few smokes with friends at the bar. As soon as withdrawal kicks in, bang, there's that tendency toward sudden rage.

The war on drugs is a sick joke.

On preview: Chaz, you're right about LSD being a poor fit for the Nintendo generation. With acid, you really have to be committed to a 24-hour experience. It takes planning. My friends an I usually dropped with tea and oranges for breakfast.
posted by squirrel at 2:57 PM on April 5, 2004

My theory is LSD went off the market because of MDMA.
At $5 a hit, the most a dealer could make was $5. At $15-$30 a hit, MDMA has a much better potential margin.
posted by Leonard at 3:22 PM on April 5, 2004

A few information links: Lycaeum, Erowid.

FFF: your brain chemistry is about as delicate as a weather system. Some people can induce catastrophic turbulence by eating sugar while others can drop a milligram of acid with no ill effects. Suggesting/prescribing psychoactives is a lot like long range weather forecasting, your knowledge of the initial state is limited and error necessarily builds over time.

Inhibitors are slightly easier to predict (which means LSD isn't). With acid you're likely to see altered perceptions, mild euphoria and anxiety. An enormous amount has been written about anxiety (which I won't attempt to repeat), and in the case of LSD you really need to have a handle on it. If you are in any doubt about your reaction to an increased anxiety state (and you intend to drop acid) you are forecasting beyond any reasonable expectation of accuracy. Many people have reported that an LSD experience has forced them to reevaluate their handle on anxiety which has proven to be psychologically healthy. Many others have reported inducing an unresolved crisis state that does nothing but throw them into a nightmarish anxiety state for hours on end (bad trips). YMMV.
posted by snarfodox at 4:00 PM on April 5, 2004

my own experience with LSD: did it quite a lot during the early 90's. at first i loved it and had a great time, but the more i used it, the less friendly it became. the last couple of trips were complete nightmares (bad trips). i did X two times: the first, a great time was had by all, the second time, orgy. needless to say, i prefer X.
posted by poopy at 4:19 PM on April 5, 2004

To clarify, the "mild euphoria" snarfodox talks about is dopaminergic euphoria. A plus-four experience ("transcendental euphoria") is a different, indescribable experience altogether.
posted by Gyan at 4:21 PM on April 5, 2004

The only cliche caution live frog's post is missing is the old gem, "I don't need drugs! I'm weird enough as it is!"
posted by jennyb at 4:22 PM on April 5, 2004

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Ken Kesey pass in 2001?

posted by Old Man Wilson at 5:29 PM on April 5, 2004

The only cliche caution live frog's post is missing is the old gem, "I don't need drugs! I'm weird enough as it is!"

Does anybody else remember the Partnership for a Drug Free America's follow-up to the classic "brain on drugs" commercial, where a girl fries an egg, but then completely loses it, starts screaming, and destroys her kitchen with a frying pan?

That was awesome.
posted by eddydamascene at 6:11 PM on April 5, 2004

From what I've heard, E is death on those of us with depression.

My understanding of MDMA (Ecstasy) is that it jams itself into the serotonin receptors of the brain. Essentially, Prozac does something similar, albeit on a much smaller scale, to help regulate the amount of serotonin reaching the receptors. In theory, a depressed brain doesn't generate enough serotonin to give your receptors a "normal" dose of happy. Clogging some of the receptors allows the working receptors to receive a "normal" amount of serotonin and makes you a happy and productive consumer.

MDMA, on the other hand, jams itself into a large majority of your open receptors, causing a massive flow of serotonin to a few open receptors, getting you that feel-good high. I imagine an OD of Prozac would accomplish the same results if you didn't die first. The problem with MDMA is that it can clog your receptors for years at a time. One use could cause long-term depressive effects and should be avoided by anybody with a family history of depression or mental illness.

LSD works in an entirely different manner. It's generally completely out of your body before your trip even starts.
posted by fatbobsmith at 6:12 PM on April 5, 2004

fatbobsmith: LSD works in an entirely different manner. It's generally completely out of your body before your trip even starts.

Nope. I haven't felt compelled to visit the bathroom between ingestion and trip-start. LSD has a half-life of 5 hours in the bloodstream with a peak concentration at 2 hours after ingestion. It's true that only a small fraction of the ingested LSD crosses the blood-brain barrier. Majority of the LSD collects in your intestines.

As far as LSD's mechanism is concerned, it varyingly affects firing patterns in certain parts of your brain, notably Locus Coerulus and Raphe Nuclei. These structures affect sensory stimulation, arousal, attention..etc
posted by Gyan at 7:03 PM on April 5, 2004

Your Brain on Ecstacy from DanceSafe tells a lot about the MDMA/SSRI/MAO actions, with nice little diagrams to boot.

There are a couple ways the after-E downer acts:

- serotonin is broken down after re-uptake, to be remanufactured (sounds like tire retreading!) If you gush all your serotonin reserves out in one big happy E trip, you've got nuttin' to fall back on. Not good.

- the serotonin receptors can be overstimulated, causing them to quit working. If there's no place for the serotonin to plug in, it ain't a happy thing. It can take quit some time for them to all get fixed up. Not good.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:20 PM on April 5, 2004

The anarchists cookbook has the recipe for lsd. At least my copy from the 70's or 80's does. You'd have to be a chemist to understand it...but it's there, none the less.

Ah, acid...how I loved acid. My sister and I once went through about 300 hits one summer. (We shared some of it, mind you...being good hearted Texas gals.) Good times...good times. That was the summer we were convinced that aliens had landed in our backyard, and were coming to steal our chocolate chip cookies...because we make really amazing cookies...we were really mad at the aliens. Then we decided that we would just make extra for them...as that just seemed like the neighborly thing to do. Someone ate the alien's cookies...I'm just saying...we had a crop circle and missing cookies. Apparently, the greens like chocolate.

There's just something about being way out in the country, with a pot of tea, a few hits of acid, and the stars. Magnificent.

I wouldn't trade that summer for anything. But man, I dread the day when my son is old enough to have the drug talk...I mean, I've tried most everything except heroin or any drug that requires more apparatus than can be created from paper, I think...it's not like I've got a real ethic foundation from which to proclaim that "drugs are bad, mmkay"...because I don't think they are. Irresponsible behavior on drugs is bad...but the drugs themselves...not so much.
posted by dejah420 at 9:30 PM on April 5, 2004

LSD is usually taken orally, and may be sniffed in powdered form or injected in solution. While it is available in ordinary capsules or tablets, LSD is often impregnated in such innocuous substances as sugar cubes, candies, biscuits, and cloth or blotter sections for oral use. It is well absorbed from the gastro-intestinal tract, is distributed in the blood and easily diffuses into the brain, and in pregnant females crosses the placental barrier into the foetus. Although only a tiny portion actually reaches the central nervous system, LSD is one of the most potent biologically active substances known and, in some individuals, exerts a noticeable psychological effect with quantities as low as 20 to 30 micrograms (millionths of a gram). Customary doses are usually around 200 mcg and some individuals have taken up to several thousand micrograms.

Taken orally, LSD effects usually occur within an hour but may be much faster; response to intramuscular injection usually appears within ten minutes; and if the intravenous route is used, the latency may be only a few minutes or less. The duration of the action depends to a certain extent on the amount taken, and with a customary dose, major effects usually last 8-12 hours or more with gradual recovery over a similar period. Essentially all of the LSD in the body is metabolized into an inactive substance in the liver and excreted.

(emphasis mine)
posted by five fresh fish at 9:32 PM on April 5, 2004

I think you'll find, dejah, that if you don't idly tell stories of how glorious your drug-using years were (are), but let it be understood that you have, in the past, done drugs, you'll find an appropriate time to tell your children that if they ever feel like they want to try drugs - alcohol to pot to cocaine - that it is important to do it right. That means being brave and smart enough to come to you, so that you can purchase safe drugs that aren't going to kill them because of contanimation, and to do those drugs with you so that s/he can learn how to use them correctly, effectively, and in an environment where if s/he has a bad time, s/he is safe.

This is how I the approached the subject with the boy I'm father-figure to, and so far despite the continuous presence of drugs in the skateboard park, he has not partaken.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:39 PM on April 5, 2004

part of it is that all the cool kids do 2CB now

ah...candy flipping ye olde "2"...bliss.
posted by juv3nal at 11:23 PM on April 5, 2004

eddydamascene, I too remember that commerical well. The girl is Rachael Leigh Cook, and she's never topped that performance.
posted by of strange foe at 8:31 AM on April 6, 2004

squirrel - thanks for the welcome; ah, well here i comment then get called out. i read a bunch of people giving their own experiences, i give you mine: acid is one drug that i never felt any inclination to try, whether through scary stories told to me as a kid, or whether personally i didn't want to drop any as a freshman in college, a time when many of us experiment with a whole lot of stuff. i did (and do) experiment, but acid just wasn't one of the things i was interested in. i didn't give anyone my Professional Opinion that it wasn't worth trying, just that i wasn't ever interested in doing so. suddenly i'm an anti-drug commercial? i wouldn't be a very good example of that.

i do think that much of this is a personal decision. you need to decide for yourself what to do with your brain. i wouldn't be willing to try the various forms of amphetamines either, knowing what i do about excitotoxic brain lesions. i wouldn't want to start smoking crack or shooting heroin either, given the general outcome of addiction and dependance. i don't want to mess with anything that could play hell with dopamine pathways, as i don't want to end up with parkinsons. (studying neuroanatomy, etc. kinda turns you off on these things, much like being a cancer ward employee might make you not so keen on smoking.)

if you want to do these things, fine. i'll stick with what i'm happy with, and let you do what you want. but that doesn't mean i'm a nark, or that i just don't "get it", or that i'm next in line to be a drug czar. that just means it's not my bag. to be fair, lucid dreaming would be an interesting thing to experience; if LSD acts on the locus coeruleus it's acting on the primary center controlling REM sleep. but i've gone this far in life without experiencing that, and i don't feel like i'm missing out. the whole "studying the brain" thing again - probably i overthink it.

for the record, the war on drugs is a waste. there are substances out there that can wreck a community, either by the effects on the individual or by the infighting that occurs between rival drug distributors. but we don't go after the right people - the ones using the drugs create the demand and the ban on drugs creates the high street prices. on the other hand, we allow the sale of weight-loss pills that contain one form of methamphetamine-like substance or the other, we allow the sale of alcohol and tobacco. i'd like to see a war on the herbal supplements industry, or at least some cap on claims they make, some regulation of purity/quality, and some actual data on the risks or benefits. i'd like to see anything that, used responsibly, causes as "little" damage to self or others as alcohol and tobacco legalized (and that would include a whole lot, given how dangerous to self and others alcohol and tobacco have repeatedly proven to be). i'd like to see the price of coffee higher than the price of coca. and i'd for damn sure like the people in elected office who have tried various drugs before to stop being so damn hypocritical when it comes to dealing with them, and admit that, for instance, pot is only a gateway drug because you have to go to a friggin' drug dealer to get it.

and fatbobsmith - MDMA and prozac dump extra serotonin, to increase uptake. blocking receptors would block the effects of the drug. the problem is that (as FFF said) it takes a while to regenerate serotonin. and, as FFF said, and as i said above, excitotoxic lesions - overstimulation will kill neurons. you don't want to kill all the cells that make up your happy pathway. that's a bad, bad thing - think the downswing of a manic depressive, but permanently.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:44 AM on April 6, 2004

frogs: I feel bad, ganging up on a monkey, but you didn't provide experiences, you provided anecdotes. And misinformed anecdotes at that. In your first post, you said your aunt recounted taking acid, blacking out for a week. The acid trip never extends beyond 8-14 hours. Most of my close friends have tried, by staggered dosing. Doesn't happen. Unlike ketamine, that is the very first anecdote I've heard where someone blacked out from taking acid. And I've researched extensively on acid at Medline, eMedicine, Erowid, MAPS...etc.

guess i have better things to do with my brain than stare at a blank wall for an hour

Here we go again. Does your roommate normally like to stare at blank walls for an hour? If not, it stands to reason that the acid makes staring at blank walls somehow tolerable and interesting. Again, here you are projecting your simulation and conception of the wall-staring experience onto an acid-tripper. Since you don't know acid tripping is like (by your own admission), you don't know staring at walls is like, on acid. So your rejection of its value is essentially uninformed.

i wouldn't want to start smoking crack or shooting heroin either, given the general outcome of addiction and dependance.

This is again, not an experience, but a projection. If you use heroin, you will become an addict.
posted by Gyan at 9:21 AM on April 6, 2004

gyan - human behavior. you can learn from experience, or you can learn through observation. i project that getting bitten by a bear will hurt; i've observed videos of bear attacks and it doesn't look like something i want to do. but that doesn't mean i won't be able to understand this fully unless i'm bitten by a bear. if there were no learning through observation or through projected cause and effect or whatnot, it would be very hard for us to get anywhere. i see my grandparents die of lung cancer, i'm less likely to smoke. that sort of thing. it's natural risk assesment.

in my friend's case, i saw a blank wall. i saw that all of his "really amazing new friends" were kinda worthless. when they started stealing from him, he thought it was cool. when one of them punched his tooth out, he wasn't too angry. years later when he was finally more sober, he realized that they were assholes, and that the drugs made them cool to him at the time.

meth. (no experience with heroin here, sorry.) my brother was a meth addict for over two years. he pissed away every dime he made and then some, he looked like he was anorexic, and he's scared of falling back into the habit to this day. this is again learning from observation rather than experience. yes, not everyone who tries it gets addicted - i never stated that. i did say that the chance of becoming an addict is high with certain drugs, and that generally these are the ones that are the toughest to quit once you're hooked.

(and i did say that my aunt was probably doing a lot of other drugs at the time; to my impressionable young mind she kept repeating "acid". i've not used, so by observation that's what i learned: don't drop acid unless you want to wake up naked in the desert. more than likely she was trying to "scare us straight". i learned later on that, like many a california-livin' rich girl, she was into a lot of drugs in the early 80's. which is part of the reason my uncle eventually divorced her - too much drug, not enough recovery.)

anyway don't feel bad. it's probably my fault for posting in a thread about acid anyway. people tend to be protective when their favorite recreational activities are bashed by an outsider. i just gave my take - "never saw a reason". i don't know how many other people are posting in this thread who have never tried acid either - i was apparently the only person to explicitly say so. and given the way i phrased my post, i was confronted.

but to be honest i once never saw the reason in a lot of things i do. probably it's the context in which you learn about things.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:18 AM on April 6, 2004

frogs: you can learn through observation

But the scientific method is refined methodical observation. Magic isn't really magic because you observed it.

in my friend's case, i saw a blank wall.

Exactly. You projected your sober assessment onto the acid tripper's qualia. Since you're into studying neuroscience, you ought to explicitly be aware that qualias aren't shared or really communicable. And unlike bear biting, that's what drugs do. They affect qualia.

and that generally these are the ones that are the toughest to quit once you're hooked.

Seems like you didn't completely read the Economist article I linked to. It covers the "worst drugs" and their recovery.

so by observation that's what i learned: don't drop acid unless you want to wake up naked in the desert.

Well, you heard an anecdote from a trusted source and took it to heart. But anecdotes or individual cases obscure or destroy context. If someone new to both, eats three chocolate bars and drinks a bottle of strong vodka, passes out, and mentions only the chocolate next week, you would naturally assume that chocolate can be deadly in those doses. But the key here is to keep yourself informed. Try to broaden your research, factor in biases, study in depth. Drugs aren't harmless, like the unfortunate case of your brother shows, but drugs by themselves aren't harmful. Context matters (dosage, combinations, psychological profile, mood, setting) and in this "drugs are bad" atmosphere, anecdotes and limited observations don't provide that proper context. That's what the scientific method and objective thinking aims to rectify.
posted by Gyan at 11:46 AM on April 6, 2004

point taken, gyan. although in that time, and that context, i think i made the right decision, even if based on faulty data. if i was to drop acid, my freshman year wasn't the right time/place/crowd to do so. i use as proof my roommate and long-time friend, who decided it was the right time/place/crowd, and ended up high as a kite, broke, on academic probation after one semester, and out of school completely the next. took him a long, long time to get on his feet again.

(and let's be honest - how many people do a scientific investigation to determine whether or not a certain drug is for you? most of us hear "dude, this is awesome" or "dude, this will fuck you up, in a bad way". not entirely scientific but in my personal experience a lot of drug-related decisions are based on that.)

so, hey, anybody wanna make a phish joke again and get this thread back on track?
posted by caution live frogs at 12:04 PM on April 6, 2004

let's be honest - how many people do a scientific investigation to determine whether or not a certain drug is for you?

Far too few. This is one of the central problems with the "war on drugs." It lumps all "drugs" into one category that includes pot, acid, x, cocaine, heroin, meth, pcp, and any number of other things. It labels them all bad. It doesn't make any distinctions among them. And it excludes alcohol and tobacco from the category, even though they are unquestionably the most harmful psychoactive substances in the world.

Yes, it's true. To use psychoactive substances responsibly you need to be informed. It won't work to "just say no" or "just do it, dude." If you want to use your brain to its max, you have to use your brain.

Of course, the war on drugs discourages this. It's just like the fundies and the Catholic church who don't want people to know about birth control and STD protection. They think people will be corrupted by information and that it's better for people to "just say no" to sex. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. People get hurt because they don't have the information that they need. "Just say no" turns into "maybe this once" and it's with the wrong partner, the wrong drug, without the right protection, and you end up naked in the desert and maybe pregnant and infected with genital warts to boot.
posted by alms at 1:02 PM on April 6, 2004

I sure as hell have researched every drug, licit and illicit, that has entered my body.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:25 PM on April 6, 2004

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