The Vaults of Erowid
May 12, 2004 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Don't Get High Without It. Interesting article about The Vaults of Erowid and the people behind it. [Via Hit & Run.]
posted by homunculus (26 comments total)
There's also the Lycaeum.
posted by Gyan at 12:27 PM on May 12, 2004

i gotta say, erowid has been a hugely valuable resource to me, both in my wild and crazy days, and in my more sedate current existance.
it's where i point people any time i get asked questions about recreational pharmocology.
posted by dolface at 12:43 PM on May 12, 2004

A really good article I must say. Very quotable if I felt the need to start quoting it. Before I go into a spiel I found this point really interesting:
For the last few years, nearly half of their costs were floated by Bob Wallace, employee number nine at Microsoft and a strong supporter of psychedelic research. But Wallace died unexpectedly in his San Rafael home in the fall of 2002, and Erowid’s coffers are now basically empty.
I always wondered how Erowid maintained themselves. Found it mildly amusing an MS employee was doing it, too bad he passed away.

This article was decidely non-partisan and promoted the position of "your choice". Government anti-drug information is biased to say the least, and everyone knows that. The only teens who listen to those PSAs are teens who would never do drugs in the first place. Erowid provides people to make the choice by mainly the experience reports.

The experience reports are always on the extreme end it seems. Someone taking 70-80 grams of shrooms (isn't the normal dosage ~7 grams?) and then totally flipping out. Well no shit, Sherlock. But at least that report is out there. So I'm on the verge of just rehashing the article. I guess the main point was "information good. information free. government bad. government restricts information"

I kind of want someone to make a similar site on mainstream drugs. Let's here real reports of people on Lipitrol or Accutane.
posted by geoff. at 12:43 PM on May 12, 2004

I had to check out that Freevibe site mentioned in the article described as "a sassy anti-drug Web site created by Disney and the Office of National Drug Control Policy." There are some hilarious nuggets like:
You can't party if you're in a coma!
Totaly dude.
The people who profit from the $400 billion global drug business-and yes, marijuana is a big part of this business-are creep factor nine.
I would estimate their creep factor to be more like seven.
When you see that first clothing ad in the magazine you're flipping through over lunch, think about how you would explain this ad to an alien from outer space. When you see that second ad, have another imaginary conversation with that alien. How would you explain how this ad makes you feel?
Conversations with imaginary aliens? Who's on the drugs now?
When you're surfing the Web, think about who put up the Web site you're looking at. Do they really know what they're talking about?
Good question.
Teens who use drugs are 5 times more likely to have sex than are those teens who do not use drugs.
Telling teens that using drugs is likely to get them laid sounds like a poor strategy for stopping drug use.
posted by euphorb at 1:23 PM on May 12, 2004 [2 favorites]

I always wanted to try absinthe. Don't know why. Ever do any?
posted by wsg at 1:33 PM on May 12, 2004

I have half a bottle under my desk right now. Really.
posted by mr.marx at 1:39 PM on May 12, 2004

There are many makers of absinthe out there now, but none are anything like the real stuff used back in the heyday by Van Gogh and the like. You can find decent recipes online to make your own, but certain ingredients are hard to come by... my friends and I tried it once and we essentially spent the night doing shots of a mixture tasting like grain alcohol with grass clippings
posted by adamms222 at 2:07 PM on May 12, 2004

Freevibe has a page that scorns companies who market products to go with a lifestyle, and at the same time offered a "DKNY® Jeans anti-drug calendar." It's pretty funny.
posted by abcde at 2:13 PM on May 12, 2004

Someone taking 70-80 grams of shrooms (isn't the normal dosage ~7 grams?)

5 grams dry is I think considered a rather large amount. 70 or 80 is ridiculous.

But remember, for most drugs closely related to LSD, after a certain dosage they basically entirely deplete a certain chemical (not sure on the details) and after that point every dose will work about the same. After that point the main health risk to worry about is toxicity. So 70 isn't going to be 10 times more extreme (however you measure that) hallucinations than 7, but it's still gonna be pretty bad, and risky for other reasons.
posted by abcde at 2:19 PM on May 12, 2004

There are many makers of absinthe out there now, but none are anything like the real stuff used back in the heyday by Van Gogh and the like.

Legend has it that there is a pub in Copenhagen that sells the real deal. Other than that, no, no tujone.

But it's nonetheless strong as hell, so it works quite well anyway...
posted by mr.marx at 2:23 PM on May 12, 2004

had absinthe for the first time 2 nights ago. putrid stuff! admittedly, it was the non-wormwood, 120-proof kind (from Vienna), but it still felt like a punch to the face.

the best analogy to drinking it was the feeling of "a ghost walking through you." yummy.
posted by krunk at 2:31 PM on May 12, 2004

“Erowid shouldn’t have to do what it’s doing. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t exist. This work would be done by the government.”


I've known Earth and Fire for several years, and they are awesome, intelligent, and determined people. Their work on Erowid is a tremendous boon to the web-at-large, and if you have a couple of spare bucks, I urge you to support them by buying a t-shirt or something. (Plus, they used to live across the street from Koko the talking gorilla, so, that was cool.) We will now resume our normal programming.

As for absinthe, I've had a good deal of success with the traditional ones (not the junky novelty "red" or whatever) from here. I can't say for 100% sure that they contain thujone, but it sure isn't your regular everyday alcohol. Pretty good chance it's the genuine article, though - I recommend the Deva or LaSala for a good start.
posted by majcher at 2:53 PM on May 12, 2004

abcde: But remember, for most drugs closely related to LSD, after a certain dosage they basically entirely deplete a certain chemical (not sure on the details) and after that point every dose will work about the same. After that point the main health risk to worry about is toxicity.

Cite? LSD et al. "entirely deplete a certain chemical"?? MDMA pumps out copious amounts of serotonin, but that's a stimulant. Most hallucinogens work by disrupting the proverbial cogs in the machine. LSD, for example, alters firing patterns in structures like the Raphe Nuclei and Locus Coerulus. This triggers a cascade of effects, which constitute the "trip".
posted by Gyan at 3:06 PM on May 12, 2004

Hey, I posted this at 12:12, and the previous post was posted was at 11:11. Now that's trippy.
posted by homunculus at 3:15 PM on May 12, 2004

Actually, the herbs in absinthe are quite easy to find at any health food shop. The main ones I remember are wormwood of course, hyssop, mint, and lemon balm. I made it one time following the Pernod recipe from Scientific American (scaled down from its original 500L batch of course). The product after distillation was light green, very herby smelling, and produced the milky white louche when poured over ice. Because it's made from Everclear the taste was...firey. And bitter. More bitter than anything else I can remember. Taking a shot of the stuff is NOT recommended, as the high alcohol content can cause one's throat to swell shut. The effects are pretty much as you'd expect from drinking what's basically Everclear with a few herbs mixed get hammered and not much else.
posted by TungstenChef at 4:05 PM on May 12, 2004

erowid is one of the sites that makes the internet worthwhile for me. along with amazon, google and
posted by jcruelty at 4:50 PM on May 12, 2004

Everything you ever want to know about absinthe right here. Don't make it yourself!-Some very fine absinthes are available. I've never had a problem with mail order from Europe. And last time I went through customs at JFK nobody questioned the bottles I had with me (it's not illegal to possess-just banned by the FDA)
posted by quercus at 5:43 PM on May 12, 2004

Erowid rocks. I remember listening to streaming MP3 audio (can't remember the site name, sorry) of a conference Fire and Earth were at, where they talked on a panel about their work. One of the funnier quotes that stuck with me was one of them comparing the their giant trip reports database to the drug version of Penthouse Forum letters: "Dear Erowid, I never thought this would ever happen to me, but there I was, taking 4-HO-DiPT and..."
posted by Asparagirl at 8:23 PM on May 12, 2004

there are some insane trip reports, sure. but for the most part, they're slightly amusing, cautionary, or as normal as people tripping ever are.

real absinthe tastes more of licorice than everclear. but, then, it's supposed to be imbibed after being diluted and mixed with or poured through sugar. not quite like taking shots.
posted by ubersturm at 9:01 PM on May 12, 2004

uberstrum: So the same story is both amusing and cautionary? ;)
posted by abcde at 10:26 PM on May 12, 2004

I get a combination of cluster headache and migraines with aura, and I get them chronically. Some days I'm pretty normal. Some days I walk around with a mass of visual and auditory hallucinations and knife-like head pains. Sometimes I lie in a bathtub (or somewhere where I'm likely to do the least damage through explosive sympathetic muscle contractions) and 'white out', where pain and aura stimuli wipe out my perception of the world in a haze of white-noise. Punching through to that level isn’t so terrible, because after the ‘kick’ into altered perception I don’t really feel very bad. I have a perception of self, but none of my senses are available to me. The problem is that I tend to come back to normal perception with lots of bruises and black patches on my skin from where blood vessels have exploded from tension. Bleeding from exploded capillaries behind the eyes tends to horrify my loved ones, so I took to (possibly dangerously) locking myself away while symptomatic.

Strong narcotic analgesics didn't do much (I can't feel a reduction in symptoms before my respiratory system is dangerously depressed), so I don't use them anymore. They've got some shocking health repercussions in the long term anyway. Most of the normal prophylactic medications applied to migraine seemed to cause a short term reduction in frequency and then rebound with increased frequency and severity. I did find a reasonably effective abortive in sumatriptan, though some of them (somewhere between a quarter and a third) still got through.

After reading through Erowid, being interested in how triptans do what they do, I came across some research (and a host of other references that it then led me to) that seemed interesting. I then discovered that certain strong hallucinogens were even more effective than sumatriptan as both abortive and prophylactic and (for me) were much cheaper and easier to obtain. I have combined their use with a suggestion (and pharmacological support) from my doctor where I can anaesthetize myself as required, which seems to provide a liveable solution.

Erowid is an incredible resource, and characterising it as being about recreational substances would be foolish (do a search for ‘migraine’ for example). I'm positive that it saves lives.
posted by snarfodox at 11:04 PM on May 12, 2004 [1 favorite]

I'm drinking real absinthe as I type this. It's legal again in Europe, with lower limits for max tujone. It's legal to own in the US, but not to sell. There are probably ways to order it online though. I rather enjoy it.
posted by muckster at 11:16 PM on May 12, 2004

abcde -- LSD toxicity is not an issue; it's psychoactive in quantities several orders of magnitude smaller than would be required to cause physical harm.
posted by Tlogmer at 1:00 AM on May 13, 2004

ubersterm - That's right, it did taste of licorice too, that was a long time ago. We tried it traditionally prepared first poured over sugar and ice, but it proved far too bitter to drink more than a glass. Think Pernod (which is absinthe minus the wormwood) but also intensely bitter. It looks like my memory was a little fuzzy on the details of makng it too. Here's the recipe I followed, scaled down to produce 1 liter:

Macerate 2.5 kilograms of dried wormwood, 5 kilograms of anise and 5 kilograms of fennel in 95 liters of 85 percent ethanol by volume. Let the mixture steep for at least 12 hours in the pot of a double boiler. Add 45 liters of water and apply heat; collect 95 liters of distillate. To 40 liters of the distillate, add 1 kilogram of Roman wormwood, 1 kilogram of hyssop and 500 grams of lemon balm, all of which have been dried and finely divided. Extract at a moderate temperature, then siphon off the liquor, filter, and reunite it with the remaining 55 liters of distillate. Dilute with water to produce approximately 100 liters of absinthe with a final alcohol concentration of 74 percent by volume (4).

It looks like I probably erred in the final dilution, plus I didn't know about feints and foreshots (discarding the beginning and end of a distillation). Stupid high school inexperience.
posted by TungstenChef at 1:23 AM on May 13, 2004

remember : drugs dont put stupid in people's head -- the stupid is already there.
posted by Satapher at 5:10 PM on May 14, 2004

2C-T-7's Bad Trip
posted by homunculus at 10:15 AM on May 16, 2004

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