Warning about Drugs in General If you are having a negative or frightening experience with drugs the first thing to remember is that THIS IS ONLY THE DRUG, and it will wear off. Paranoia, hallucinations, and extreme mood swings do not mean that you are crazy— they mean that you need to stop using substances and recover. Prolonged use of any addictive drug is a bad idea. Also, if you attempt to stave off withdrawal by taking larger and larger amounts of a drug, you will only end up coming down harder and experiencing more negative effects.

Driving and Other Bad Ideas Driving is hard enough without intoxication. For your own sake and everyone else’s, DO NOT attempt to drive under the influence of any of the drugs discussed below. If you’re messed up enough to feel it, you’re not going to be able to drive well. Likewise, doing any other physically risky activity while intoxicated increases your risk of injury.

Many drugs lower inhibitions or change perceptions in various ways. Having sex with someone who is too intoxicated to meaningfully consent is a form of rape. Even below that extreme, having sex while you are drunk or high can lead to socially embarrassing situations later if you decide that you regret the act.

Always Separate the Drugs Some drugs create a synergy when combined, where the total effect is greater than the sum of both drugs taken alone. For this reason, alcohol is very dangerous to combine with tranquilizers, painkillers, other depressants, speed, and aspirin. The psychological effects of drugs are also often amplified by other drugs, even if they do not directly interact, so you may find yourself having a much more intense or overwhelming experience than you are used to. For your safety, if you are going to mix drugs, look up the combination to make sure they cannot interact negatively (as such interactions can be deadly) and stay around friends who can help you if the experience becomes negative.

Don't cave to peer pressure. If you really don't want to do something for any reason don't allow your friends to convince you otherwise. You should only do things you feel comfortable with. Also, if you are not comfortable with the people you are using with, don't use. This is a way you can get yourself into situations you might later regret or that can cause you harm.

Alcohol In small amounts, alcohol lowers inhibitions and induces a feeling of relaxation. This lowering of inhibitions sometimes leads people to do or say things they regret. This is why you should not hook up with someone who is drunk: they are not necessarily capable of making a good decision, and may regret it later. It is not only wrong, but illegal (and against school policy.) Alcohol dehydrates you. Try to drink twice as much water as alcohol. Hangovers are the body’s reaction to the alcohol withdrawal; don’t try to treat a hangover by drinking more. Hangovers also are related to any dehydration you may have experienced when drinking the night before, the more dehydrated you allow yourself to become, the worse your hangover will be. Another good thing for hangovers is Vitamin-C (there is a vitamin water in the bookstore that is chock full of C, I believe it is called "C-Defense" or just "Defense", it's red in color.) Tylenol/Ibuprofen/Aleve/Aspirin may be helpful as well. Drinking alcohol, even a small amount, on an empty stomach can cause nausea and vomiting, so drink with food. This will also help prevent hangovers. Recommended are foods with lots of carbs (pizza, pasta, breads, etc.) because these help absorb the alcohol better in your stomach.

Alcohol, like most drugs, is essentially a poison: a little bit of a poison can give you a pleasurable buzz (even, say, arsenic) but too much and the posion begins to take effect. This happens with alcohol like it might with another poison: you begin to feel sick to your stomach, you might throw up, or you might fall unconscious. These are all forms of alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning can be deadly. If someone passes out from too much alcohol, make sure they’re lying on their side so they don’t choke on their own vomit. If they aren’t breathing or start to turn blue, call an ambulance immediately. To avoid being this person, take it slow. Each drink will take half an hour to hit you completely. Drinking a lot, all at once, will catch up with you. Alcohol damages your brain and liver, so be careful to moderate how much and often you’re drinking.

Keep in mind that alcohol is addictive. If you find that you have a hard time focusing if you haven’t had a drink, it may be wise to stop for a while. This psychological addiction can quickly turn into a physical addiction.

Caffeine Caffeine is legal and generally accepted as safe. Nonetheless, it is still an addictive and psychoactive drug. Caffeine is a stimulant, present in varying amounts in coffee, tea, guarana, maté, most cola drinks, energy drinks, and caffeine pills (Vivarin.) Many people use caffeine because they feel it helps them wake up in the morning, or helps them stay awake late at night to study. Caffeine is addictive, in that it causes withdrawal symptoms when you quit using it; caffeine withdrawal is notorious for causing headaches and irritability.

Unlike most of the other drugs listed here (except alcohol), caffeine usually comes with calories. In large amounts, sugary caffeinated drinks such as cola and energy drinks can put strain on your kidneys, increasing the risk of diabetes or "metabolic syndrome". Caffeine is also a diuretic (it makes you pee more). Large amounts of caffeine may also cause other reactions such as tachycardia (increased heart rate) or jitters.

Marijuana In the 10,000 years that people have been smoking marijuana, no one has ever died from it. However, there are still a few risks you should be aware of. Some people find that pot makes them anxious or paranoid and can trigger anxiety attacks in those prone to them. Smoking anything can trigger existing asthma. People tend to get sleepy and unmotivated when they’re high, so this may not be a great drug for getting homework done. Out of respect for your teachers, don’t go to class stoned. Most can tell, and they don't appreciate it.

Study Drugs (“Speed”) - adderall, dexedrine, ritalin, concerta People eat or snort these to stay up late, study, or just make things go extra fast. They can be addictive, and if you get into the habit of using speed daily, you may find yourself unable to function without it. Some people become anxious or paranoid when they take speed, especially in large or repeated doses. Drink a lot of water and eat meals even if you don’t feel hungry.

Some people stay up for days on speed. After 24 hours or more, you may notice auditory hallucinations, movement in the corner of your eye, confusion, and general “spaceyness”. The work you stayed up to do may become difficult or impossible. You may look up after writing half a page and find that two hours have gone by. This means you need sleep, not more speed. The brain does a poor job of making new memories while sleep deprived, so studying on little or no sleep will probably not lead to effective recall.

Psychedelics (Acid, Mushrooms, Mescaline, Salvia, Etc.) These drugs are sometimes called "hallucinogens", especially by government-funded drug education. However, their affects go well beyond causing hallucinations (illusions); they alter your senses and thoughts in sometimes radical ways. They are also all very different from one another in their effects. There's a large amount of useful research on them available from various sources such as Erowid (see below).

Most psychedelics do not have substantial physical ("body") effects, but they can have some. LSD at low doses acts as a stimulant, and many people find it difficult to sleep while under the lingering effects of any psychedelic. The mental effects of any of the psychedelics tend to last much longer than the "high" or vivid experience does; these drugs may have long-term effects on your mood or way of thinking. Some psychiatrists (most famously Dr. Timothy Leary) have investigated psychedelics as a means of helping patients change their behaviors or thought patterns -- such as teaching habitual violent criminals to reform. This should give you an impression of the depth to which psychedelics can affect you.

"Bad trips" are an uncommon but well-known effect of psychedelics. These can include temporary unpleasant sensory effects, mood effects such as feelings of doom or loss, or a fear that you will never come down or that you are going crazy. Bad trips are always temporary; they cannot last longer than a few hours, since the drug will wear off. Nonetheless, they can be quite terrifying. If using psychedelics it is a good idea to be with a friend who is not high (a trip sitter) and to be in a safe place. Erowid has a “psychedelic crisis FAQ” which you should read before you take on the responsibility of tripsitting.

Hallucinogens can trigger psychotic episodes in people predisposed to psychosis, so you should probably not trip if you have ever been diagnosed as psychotic or suffered hallucinations or other symptoms.

It is not usually a good idea to wander around a busy campus, or go to class, while tripping. However, it is important to note that people generally do not know that you are tripping unless you tell them so. (You may be acting strangely, but they may just think you're goofing around.)

One frequent effect of psychedelics, especially LSD, is the belief that one has received enlightenment or a special message or understanding of the world. Such experiences can be very positive and important to the tripper (just as bad trips can be negative). However, they are usually difficult to explain to non-trippers and may come across as a combination of the trivially true ("The tree is made of cells") and the nonsensical ("The cells are singing").

Herbal psychedelics Salvia divinorum is a very intense, short-acting (5-15 minutes) hallucinogenic plant which can be smoked or eaten. It is related to the common herb, sage, and is used as a shamanic drug by some Native American traditions. Experiences can range from magical to nightmarish. People often lose control of their bodies after smoking salvia, and it is easy to get injured if you’re not sitting down or by yourself.

Wild mushrooms deserve special note. It is a very bad idea to eat mushrooms that you have found in the fields near campus or in the woods unless you have consulted with an expert on the subject who has advised you that they are safe. Many mushrooms are highly poisonous and will kill you as soon as look at you. Do not fuck around with wild mushrooms.

Cough Syrup/DXM Some people take large doses of cough remedies in order to get the psychoactive effects of the drug dextromethorphan (DXM). DXM is not a psychedelic like LSD or shrooms; it is a dissociative anesthetic, the same general category as ketamine (K) and phencyclidine (PCP).

Taking large amounts of cough medicine can be dangerous because many cough remedies contain other active ingredients. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) in cough medicine can cause liver failure in overdose; guaifenesin (cough suppressant) can cause severe vomiting. The results of consuming overdoses of other active ingredients could range from constipation to death.

Most people throw up when they drink cough syrup or swallow a bottle of cough gels. The external effects of the drug will last for at least 6-8 hours (just like the therapeutic effects of a single dose) and may include dizziness and staggering, slurred speech, confusion, dilated pupils, and a creepy wide-eyed stare. You may feel numb and detached from your body and identity. Itching is also common.

Opiates - opium, painkillers (percocet, vicodin), heroin Opiates are among the oldest drugs that humans use, along with alcohol and marijuana. They are narcotics, meaning that they numb pain and induce sleep. They are also quite addictive, although not as addictive as nicotine -- it is easier to stop using heroin than to stop using cigarettes. (But cigarettes are legal and cheaper if you roll your own)

When opiates wear off, many people feel anxious, sore, sick, and basically the opposite of how opiates make you feel. It is also possible to overdose on opiates, so know what a dose is, and don’t take more than that.

One of the major risks of opiates comes from the way that many heavy users use them -- by shooting up. Injecting substances into your bloodstream bypasses most of your body's protections from poison or disease, so it is a very effective way to get diseases from dirty needles or contaminated drugs. This is one of the most common ways to transmit AIDS.

Cocaine This is one of the most addictive substances known to humans. It is so addictive that you may want more as soon as you are done doing your first line. For this reason, cocaine is very dangerous, but if you do use cocaine, make rules for yourself about when and how much you can do, and know that you are probably addicted if you can’t stick to them. Cocaine use is very stressful on your heart, and acute overdose can lead to heart failure. If anyone passes out after doing a large amount of coke, call an ambulance.

Cocaine is derived from the coca plant which has many traditional uses in South America. However, refined cocaine is a modern invention and crack cocaine is a very recent invention; neither one has any traditional uses, and cocaine HCl is only rarely used as a topical anaesthetic.

Ecstasy (MDMA) Ecstasy is notoriously impure, so always be cautious when taking this drug, as you never know exactly what you’re getting. On ecstasy, you will probably feel euphoric. It is important to drink a lot of water, as the drug can raise your body temperature, causing you to become dehydrated. However, since your sense of thirst is stifled, over-drinking when in fear of dehydration can induce vomiting. Coming down from ecstasy, many people experience feelings of depression and negativity, which can last for several days. Some people “crash” from the drug, and feel sick and drained the next day.

Links For more information on any recreational substance, visit Erowid is a collectively written compendium of information on effects, dose, counterindications, and hundreds of reports of users’ experiences with a wide variety of substances. You may find after reading into it that you’re about to do something you’re not prepared for, so it’s always best to educate yourself before learning the hard way.

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