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A very personal guide to pharmaceuticals

A very personal guide to pharmaceuticals

By: Paris McGhee

I’ll be straight with you. Drugs are great. Illegal drugs, legal drugs, modern designer drugs and pharmaceuticals, they’re all great. That’s not to say they’re not dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Or even when you do. Obviously drugs are not for everyone. I feel this way because I find it fascinating to alter and/or enhance my perception of the world. There are infinite incredible experiences to be had. Drop LSD on your favourite beach and see diamonds in the sky. Get loose and dance all night to your favourite tunes on MDMA and ketamine. Smoke a joint and chill out. Meet aliens on DMT. Deal with the mother of all hangovers with a Valium and an amaretto coffee. End an elegant dinner party with a rambunctious round of cocaine charades. To sum up, I love drugs. But that doesn’t mean you will. Nor does it mean you should.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely that of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the stance of Disorder on drug use and participation.



Gets called: Booze, hooch, sauce & suds

Good old alcohol, you’ve been around since before Jesus and I do love you. And yet, you’re the worst. Because it’s normalised and readily available, booze is treacherous and highly addictive. I rarely become out of hand on drugs, but a night of “aggressive drinking” leads to blackout and a wealth of mortifying stories about behaviour I’m glad I don’t remember. On the plus side, the body’s neural biochemistry recovers more quickly after alcohol than after most illegal drugs.

Note: Moderate alcohol use may offer some health benefits and the proposal for a fun night out, but it is not risk free. Please drink responsibly.



Gets called: Blow, snow, coke & candy

Cocaine is not great. Expensive. Bad quality. Lasts about 20 minutes. And buying it supports cartels that rape, murder, torture, kidnap and extort. Cocaine is ideal when you’re feeling sluggish and need to get your ass in gear for a night out, or when you’ve been partying all night and realise you no longer have time to sleep but have to cook a 12-course meal for friends and family.

Note: Cocaine use comes with a smorgasbord of health risks, including, but not limited to, risk of heart attacks, increased blood pressure, loss of smell, strokes, seizures, and the concaving of one’s nose.  



Gets called: Molly, X, Mandy & skittles

MDMA, aka ecstasy, is the drug for dancing and cuddling. It makes you euphorically happy and full of energy via a huge surge of serotonin in the brain, when nothing will stop you dancing on a table. Only problem, the minute I’ve finished peaking I want more – too soon the sun comes up and MDMA stops working, because I’ve literally run out of serotonin. Now I’m facing a highly unpleasant two or three day hangover. And the brain needs six weeks to return to regular biochemistry; frequent MDMA use equals extreme bouts of depression.

Note: Due to the damage caused by ecstasy on neurotransmitters in the brain, serious long-term effects such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and memory loss are likely to occur alongside consistent use.



Gets called: Speed, uppers, benz & pep pills

Amphetamines are much better in pharmaceutical form than from a street dealer. Pharmaceutical speed such as Adderall, Dexedrine, Concierta and Vynase (in order of preference) are prescribed to people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But if you don’t have ADHD you’re basically Bradley Cooper in Limitless. You achieve six months of work and random household tasks in an afternoon. Anything from academic research or essay writing to repetitive household cleaning becomes the most pleasurable things in the world. Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed drug of this class in the UK, which is unfortunate because it’s trash.

Note: While amphetamines offer potentially rewarding short-term effects, like the feeling of euphoria or hallucinations, it can have devestating long-term effects on your health, including extreme mood changes, malnutrition, and psychosis.



Gets called: Special K, kit kat, jet & cat killer

Ketamine is a dissociative drug and fucking awesome. America has just discovered it, and it took 2017’s Burning Man festival by storm. Probably the safest drug you can snort: a Class C drug lower on the scale than cannabis, mixes well with most other drugs, a vital component of modern general anaesthetic and, most importantly, bends your freaking mind. Don’t treat it like cocaine. Do bumps, not lines: it’s far easier to manage the high and the risk of a “k hole” [loss of all control] is reduced. Tolerance to Ketamine builds fast, however – the body stops being able to break it down and it crystallizes in your bladder. Ouch. Until then you piss it away in urine.

Note: Though alone ketamine is said by some to be “safe”, the street variety is often mixed with other drugs, resulting in a concoction that can produce intense and disruptive hallucinations, out of body experiences, elevated blood pressure, and increased heart rate. The cutting of other drugs also improves the likelihood of an overdose.



Gets called: Beans, chief, buttons & cactus

Mescaline is my favourite hallucinogen and my favourite drug. The active ingredient in the Peyote cactus, it’s similar to LSD but a cleaner, more natural high. I recently had a beautiful 30-hour mescaline trip at a music festival. I saw in 4D, could taste the music, met my spirit animal and watched the trees dance around me. Magical. Not for everyone. Tripping that hard asks a lot of your brain. The cognitive strain can be exhausting. A hard reboot for your head.

Note: The intensity of experience that mescaline has on the brain doesn’t come sans side effects; common results are vomiting, anxiety and extreme, dissociative hallucinations.


7. DMT

Gets called: Dimitri, fantasia

Seeing aliens or having encounters with strange entities is a common experience on DMT. There is a neurochemical explanation for this that is more plausible than, “this drug allows me to see into another dimension”. But there is no denying a spiritual component to the DMT experience. It breaks you down to base levels and reawakens you. Found naturally in the Ayahuasca plant, DMT in its chemical form is smoked, onset is instant, lasts 15-20 minutes.

Note: Like most hallucinogenic drugs, the long-term side effects that DMT has on its user can be extreme. Some of the results are disordered, drastic mood changes, persistent paranoia, and chronic hallucinations and or visual disturbances.


8. DOM

Gets called: STP, nexxus, bees & venus

Dom and 2C-B are modern designer drugs, both marvels of modern chemistry! Dom is a hallucinogen with a chemical structure similar to LSD; it lasts up to ten hours and keeps you in a state similar to the early “laughies” stage of an LSD trip. Not trippy, just giggly. 2C-B is essentially a trippy ecstasy pill, the best of MDMA with a hallucinogenic feel.

Note: Like LSD, the effects of 2C-B and Dom are usually psychological. Users experience hypersensitivity, hallucinations, and the feeling of loss of control. Panic attacks, psychosis, overstimulation of the heart and delirious states have also been reported.



Gets called: Ludes, quacks, mandies & soaps

Christmas came early last year when I got my hands on Quaaludes. In the 1970s they were known as “disco biscuits”, the original ecstasy. Perfect for dancing and spangled nonsense, they are even more fun than they seem in The Wolf of Wall Street. At a music festival this past summer I destroyed myself with an excessive amount of ketamine, Quaaludes and about ten pints of cider. I had a great time but lost my bones and had to crawl for a while. If you plan to party with ‘ludes take it slow and make sure you’re in a place with even terrain. A sloped forest is far from ideal.

Note: Quaaludes definitely aren’t for the light of heart. Common side effects include dizziness, vomiting, fatigue, and a tingling sensation in the arms and legs. The possibility of an overdose increases highly when mixed with alcohol or other drugs.


For friendly, confidential drug advice head to: www.talktofrank.com

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Paris McGhee is a writer based in London.