Providing straightforward information pertaining to drugs, drug use & drug policy. The Grey Pages promotes drug-related literacy and advocates a system of viable and tolerant drug policies. This is my personal collection of commentaries, essays, tid-bits, and other such writings on everything ranging from drug use, drug policy and drug-myths, to drug-science, addiction, human behavior, and the workings of the human brain. I started this blog with a particular focus on opioids, and over the past year have found my interest gravitate toward the intriguing, ever-changing world of designer intoxicants (i.e. "research chemicals" or "designer drugs").

Sunday, April 29, 2012

IV Drug Use: Risks and Risk Management (Revised)

(Search Keyword: harm reduction, IV drug use, injecting, cellulitis, abscess, necrosis, IV related infection)

General Risks

aftermath of an accidental arterial injection of demerol
Injecting drugs in pharmaceutical tablet or capsule form, as well as street form, presents a significant hazard of injury, infection and death. Tiny particles invisible to the eye may cause blood vessel blockage which can travel to essential organs such as the heart, lungs, or brain, and cause pulmonary embolism or stroke - usually unexpectedly, hours or days after injection.

In addition, foreign particles or bacteria which often leaks into surrounding tissue is likely to lead to cellulitis (a serious infection) and abscess; an abscess is a protective response of the body intended to quarantine the foreign particles/bacteria and prevent infection. Both cellulitis and abscess are serious medical conditions, requiring urgent medical treatment. Both can quickly lead to serious complications, including systemic infection and death.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Drug Self-Administration: Rat Behavior vs Human Behavior

Most of us have heard the story of the cocaine addicted rat who continues pressing the button (for a dose of cocaine) in lieu of food until it starves to death. The idea that "addicted" drug users cannot stop or control their drug use has historically been reinforced by these observations made during animal self-administration studies.

The application of these rat studies to human models of addiction is fundamentally flawed. 

The behavior of rats cannot possibly be compared to the behavior of humans. Rats are devoid of any capacity for reason and intelligence.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The 4 Plateaus: Pharmacology of the DXM Experience

The pharmacological actions of DXM are dose dependent. The subjective and behavioral effects are uniquely defined by various stages of receptor action and receptor saturation.

Featured Piece: Cui bono? ("Who Benefits")

Project Narco: Cui bono?: If we're to consider how and why the current, age old, misguided approach to drug policy continues, it is necessary to consider who benefits...

William Bennett (Drug Warrior)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

NMDA Antagonists & Dissociation

Drugs such as PCPketamine, and dextromethorphan produce an inhibitory effect on neural circuits of the central nervous system. This manifests as a peculiar anaesthetic state referred to as "dissociation" - best described as a disconnection of conscious awareness from sensory and environmental processing. This is due to the blockade of communication between sensory input and the processing structures of the brain; and between various circuits of the brain itself - depending on the dose. 

Recommended Off-Site Reading & Reference (Essential Pharmacology Collection)

Plenty of information in these links. Enjoy..

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why Do People Use Drugs?

Most anti-drug fundamentalists espouse a moralistic view of drug use. They are adamant in their belief that the desire to alter ones consciousness is by no means a normal component of the human condition, and that such desires indicate ungodliness and immorality. Meanwhile, most of those in the treatment, prevention, and recovery world are just as passionate in their own belief that the desire to alter ones mind is pathologically abnormal, supposedly indicative of a brain disease.

Both the moralistic anti-drug fanatic, and the paternalistic treatment-official, are misguided in their conclusions. We cannot and should not continue to categorize the use of drugs by the reductionistic dichotomy of "use" vs "abuse"; nor can we rightfully make judgements as to which use of a drug is right and which use of a drug is wrong.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Recommended Reading

The writer is Steven Slate, and I love this guy's site. "The Clean Slate" offers some brilliant insight regarding human behavior and addiction "treatment"...

The Clean Slate: Top Ten Ways to Stay Addicted

Sunday, April 22, 2012

This Week: MDxx Series (Ecstasy Analogues)

Project Narco: MDxx Series Vault: MDPEA (3,4-methylenedioxyphenethylamine) MDxx refers to a class of substituted methylenedioxyphenethylamines. MDMA (ecstasy) is the pro...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Self Contradiction in the Brain Disease Model

I discovered an interesting piece at thecleanslate.org. This site is similar to my own only in that it takes a strong position against the disease model of addiction and the "treatment" industry that it's subsequently spawned. Now, I'll briefly summarize what this piece has already explained so well...

Ibogaine Vault

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive compound found in the African “tabernanthe iboga” plant. Ibogaine is known for its potent psychedelic and dissociative properties. It has traditionally been used for entheogenic purposes, as part of a “coming of age ritual” (erowid), and has more recently become popular as a self-treatment for opioid addiction. Chemically, ibogaine is an atypical tryptamine derivative. Due to the presence of the tryptamine moiety (skeleton), it possesses serotonergic properties, acting as an 5HT2A agonist, thus producing some effects similar to LSD or psilocybin. In addition to serotonergic properties, ibogaine is an NMDA antagonist and a kappa receptor agonist - it is for this reason that the drug has proven useful in treating opioid dependence.

Further Reading (Off-Site): Ibogaine Experiences (Erowid)

Muddying the Waters of Pathology and Choice: A Fundamental Misconception in the Brain Disease Model

I've been dying to discuss what is perhaps the most popularly used, yet frequently overlooked, logical fallacy in the treatment and recovery culture. It essentially leads us to assume that due to the literal physiological nature of the addictive process, the addicted individual has no control over his behavior.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Introducing the New "History" Page

Project Narco: History: Includes links to several historical pieces, and to a complete, section by section, drug-policy timeline.

History Lesson: The Harrison Act (Pt 2)

(The aftermath of the 1914 Harrison Act, and the immediate period of transition which followed)

Before moving forward I should probably mention there are conflicting accounts as to the original explicit intention of the Harrison Act, and whether the actual motives were then well known. In any case, the Harrison Act marked the beginning of a major transitional period in Drug Policy, which lasted until 1970 - when congress dropped the whole "taxing" smokescreen and began passing outright federal criminal drug prohibition laws. However, the 1914 legislation being the topic at hand, passage of the Harrison Act played out as follows....

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A "Must Read": The Parallels of Drug Policy & S...

Food For Thought: The Parallels of Drug Policy & Social Climate: Just as food is reflective of a culture, our drug laws are reflective of our current social and political climates....

Drug Policy Propaganda, Obama Style

Source: whitehouse.gov
Amidst growing international pressure to explore alternatives to the current US led "War On Drugs", President Obama addressed a summit of South American, Central American, and Mexican colleagues at the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia over the weekend. 

A full transcript of the dialogue can be found here. However, there are a couple statements in particular (printed in italics) which I'd like to further analyze:

"I personally, and my administration's position is, that legalization is not the answer, that in fact if you think about how it would end up operating, the capacity of a large-scale drug trade to dominate certain countries, if they were allowed to operate legally without any constraint could be just as corrupting, if not more corrupting than the status quo,"

A "large scale trade to dominate certain countries"? How, may I ask, would a legalized drug industry act any differently than a legalized alcohol or tobacco industry? And apparently, according to Mr. Obama, we must choose between the current criminalization of drugs and drug use, and, an unrestrained, unregulated industry...

History Lesson: A Legislative Kick-Start to Criminal Drug Prohibition (The Harrison Act)

In 1914, the "Harrison Narcotics Tax Act" was established. 

The harrison act would be the very first federal law to establish criminal sanctions on the use of certain drugs. It would also set the model for every piece of federal criminal legislation from that point on through 1970 (including, for instance, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937).

The intention of this act was to criminalize the nonmedical use of narcotics, and to regulate the medical use of narcotics. 

There were roadblocks in achieving this federal law - the constitutional doctrine of States rights. The federal government (i.e. Congress) did not have the legitimate power to regulate any professional practice, nor did it have the power to enact any criminal law. This power was left to the individual states themselves (only in recent years have we seen criminal laws established at the federal level). Congress was slick, as it utilized the one tool which they could in order to bypass these limitations of power. The federal income tax (which was established just 1 year prior) set somewhat of a precedent for the congressional power to tax.

Natural Recovery From Heroin Addiction

It's more common than you might think, especially when one buys into the notion of addiction as a "life long, incurable, relapsing illness". Some of the literature out there, which examines alcohol addiction and heroin addiction, serves to further suggest that it's not. The rates of "remission" or abstinence for those who never receive "clinical treatment" or "12-step" help for their addictions are identical to the recovery rates for those who complete treatment programs and attend 12-step meetings. In some cases, the research (along with overwhelming anecdotal experience) suggests that exposure to the treatment-recovery culture actually makes recovery & positive change less likely.

I published this entry after seeing a piece over at thecleanslate.org.

Featured Piece: Introduction to Psychedelic Drugs

Project Narco: Introduction to Psychedelic Drugs: A psychedelic compound is, generally speaking, a psychoactive drug whose main action is to alter cognition and perception. Psychedelics...

Friday, April 13, 2012

4 Major Distinctions Between Real Disease States and the "Disease of Addiction"

The changes seen in this brain scan are actually not
so unique after all
(1) The symptoms of cancer cannot be changed with behavioral choices. The symptoms of cancer cannot be unlearned. While the process of neuroplasticity strengthens the brain circuits related to drug use, and creates pathways connecting memory, positive emotions, reward with drug related environmental and pharmacological stimulus, the same is true in reverse - these same brain circuits and pathways can be weakened over a period of different drug taking habits, while the areas associated with the new behaviors are strengthened instead - all through the same process of neuroplasticity (discussed further below). Simply put, neuroplasticity mediates the brain changes which take place when we learn information, form memories, develop skills, form memory/sensory connections, and learn behavioral habits, and so forth. Just as we can develop new skills and learn new habits, we can un-learn such skills and habits as well. It simply takes time, commitment, and consistency.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Overview of the Classic Hallucinogenic-Psychedelic Family of Drugs


Source: NYAS.org
The term hallucinogen is a misnomer. Hallucination, by definition, describes a completely realistic encounter involving complex persons, objects, or entities that have absolutely no basis in reality (hallucinations are created out of imagination or thin air). Most so-called hallucinogenic drugs, including LSD, are not capable of producing such a phenomenon - they do however distort, alter, and enhance sensory input such as sight and sound. This may include seeming movements of objects already present (i.e. breathing or back & forth shifting of walls, vibrating ceiling), enhancement of colors, visual tracers (spots which follow from lights or bright objects when ones vision is shifted), enhancement of music or other sounds, or synesthesia (a bizzarre misprocessing of sight & sound, when one will hear colors and see noises).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Psychodependence: A Syndrome of Reinforcement & Learning


This term is used to describe a phenomenon in which a drug user becomes psychologically and emotionally dependent on the use of a given drug; typically after a period of regular use. This form of dependence often contributes to a behavioral pattern of drug seeking and habitual drug use.

Featured Piece: Dissertation on Opioid Dependence

Project Narco: Opioid Dependence: About: Physiological Tolerance & Dependence  Homeostatic balance and cyclic AMP induced upregulation: For a regular opioid agonist such...