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Uncorked & Unscrewed

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The Perils & Pleasures Of The Purple Drank & Why The Sizzurp's In Your Sippy Cup

"Naturally, we are all caught in downmoods, it's a matter
of chemical imbalance and an existence which, at times,
seems to forbid any real chance at happiness."--Charles Bukowski

My life was changed the day someone sent me a link to Cracked.com's list of "7 Species That Get High More Than We Do" and I saw an embedded video of elephants getting drunk, falling over, fucking each other with abandon and laughing themselves senseless. If you haven't seen an elephant smile it's one of the purest things John Barleycorn ever invented and it stays with you. It stays with me now as I ponder just why all or most species love getting silly fucked up. 

It is not drugs that I'm after here, though - it's certain pharmacological drugs in particular. I'm after the sizzurp. I want to get "slizzard" and sip off that sizzurp that will make me feel so "fly like a G-6," as the Far East Movement have it in their song of the same name. I want the cough syrup. And I'm not the only one. Hip-hoppers and a vast contingent of kids, teens and 20-somethings want it too. Or if they don't, it's only because they have already imbibed that fire and watched the rainbow spread over the surface of their sippy cup. 

Why do they drink it? Because, between 1990 and 2000, the sizzurp flowed ubiquitous, due in no small part to the efforts of Southern hip-hop and fish scale drug dealers who realized they could get their youngest clientele toasted with less overhead than they had had with laxative-laced coke or post-9/11 Afghani heroin. Just swipe some scripts from the Doc for extra-strength cough elixir and mix that shit up with some Sprite and you're flyin' so high.

DJ Screw was the most instrumental figure in this saga.  The Houston rapper who pioneered a sub-genre of rap music called "Corked and Screwed" blazed this trail with the succor of the sizzurp, a libation nicknamed "Lean" that would later be referred to as "the 'zurp" after Three 6 Mafia penned the screwed-and-corked joint "Sippin' on Some Syrup."

Screw, the Texas dee-jay whose slowed-tempo stop-time beats mimicked the brain brake of one's motor skill dysfunction on lean, died from an overdose of the syrup. That's what some will tell you. Of course they'll neglect that he mixed his "drank" with booze. But the fact remains: The sizzurp, like many potent chemicals, is a potentially hazardous thing. 

So why take it? Why risk ending up like DJ Screw or, for that matter, Pimp C, whose sleep apnea was allegedly exacerbated by the respiratory slow (or "throe," as the corked-and-screw lyric would have it) of the sizzurp? In these socially-aware times, every schoolchild is lectured by DARE and television spots on prime time television with squashed little girls showing off how dwarfed a person can become by caving to peer pressure. Then, in an illuminated era where computer-literate kids (see: all or most kids) can research drugs on the Web, why do so many young people—and, more importantly, so many adult entertainment personalities—insist on seeking out these recreational highs rather than getting soused on spirits or stoned out of their face on some red-haired nugs like any normal person? 

To better grapple with this subject and grasp the 'zurp's continual appeal, I submitted to a prescription of Cymbalta, an anti-depressant that, like DXM (an active ingredient in cough syrup) and MDMA (the active ingredient in Ecstasy), is a Serotonin Inhibitor. Cymbalta can seriously fuck you up if you're not expecting it. Unlike most happy pills that reach blood level in a week's time, and seldom sooner, subjects prescribed Cymbalta often report a "high" upon their first dose.

Aside from the fire in the chest, waves of galvanizing nausea, and numbness in the face that make this short-term panacea akin to Percocet or Methadone, the most inundating side effect seems to be a grave sensation of detachment. Perfect! All the better to bring some much-needed objectivity to this delicate subject. After all, the sizzurp is something regarded as a joke by some and a menace by others, so the last thing we need here is my fat ass jumping up and down with the maniac's zeal I would have had for this subject as a teenager, back when my own hypothalamus was hot-wired by unhealthy amounts of the syrup, that hyper-making Hydra-world psychotropic known clinically as Dextromethorphan. Detached is appropriate! Let's get clinical...

But wait. I was wrong. That wasn't sizzurp that I was ingesting in ungodly quantities as an irresponsible teenager. It wasn't the Romilar that Lester Bangs wrote about in his teens in the still-unpublished Drug Punk memoir. He was on a different trip and so, too, are all these rappers and rugrats who down the stuff in big styrofoam cups from here to Decatur. 

I wasn't the only one who was confused. On August 31, 2010, AOL News' Katie Drummond erroneously reported that Dextromethorphan was finding its way into kids' and teens' carbonated beverages and that the "sizzurp" was the same as a "Skittle."

A 2004 report by the University of Texas found that 8.3% of secondary school students in the state had taken codeine cough syrup to get high. Sizzurp-related drug busts throughout the Southern U.S. were likewise reported by The Drug Enforcement Administration. "Kids are getting creative when it comes to getting high," Trendhunter.com said in a piece dedicated to the pharmo-fad. Codeine, you say? What does that have to do with the ‘Zurp?

Lil Wayne wasn't talking about DXM (dextromethorphan) when he said, "It's time to give me mine." The "Purple Drank" is what he was after, a self-prepared beverage consisting of one part Promethazine and Codeine (prescription strength cough syrup, not the OTC of DXM), one part Sprite (or Sprite Zero, if you prefer) and one busted Jolly Rancher candy sunk at the bottom. This is what he meant when he told MTV, "I like my Sprite Easter-pink."

That doesn't sound like a very Gangsta thing to say. But then practices such as these never do. The Whirling Dervishes were the Mawlawi Order, a fanatical group of religious barbarians, who followed Islamic jurist Jalal ad-Din Muhammed Balkhi-Rumi and pirouetted around in flowing white dresses in an effort to "remember God." Of course what they were really doing was spinning around in circles and semi-circles in a graceful form of slam dance until they were so light-headed as to speak in tongues. You can call this reverence, but they were doubtlessly dizzy or, rather, trippin' balls as a result.

Today we don't spin around until we conjure the Lord. Now, we drop bombs and crunk out. And where past cultures chewed on roots and pellets to contact the spirit world or "find the answers," the seeker of Now can pack a water bong or procure professional psychiatric help when looking for guidance.

So why are folks like Lil Wayne taking these bizarre potions for pleasure? Why not smoke a blunt and fill your pimp goblet with Hennessy? And why ingest chemical cocktails with such lethal potential? To answer these questions, the pharmacological concoctions' recipes and the reactions they produce must first  be probed and considered.

Codeine has long been a gateway to heroin use or opiate addiction in general. The chief allure of the synthetic (see: man-made) drug is the state of euphoria and, sometimes, numbness that large doses leave you in. For prescription-strength cough syrups it is often combined with Promethazine, a potent antihistamine sedative that blocks histamine H1 receptors and elicits feelings of lethargy and extreme drowsiness. Promethazine has several powerful side effects, including motor skill impairment, paresthesia and respiratory depression. 

Some users report that the large amount of sugar in "drank" causes them to experience substantial weight gain and tooth decay. For this reason, it is believed that Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi is a Purple Drank Addict. Rumors have it that she drinks seven of lean for breakfast and only attains her party girl enthusiasm after counter-acting the drank with copious amounts of Red Bull and White Castle belly bombs.

A butter face full of cavities is one thing, but respiratory depression is something else entirely. It is one of the leading causes of death from many a narcotic. It is the reason Wacko Jacko went into cardiac arrest. It's the reason a person dry-heaves from snorting dope. Trouble breathing—hardly something you look for in a drug. But then if a drug's prospective adverse side effects were the deciding factor in taking medication, the pharmaceutical industry wouldn't be making a fortune off of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, chemotherapy, etc.

If you're anything like me, you've gotten a fine chuckle out of those sunny day uber-optimist commercial spots for arthritis medicines, happy pills and all the rest, where the "lucky" patient who suffered endlessly is able to take a long walk on a lush beach or ride a bicycle through a briar patch to serene music, only for their lovely trip to end in a very pleasant voice-over informing us that "possible side effects of using [place drug name here] include nausea, stomach cramps, impetigo, dry mouth, brain aneurysms, blood clots and sudden death." Consult your Doctor who makes a commish off this shit so that he may advise as to whether or not you should be administered these wonder drugs that might just leave you clutching your chest, ripping at your scalp, breaking out in blisters and beseeching a merciful God to spare you the anguish.

The odds of these side effects occurring are so rare, that's where the gambler should go to work. Or, as Lil Wayne puts it, "Don't compare me to no one who has passed and why they passed. I can walk out this bitch right now and get hit by a bus."

And, of course, there are the pros to this con. The Purple Drank gives the user an appreciation of colors, for one. The Lean community's got this swill down to an aesthetic science; you take a blend of XR Hydrocodone and Atropine if you want your "yellow syrup," or you stick with Cheratussin AC-brand Codeine and Guaifenesin if you want that Easter-pink. The "rainbow colors" are all represented.

And speaking of ‘Tussin, let's get back to the DXM, since I now feel cheated for having never indulged in the sizzurp I thought I had slurped. Many of these poor little punks probably feel the same way I do, especially the unfortunate ones who have O.D.'d on the shit-thick liquid since it first rose to popularity in the ‘90s.

Dextromethorphan is a psychotropic found in most over-the-counter cough and cold meds. Red Devils or Triple Cs are one variation (Coricidin cough and cold pills) and these are the tiny tidbits for which they coined the term "Skittles." If you're a "Skittlehead" you've likely gone "robotrippin'" on at least one or two occasions. The term "robotripping" refers to the downing of ‘Tussin and, like eating a box of Triple Cs, the experience can be more ghastly than a bad acid trip. The other active ingredients in the bottle can cause projectile vomiting, acute stomach discomfort, and, in a sensitive person (see: allergic) hemorrhaging from the eyes and ass (see: Coricidin cough & cold). The latter is the life-threatening symptom of Chloropheniramine Maleate, one of the ingredients in several mixtures.

DXM is a dissociative drug that has euphoric and psychedelic properties when administered in ill-advised doses. This is why it has been confused with Purple Drank by many a numbskull, myself included. Back in '95 "The Dextromethorphan FAQ" was published and broke the disparate recreational doses into plateaus. The author, William E. White, suggested that there are five plateaus of the drug, each coming with their own set of attractions and atrocities. 

"At a dosage of 1.5 to 2.5 mg," he said, "effects include alertness, restlessness, increased heartbeat, increased body temperature, intensification of emotions, euphoria, loss of balance, and slight intoxication." 

This makes sense. It's why a lot of us started popping the tops of ‘Tussin bottles in the summer of '99, when the news media were reporting on the dangers of Ecstasy. With euphoria and increased body temperature available in an OTC medication "approved by the FDA," why would we want to bother with something given to us by an untrustworthy dealer that would cause us to dehydrate? Little did we know that DXM could produce the same nightmare.

The second plateau comes on at 2.5 to 7.5 mg. and heightens the effects felt in the smaller dose. Here we attain "choppy sensory input, a dreamlike state of consciousness, some detachment from the outside world, and closed-eye hallucinations." Again the allure here is accessibility. As a teenager in the mid-to-late '90s it was a lot easier to walk into a pharmacy and purchase a box of Coricidin than it was to find a reliable connection with blotter acid. 

At 7.5 to 15.0 mg., the third plateau kicks in with the "flanging of visual effects, difficulty recognizing objects, chaotic blindness, dreamlike vision, inability to comprehend language, abstract hallucinations, delayed reaction time, decision-making impairment, feelings of peace and quiet, near-complete loss of motor coordination, short-term memory impairment, and feelings of rebirth."

There's some arcane language in that description that I can't really wrap my mind around, but who wouldn't want to feel peace and quiet and rebirth? It's why I was willing to lose motor coordination, loping to the left as I staggered around town, feeling like Don Quixote battling incredible windmills and taking for myself perceived Dulcineas. It's a rare opportunity to be able to shut the world off and feel like a knight around a very special triangular table.

The fourth plateau emerges when more than of 15 mg. have been imbibed, and is marked by changes in visual perception already inherent in smaller doses, but enhanced so that an out-of-body experience is not uncommon. Perceptions of contact with "superior beings" have been reported and, gee whiz - tell me you haven't watched a season of Alien Nation or The X-Files and prayed to a many-tentacled god that you would have the luxury of finding the Truth that Is Out There! This seems like the allure, at least insomuch as a rapid heartbeat and lack of movement are poo-pooed when one is faced with the prospect of Exaltation. However, this is the plateau with "miscellaneous delusions," so it is hard to rip the facts from the chemical fiction.

The final plateau is one few users have ever reached, for obvious reasons. A person would have to take 2.5-7.5 mg every three hours for nine to twelve hours, prolonging the eventual dosage. It is called plateau sigma, and its corollary is every bit as cryptic and exclusive as its moniker would suggest. Here users have said that "inclinations manifest as auditory hallucinations; rather than simply feeling tired and sitting down, a user might hear a voice saying, 'Sit down now, you're tired,' and feel inclined to obey." When they speak of users "talking to God," this is the plateau that user has reached, and, according to White, more than half of the reports relayed to him were described as "unpleasant."

Take that, Purple Drank! But wait. If the findings of Dr. Tyeese Gaines Reid are of any validity, DXM and the Promethazine-Codeine trip have been taken in much the same way. "Both drugs can be added to soda or juice," Dr. Gaines Reid says in an article published by The Grio. "The resulting mixtures are referred to colloquially as...'purple bar,' or 'purple punch.'" And she goes on to cite ex-Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell's charge of possession for having codeine syrup without a prescription.

The Doctor sees this trend as being prevalent due to role models. "Young children who are...influenced by these music and sports icons are walking a dangerous line that can result in death if they are not careful." And her advice is elementary enough. "Parents should...keep cough medicines in a locked cabinet or a special place in the house inaccessible to younger children."

I can't speak for the common household, but I know that, as an experimental teenager, no padlock or hiding place would keep me away from what I got into and I doubt, for the most part, that it's any different with the children of today. When the Long Island Press ran a long expose, in 2010, on tweens and teens who were getting high by chewing on moth balls, squirting hand sanitizer on their tongues, and keeping Hefty bags full of fermented feces for the purpose of deliberate asphyxiation, it was blisteringly apparent that no lock or key would keep 'em down.

But the question remains: Why is a generation, or generations (as rappers' and sports stars' consumption suggests) taking such absurd risks in an effort to achieve alchemical escapism? What is the motivating factor?

This is something that can only be tangentially theorized on. I can tell you that, in the case of Dextromethorphan abuse, it is the bliss. The interest resides in the fact that you achieve something. What that something is must vary from person to person and has to be dependent upon individual chemical make-up and genetic predisposition, in addition to several other X factors, including psychological stability and state of mind. But obtaining the constitution of a hedonist, the reflexes of a jackrabbit, the appreciation of a mystic, the athletic ease of an Olympian and the orgasms of a slightly bedazzled cane toad is something many a seeker may want to find at the end of their personal rainbow.

Who cares if it gives you the eyes of a cornered raccoon or causes (on the third or fourth Plateau) you to strangle your best friend for awhile because he has turned into a beady-eyed amphibian? And what exactly is so spurious about your turds seeming to vanish into thin air when you rise to flush the toilet bowl? There are benefits too, as not many responsible journalists would tell you. But they also wouldn't bother to mention that the side effects of this swill dissipate substantially when you eliminate the other active and inactive ingredients.

There are options, especially in this modern world, where, it can be argued, such freedom of choice is really the bondage of too many options. There are selections such as Dexalone, a rare but not extinct box of cough suppressants that contain exactly what their brand name would insinuate—Dextromethorphan and nothing else. Just pure DXM. And I have it on good word that the Asians offer a powder form of the substance with no additives that can be bought on the World Wide Web, provided you skim through page after page of search engine results until you come upon the proper website.

I return you, for a moment, to that first plateau, where advanced alertness happens. It's the schizoid focus of a cardsharp, to put it more correctly, and it can culminate in some odd behavior, for sure. One muggy night, at the advent of the New Millennium, I downed a bottle-and-a half of Delsym (a 12-hour time-release cough elixir) and slithered my way into an outreach center in Bohemia. The place was more a youth group than a drug awareness facility and the cut-off age was twenty-five. Thus nobody seemed to notice the stubbly prick in the purple Kango hat who was drenched in perspiration, his irises eclipsed by the moons of his saucer-like pupils. That evening I solved a Rubik's Cube in five minutes flat and sunk every solid on the pool table—and even several stripes—three consecutive times. I had no previous experience with Rubik's Cubes and I hadn't been to a pool hall in four years. Neither boggling feat has ever been repeated again and, certainly, not without the lucid aid of Dextromethorphan.

On the flip-side, it is important to note that, it was this same nasty nectar that Britney Spears had in her system when the news choppers and police cruisers encircled her manse and she crouched down, wild-eyed, in her master closet with the boys. Spears' musical output of late is concerned, for the most part, with two things: getting high and fucking. And who can argue with the urgency when the Mayans are predicting we have less than a year left before all the world is reduced to starry remains of what once was? Of course Ms. Spears should dance until the world ends. If that means seeing her down on the floor or up in the sky, as her song "Big Fat Bass" has it, then that's just how she'll roll. And plenty of people will join her, for their own recreational reasons or because Brit says so.

Alas, the lab rats have about as much luck with the stuff as the "Femme Fatale." Olney's Lesions are a potential form of brain damage resulting from neurotoxicity. The lesions are really cytotoxic changes to the brain. These changes have been found in rats that were dosed with DXM, but no human findings have been forthcoming. For now, we seem safe from autophagy

Still, with all this talk of hemorrhaging rectums and brain lesions, one would think it's a hard pill to swallow—the drug, not the inherent ramifications. But some kids outright refute this. Like Kyle, 22, of Levittown, N.Y., who I met at a warehouse show in the first weeks of March. "It ain't Hellmann's that brings out the best," he insisted. DXM has played a major role in Kyle's life since he was sixteen years old. A teenage runaway who spent most of his years squatting in the vans of local musicians, Kyle got turned on to the drug at a rehearsal space in the mid-‘90s. "I took half a box," he said. "Red devils. Yeah. And I felt like a kamikaze fighter pilot with a heart full of love." 

Kyle has been taking DXM virtually every day of his life for many years now and he seems happy, ebullient, given to sprinting around with gusto and smiling widely at the slightest suggestion of humor. He is "satisfied" he says. And if you don't believe that his spirit is at peace, he tells you to look into his eyes, two cloudy gelatinous balls of near-translucent white meat that look like microwaved marshmallows.

Not everybody is so easily satisfied as Kyle, though. On a message board I find "artaxerxes" who says, "Out here we get red syrup: codeine and promethazine; no other bullshit. I couldn't see it as my only opiate but it's really good as a change from your DOC once in awhile."

DOC is short for Dimethoxy-chloroamphetamine, a psychedelic drug of the phenethylamine family, that was first synthesized by Alexander Shulgin, a cat who was so taken by experimental chemicals that he wrote a long poem honoring their configurations, in Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved. The book is a glossary of sorts that catalogs the innumerable varieties of these amphetamine aberrations.

DOC is known to cause nausea, chest pains and vasoconstriction, but as of 2006, no deaths had been attributed to the drug. 

DXM is another story and one that the press in S.W. Florida got hold of back in 2005 when two nineteen-year old nincompoops in Cape Coral died from a supposed overdose of the swill. They had purchased a powdered form from Chemical A.P.I., a company that was subsequently shut down and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

This and other news reports alleged that the boys had died from dextromethorphan overdose, despite the autopsy report concluding that they were snuffed out "from ingestion of dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine." The same warning/condemnation was issued in a KOMO News piece about five Bellingham, Washington boys who perished from taking the same combo from the very same distributor. And, again, it was reported, in a paradoxical fashion, when komotv wrote, "It was a pure, concentrated form of Dextromethorphan," only to reference the Cape Coral clusterfuck and the fact that they all bought 'em from the same purveyor...hence the overdose of diphenhydramine in Bellingham's bingers' systems as well. 

"BULLSHIT!" said blacksabbathrulz on shroomery.org's message board. "The story says that two of the men received 25 milligrams of the drug...that sure as hell is not an overdose. A maximum strength dose of cough syrup has more DXM than that."

And maugre the many problems you are faced with when taking someone with an Internet handle like "blacksabbathrulz" seriously, there does seem to be much validity to what he said there...in the elliptical nature of the articles anyway. The Cape Coral case happened in February, yet NBC-2 didn't report on the situation until June. A lot can happen in three months, like P.R./media intrusion on the facts, the fallacies of the same, and a butt-load of legal counsel advising on where the winds blow. 

It isn't unreasonable to assume that previous suits filed may have encouraged the grieving to go for whatever jugular they could find without a stethoscope and a magnifying glass. 

Last time the public heard about the sitch, Detective Walker, the sleuth assigned to the C.C. case, said they needed to prove the company's intent, meaning those behind Chemical A.P.I. knew they were selling DXM to people wanting to use the drug to get high.

The whole scene reminds of David Carradine's strangulation scenario. His friends and family members implored the law to investigate further, insisting that he was done in by some top secret faction of the yakuza and had been hunted, for a very long time, by a criminal syndicate, while all official reports pointed to a long-standing kink for fetishistic sex. But how can you hope to put the kibosh on rumors, personal or otherwise, when the pervert circuit prides itself on anonymity and privacy? Surely, these Cape Coral kids no more spelled out that they wanted to get fucked up than Carradine set in stone his intentions to choke off air supply to the brain while choking one out. Online transactions for potent chemicals, like luxury-level auto-erotic asphyxiation, are a discreet adventure.

"The worst part is that opponents of DXM will plaster this story up to further their misinformation, as if it means anything for responsible DXM users," said Lloyd on shroomery.org. "Did they buy 'pure' DXM which was laced with something else? That flat out implies the death resulted from a mixture of substances, not DXM alone."

"There are many questions which remain unanswered," a person whose handle was "Cervantes," ruminated. Indeed there are, but probably we will never hear anything about them, for the very same reason that nobody will ever read Bin Laden's Declaration of War—because it's easier to digest the notorious menace than it is to try and understand something far-reaching, long-lasting and all-too-complex for the reality tv mind.

The same is true of the real sizzurp. People love it. Like a patient who came to Dr. Rani Whitfield, in 2008, a smile seared on his grill like a car decal. "It taste great, Doc!" he exclaimed. "I don't even drink on that Henn no more. You should try it!"

It ain't often that a patient writes a script for a doctor, but that was what this nameless, faceless sizzurp-sucker was trying to do on this occasion. "Taste better than any margarita I've ever had," he said. "Just give me a cream soda or some fruit punch, mix it with that purple, and it's on!"

Whitfield says the patient wanted a prescription for a pint of "lean," but it's all too obvious that the "dope" was already at his disposal. He just wanted to re-up and, most likely, his main man was on vacation or ducking incessant voicemails, urging him to show up for a nice, strong suction-cup BJ in exchange for whatever syrup he might have in his possession. The street value for a pint was valued, at the time, at $500, so the price may have also been a factor. Medicaid would, in all likelihood, have covered the majority of that Promethazine script with no problem, thus saving Mr. Margarita a fortune in demand inflation. But Whitfield didn't take the bait.

Many did, though, falling for the "n-n-n-n-now" of getting the bottles poppin' and getting slizzard. In a 2007 National Institute of Drug Abuse study, 6.9 million folks in the U.S. had copped to using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in the month prior to being surveyed...and those numbers had to have grown as we were plunged deeper into an economic coma. It's fundamental mathematics: alcohol sales, for instance, rise by more than fifty percent during the dreary holiday season; depression equals escapism.

"Shit," Captain Rosinski, a seafarer with some experience in this area, hollered. "If that's the kind of escape yer afta, I could just as easily plant one between your cornea."

Rosinski is a former-longshoreman and long-time "shaman" who has gone toe-to-toe with drug law agents and junkies alike, and he tells me he has seen what these terrible "Skittles" can do to the "cunts who slurp 'em like pearls from an oyster."

"Well, for one," he broke it down, "they have no sense. They'll get a little jazzy like Jazzy Jeff or Tigger, ya know, from the kiddie program, and the next thing you know they start wolfing back forties of O.E. And that's when they hit the ground, mid-sentence, and just fall still."

Rosinski has seen young "party boaters" snag their lines and laugh giddily. "It's the damndest thing," he says. "They're fuckin' up the whole sport, but they say it's the most heavenly thing they've ever done with their fingers...then they start to touch each other.

"They fondle everything, man, one of 'em even tried to eat one of my flares. Singed off a hunk of his cheek!"

The worst aspect of the drug epoch, according to Captain Ernesto, is the comedown. "One minute they're all excited about going way out to sea, to look for the schools of flounder, and the next they're breaking their noses when they fall flat on their faces and, many times, just...they...they don't get up. They say don't litter, but what in God's hell am I supposed to do with their bodies? Report it? Their parents would blame me! I'm a registered sex offender, for God's Sake, and he was almost nineteen!"

The ugliest thing the seaman ever saw was a boy in the clutches of Coricidin, pouring blood from his eye sockets and begging for more cough and cold. "It was worse than any heroin use I ever seen," Rosinski insisted. "He was balls deep into his dark passenger, as my hero Dexter would say. There was a moment when I thought I would drown or be drowned or have to cut this poor kid up by holding his head under water and running the engine in reverse."

Then the kid straightened himself out, abruptly emerging from the purple purity to hone in on the static loveliness of a lighthouse in the distance. "He found all sorts of wonder in that thing, man. The bull he was blubbering after that was like a first-person account of a conversation with God with a capital G."

What's scarier about these substances than their myriad adverse manifestations is the dubious intellect of the average user. On countless message boards I encountered responses regarding the drug that ranged from ornery and stubborn to inane and irrational. The one that stands out in my mind the most is  from jykkE, who said, "I've only had it once," referencing Lean, "...Not a fan really...Don't really see the point when heroin is so much funner."

There is the constant: that people will continue to play a game with Thanatos, regardless of how gristly the consequences could be, because you "pick your poison," you do not pick your "innocuous glass of nutritional libation." And once you've tasted something that turns you on and short-circuits the stressors, especially in a time when terrorism and depression vie for the same attention as natural disaster and public scandal, there's seldom a desire to change direction. How can you argue with the sensation of being reborn, even if that rebirth may lead to death?

Lest we forget that rock journalist Lester Bangs went to his grave with a bottle of Romilar in his breast pocket.

However...aside from euphoria and a sense of invincibility, there are not many things to recommend this chemical coma-in-waiting. Long term effects of sizzurp include the demolition or dissipation of one's sex drive and "increased complications in erectile dysfunction." Central hypogonadism is the term and it's a P.C. euphemism for having perpetual whiskey dick. Of course, this is an affliction that doesn't usually occur in sizzurp enthusiasts (and narcotic analgesic users, in general) for years or even decades of abuse...but why gamble with one's gonads?

Alternately, the DXM abuser bottoms out with diaphoresis (sweating) for multiple hours after their comedown and many have mentioned a "peculiar odor." Such could be chocked up to a heightened sense of smell, but regardless of cause the outcome is the same...you stinky fucking Skittlehead!

And that is just elementary, Jr. (JR was a character played by Larry Hagman on TV's Dallas and Hagman had a long and colorful history with chemicals, including LSD). The most substantive dangers of regular recreational use of "Dex" count language deficit, motor skill damage, violent ideation, liver and kidney damage, and cerebral hemorrhage among their crappy collective. Dissociative substances, as a whole, tend to produce these impairments in users during the long haul.

As with most compounds there are solutions to a psychological or physical addiction to these drugs, specifically with DXM. The aforementioned "dexpert" William E. White proffers a number of rehabilitation and detox scenarios at the Erowid DXM Vault, Erowid being the foremost website for any keen amateur alchemist of the 21st Century and a site "Documenting the complex relationship between humans and Psychoactives." Of course most of them, such as going cold turkey and explaining your predicament to mutually dex-obsessed friends, will be unacceptable to the casual user. So fuck 'em, I say, and kill their televisions while you're at it.

"The Gus" doesn't like this kind of talk, as he has a certain affinity for the dregs that drink these drugs. On The Musings of Gus he calls Skittleheads "psychonauts" and he looks out for them like a proud but punch-drunk parent. If there is one person looking out for the tripper's well-being, overall, it is The Gus. Case in point: when it was revealed that the seemingly innocuous Dex source Benylin contained a powerful laxative that could give the chemical cretins a raucous case of the shits, he issued an emergency bulletin on his page and urged them to picket their neighboring suppliers.

The Gus is just the kind of dude you'd suspect him of being by his nickname. When you submit a comment on his site, you receive confirmation that it went through by way of a message that reads, in big bold writing, "ROCK ON! Thanks for doing the funky monkey with a donkey!"

The Gus might lack the medical professional credentials, but his command of metaphor and simile is every bit as sinewy as a mediocre poetry veteran. "On a low dose you might simply feel that a walk in the woods is in no way different from Dorothy's adventure down the Yellowbrick Road. With a higher dose, the same walk might feel like a scenario in a Star Wars movie. At high doses, it transcends all movie metaphors, though one usually relies on such metaphors afterward in order to put the experience into words for friends.  

"The thing about high doses of DXM is that contradictory experiences become the norm: you can

both be swimming and flying at the same time. You can be a virgin and a Mormon polygamist. You can be single-celled and also the sum of all humanity."

The Gus proposes that people should be taking drugs like DXM and sizzurp to "break free of the inevitable ruts of [their] rational existence," and adduces that "the key [to experimenting with Dextromethorphan and the like] is to transcend brands and marketing and focus exclusively on ingredients as listed on the packaging."

"You do not want side-ingredients that will destroy your liver at...doses necessary to produce a useful, transcendent effect." The Gus is an atheist, but still he insists on using words like "transcendence" and "the connectedness of all life" when discussing the spectacle of the syrup. 

Does the dose make you a disciple? Well...it puts you in close quarters with the smaller population, if nothing else. As The Gus puts it, "It's good to feel a sense of community and to realize that crickets and sowbugs are just like you in trying to get through their day."

As a responsible adult, with clean urine and only a rudimentary dependence on alcohol consumption, I do not share (would-be) doctor Gus's empathy and enthusiasm. To each his own, I say. And to each his own chemically-induced coma. I no more empathize with scuds and isopods than I do with pusillanimous pillbugs and silverfish or, for that matter, any form of pathetic psychotropic pill-pusher. 

These sick clowns can justify it, they can spin it, they can simply renounce the idea of anything else. As Lil Wayne says, "Do your history, do your research. It ain't that easy [to stop]--feels like death in your stomach when you stop doing that shit."

If they won't take accountability or precautions, somebody else will have to regulate it for them. In the last couple of years, some states and store chains have enforced restrictions, asking for signatures to be signed for DXM sales and/or pulling the OTC medication from the racks and placing it behind the counter where the consumer must prove that they are over the age of 18 in order to snatch some up. The same cannot be said for Promethazine and Codeine, which were always a controlled substance to begin with. The sizzurp is on the black market and can hardly be regulated by the white coats. It remains a perennial favorite, especially among young bucks in the South, respiratory failure be damned!

I, for one, cannot relate to these fuck-faced amateurs, these irresponsible guttersnipes, even if I count many of them among my friends. The greasy metalheads, crunchy techno hippies and uncorked Skittleheads are Flipper Babies I have no sympathy for. As I sit here and flush my Cymbalta-numb tongue off with a gulp of a Monster energy drink and I chase the serotonin inhibitor with some Cialis, in preparation for my evening with the Gas Mask Girls (two twits I met on Twatter who like to suffocate on pot smoke while cramped inside a trunk), I dream of all the righteous overdoses, the emergency room visits, rectal bleeding, dry-heaving, and near-death seizures that will, hopefully, teach these imbecilic heathens a lesson. There is no bright hue when drinking this Drank.

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