Tripping Down the Erowid Rabbithole

The Wikipedia of drugs is eye-opening and hopelessly addictive.

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Erowid has been around since 1995 and has mostly lingered on the outskirts of society for those 20 years. Until now, that is. The subject of a recent New Yorker feature, the drug database is having something of a coming-out moment. Longtime users might sigh and scoff at the idea of suits, narcs, and Average Joes logging onto the site, but they all should. Why? Erowid is hilarious, informative, and a bit naughty to the touch. Fair warning, though: Be prepared to go down the proverbial rabbit hole, hours gone and minds blown.

2C-T-4 et al.

If you’ve been on a college campus, have attended a concert, or even tangentially paid notice to the news, you’re all: “What drug did they just say? I’ve never heard of that.” Erowid is chock full of drugs of drugs way too hip for you, cop! MDE, 2C-T-4, alpha-PVP: What is any of this shit? Those sound more like Star Wars droids than psychoactive substances. Whoosh. There are a lot of drugs. (Including Bufa toads.)

Surprise, surprise

Erowid constantly reminds you that — oh, yeah — a lot of substances in our daily lives are, in fact, drugs. Take the whole pharmaceuticals vertical. Or coffee, chocolate, and alcohol. Turns out humans love feeling like not themselves.

What a trip

By far, my favorite part of Erowid can be found under “Experiences.” If you click on, say, ether, you can scroll down to reveal a host of user-submitted drug tales. Here is a snippet of Lee on ether:

“This experience was amazing. At first I felt as though I was falling into my bed, but this gradually changed into a feeling of falling into myself. I saw reality, in the form of my field of vision, start to spiral off into the distance. I was scared at this, and successfully regained my real field of vision, briefly. Soon, I saw everything spiraling off again, and this time I was powerless to stop it. I was there in blackness for awhile, and remember wondering if I would ever go back to my room. However, this time, I was not scared at all: I didn’t have a preference in where I stayed. Soon after, I realized that my eyes were closed and opened them. Everything was very grainy for the next few minutes as I was coming down, and when things were finally starting to come into focus, I let myself fall asleep.”

Erowid IRL

We can’t stop there, can we? (One of the founders of Erowid, Fire, assured me that posted snapshots of “Experiences” was cool as long as I linked back to the original piece and cited the author.) Here’s LucidStudies on mescaline:

“A blood pressure cuff goes on my arm. Heart is racing faster than ever before. Cannot perceive time to know how fast the ‘beep-beep-beep’ is beeping. But it could outrun any cheetah in the jungle. The cycle ends. The cuff reads 180. One Hundred And Eighty Beats. Per. Minute. Blood Pressure is ONE EIGHTY. Eyes peeled open wide in terror. Angry. Stunned disbelief. Primitive fear. The realization a heart attack could spontaneously occur at any moment. And then the fear of death became the essence of death itself. And the essence of death became real. And then I was dead. No longer in control. Actually believing, BELIEVING that I really was dead. Not almost dead, not thinking about death or wondering if I might be dead. Dead. Real death. And it all. Seems. So. Real.”

One more for good measure and, this time, a drug I hadn’t heard of before: 6-APB, a.k.a. Benzo Fury (which is an amazing moniker). Take it away, entheogeneration and “Warming Sensation Emanating from my Core”:

“10:35 — Tried smelling vicks, took a big deep breath and it filled my body with amazing feelings, mouth is minorly dry. Eyes begin to bounce and shiver, very MDMA like. Palms more sweaty/clammy.
“10:45 — Feeling very warm and happy, cannot resist smiling.
“10:50 — Feeling very loose now. Noticing more visuals as I stare at the horizon, I see many multicoloured circles within circles. Outlines of clouds very intense.
“11:05 — My buddy gave me a light show and got lost in the lights for a bit. Music/Auditory appreciation increased. A bit more jaw tension.
“11:10 — Ate some skittles, explosion of flavour in my mouth, sent shivers down my spine.”

Hell yeah, dogg: Skittles for life. (If you want to hear of an ayahuasca experience, just head here.)

What are you gonna do with that, dude?

I could spend days reading these entries, so I asked Fire — she runs the non-profit site with her partner, Earth, in northeastern California — if she thought people spend more time on Erowid than other sites. “Unfortunately, ‘dwell time’ is a pretty complicated thing to deduce or calculate,” she wrote me in a email. “So many people open a window (or a dozen windows) to different pages and then aren’t actively reading most of them. So it’s hard to tell, from our end, how much time visitors spend with their eyes actually on our pages. There’s a lot of attempts to do this sort of thing, but we try not to over represent that kind of data since it’s likely meaningless.” I’m not buying it. Once you open Erowid, good luck getting out.

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