We live in an age where the kind of esoteric drug culture which used to be confined to tight-knit and small groups is now somewhat omnipotent to those who are interested in it.
While drugs like LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, and cannabis have always been referenced in popular culture, widespread internet access means that we can now easily unearth information on some of the most obscure mind-altering chemicals in existence.
Here’s 10 crazy drugs you’ve probably never heard of. WARNING: Don’t try these at home, kids.
Let’s get started by talking about the holy grail of all god-awful — and often life-changing — drug experiences, Datura.
Datura is a flower which grows natively across the Americas and North Africa.
Its principal active ingredient, Scopolamine, is a delirient which causes users to experience strange hallucinations; their behaviour will often include stripping off their clothes, smoking imaginary cigarettes, speaking indecipherable languages, and becoming completely obedient to others regardless of what they’re being asked to do.
The difference between an effective and fatal dose of Datura is often particularly narrow, with the same dose of seeds often having completely different effects on users.
Many who have experimented with the plant report trips which last for days or weeks, irreversible damage to their sight caused by dehydration, and impromptu visits to either the hospital or local jail (often with no recollection of how they got there).
2 Deadly Nightshade
Deadly Nightshade (botanical name, Atropa Belladonna) bears many similarities to Datura. In fact, it also contains the chemical Scopolamine.
The plant has historically been used both as a tool for sabotage (including, but not limited to, use in poison-tipped arrows) as well as a cosmetic beauty product (the herb was used in eye-drops to dilate pupils and make the women using it “more seductive”).
Again, it’s pretty easy to accidentally kill yourself when using Deadly Nightshade, and most users who experiment with it as a recreational drug report it to be not only extremely unpleasant, but also something they would never want to experience again in their lives.
Zolpidem, often sold under one of its many brand names is a sedative drug used to help remedy insomnia.
Even though you may have heard of it, you probably didn’t know that many users with prescriptions for it stop taking it after just a few nights; this is because even a single dose can cause bizarre and vivid hallucinations.
One particularly interesting report about zolpidem on the popular drug-experience website, Erowid.org, talks about mysterious hooded and robed figures visiting the user in his bedroom at night while under its influence: “Large and extreamly dark and ominous humanoid creatures have filled my room. It is CROWDED in here now”.
Sounds pretty scary!
Also known by its street names M-Cat and Meow-Meow, 4-methyl methcathinone is a so-called “Designer Drug” which causes effects similar to those found in ecstasy and cocaine (which the drug can also be considered an analogue of).
These range from euphoria to enhanced appreciation for music, and side effects run the gamut from dilated pupils to difficulty breathing and death.
Interestingly, Mephedrone could be purchased legally in the UK as recently as 2010, but was later made illegal.
It was initially reported that the drug was responsible for several deaths in both young and middle-aged users, but many of these claims were later refuted by both the scientific community and individual coroner reports.
Salvia, much like Datura and Deadly Nightshade, has several delirient properties. However, users who smoke the plant tend to return to reality in 5 to 10 minutes, with any lingering effects passing by the next day.
Usually, it’s smoked in a bong, with the experience beginning as soon as the smoke from it is inhaled.
The reported hallucinations that follow tend to vary wildly, ranging from vaguely coherent fantastical scenes to abstract ideas.
In fact, several people who have experimented with salvia have claimed to experience a kind of metamorphosis, wherein their physical body was merging with inanimate objects.
Despite the complete lack of enjoyment or real recreational value that salvia presents, it is still used regularly by truth-seekers the world over.
Often, this is just for giggles, but more serious users incorporate it for spiritual and insightful purposes. There are videos of people jumping out windows after using salvia, so if taken it’s best to have someone else sober there too.
6 Butane Hash Oil
Butane Hash Oil, or BHO as it is commonly known, is arguably the purest form of cannabis one can consume.
Essentially, it’s an extract of the plant which maintains a purity of between 80 per cent and 90 per cent (that’s eighty or ninety percent THC, the chemical that gets you high when you smoke weed).
Inhaling the smoke from raw cannabis plant material tends to produce a purity of no more than 20 per cent.
So, why is this form of the plant particularly notable? Well, to produce BHO, you first have to force pure butane through a glass container storing the cannabis material.
The downside of this is that many would-be amateur scientists often end up destroying their houses due to unexpected explosions, sometimes injuring themselves and sometimes killing themselves.
However, it’s said that inhaling the smoke from BHO can produce effects similar to those you experience the first time you ever got high.
For those of you who never have, that basically means that it’s going to be an eye-opening experience and you’re not going to be doing much that day.
Mescaline is a particularly strange drug, in that it can be found naturally (in the peyote cactus) but can also be synthesised in a lab environment.
Much like psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline produces hallucinations and an overall experience which is enjoyed by many users.
However, it presents several distinct experiences when compared with those other chemicals — these include the user often seeing checker-board and fractal patterns.
Likewise, many people who take mescaline report synaesthesic effects, including seeing sounds and tasting colours.
Mescaline has been used by Native American tribes for close to 6,000 years.
When John W Huffman first synthesised JWH-018 at Clemson University in 1984, he probably didn’t realise that he was going to have a fairly large impact on drug culture.
The chemical went on to become one of the principal ingredients in so-called “spice blends” such as K2.
In fact, there are around 400 chemicals in the JWH family in all, all of which produced slightly varying effects on the CB1 and CB2 receptors (the channels in your brain which usually respond to cannabis).
While some of these effects resemble consumption of the traditional cannabis plant, though, the chemicals often produce volatile and unpredictable effects in users, with Huffman himself saying that “It bothers [him] that people are so stupid as to use this stuff”.
Warning: Use of synthetic cannabinoids is notoriously unsafe, and can lead to seizure, physical dependency, and death. Don’t do it, kids.
Diphenhydramine — or DPH, as it is more commonly known — is a chemcal delirient found in Benadryl.
Many drug users experiment with the chemical with undesirable effects, most notably including confusion, delusions, and paranoia.
A quick scan of DPH reports online seldom reveals tales of experiences which are anything less than terrifying.
Most involve seeing people who aren’t there, constantly thinking you’re in a different place (sometimes as often as every 60 seconds), not being able to tell whether you’re awake or asleep, and having negative thoughts about one’s life and friends/family members.
What if I told you that there was a drug out there which not only produced effects similar to heroin when consumed, but also caused users to rapidly develop unexpected cases of Parkinson’s Disease when prepared incorrectly?
Well, hopefully, that prospect scares the bejeezus out of you. The chemical I’m talking about here is 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine.. also known as MPTP.
It’s the unwanted product produced when the synthetic opioid MPPP is incorrectly prepared, and there are several reports of users taking the drug only to develop rapid cases of dementia at young ages, followed fairly quickly by death.
While it is a tragic story, incidents of MPTP being consumed are actually very rare. It unfortunately usually affects drug addicts who believe it to be heroin, or users who incorrectly attempt to synthesise MPPP themselves; but most reports available online of the drug being used are dated prior to 1980.