The Pill Hack's Handbook


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Pill Hack
"Nick," I say to my stepdad as he's busy clicking away on my Macintosh Power PC, "you gotta check out this book I just got."

"Book?" he says as he pushes random buttons trying to undo the damage he's already done. "You don't read books."


"Yes I do," I exclaim, trying to distract him from killing my computer.


"Reading Star Trek books doesn't count," he says, "and the 'literature' you have with all the naked ladies is porn."


"Yeah," I say, "just like all those 'art' books you have lying around the house."


"Okay, George," Nick says as he finally stands up and moves away from my computer, "what's the book?"


"It's a book about one of my favorite things."


"I told you those were porno magazines," says Nick.


"Not pussy," I say. "Pills. A whole book dedicated to the history and marketing and everything else about pills."


"Well, they certainly got your number," Nick says. "If anyone was ever a pillhead..."


"Thanks," I say to my stepdad, truly touched.


"You're welcome," he says, and with that we hug.


A real father and son moment.


I love pills. It's true. In fact, as I write this I am currently taking many scrips. I'm on Prozac. I was on Serzone, and before that Paxil. Wellbutrin before that and Zoloft before that. Actually, I was on Prozac right after being diagnosed as "depressed," but those were the days before they invented the Sony PlayStation. Anyway, the Prozac stopped working, so I had to switch to other antidepressants, all of which fucked with my wiener-schnitzel. So I'm back on the Eli Lilly/Liz Wurtzel wonder.


I'm also on Klonopin. Or Clonazepan, as it's called by its generic name. It's an antianxiety drug. I take those because I get so stressed from the Sony PlayStation. I just can't beat that damn last level.


Then there's Levsin. And Dicyclomine. I take those for my enlarged prostate. The Levsin is actually kind of cool. You take the stop-sign-shaped pill and put it under your tongue and let it melt. As it slides smoothly down the back of your throat like butter the cramping down in the groin/anal area starts to subside. Which is a good thing, because it sometimes hurts like hell. Like someone's sticking a knife up your ass.


Of course there's Fiorinal, or Butalbital, as it's called in its generic form. I take these for my migraines. If I take more than two or three, I get a little buzz. My friend Mike used to say that they were "happy" pills. They make me happy too, 'cause the fucking headaches go away. But they do cause constipation, so I usually have to up my Metamucil.


Then there's the random pills. The ones I take every once in a while for the little things like ulcers, back pain, sinus pressure and gas. These usually work right away, or within 30 minutes, so I'm okay.


But then, of course, there are the good pills. The great pills. The wonderful ones. The ones that I'm not supposed to have. Or have had. The ones that really got me hooked.


I guess it started in 1992. Right after my best friend, who was also my mother, passed away. She had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer 11 months earlier, and when she died she left more than just loved ones behind. She left drugs. Lots and lots of them.


Anyone who knows anyone who has/had cancer knows the drugs they use to fight it are impressive. The people with the cancer usually can't take enough of these things to kill the pain, but those of us who aren't diagnosed with anything so horrible yet can get very fucked up on just one or two of these little wonders.


And get fucked up I did. For many years. On just the drugs my mom left behind. I think in some ways I was trying to dull my own pain from losing her. But I don't want to whine here. I want to brag. Some of these drugs were amazing.


Percocets. Ativans. Codeine. Darvocet. And the granddaddy of them all, MS Contin. That shit was dope. Literally. It was synthetic time-released morphine. I used to have to cut it into tiny pieces to handle it. I took a whole one once and couldn't move for 24 hours. I felt like my heart was going to stop at any second because it was beating so slow.


But eventually all those drugs got used up. So now I'm just taking whatever I can get my hands on legally. Like T-3s from the dentist (Tylenol 3, with codeine), or the 222s or AC&Cs (codeine, caffeine and either aspirin or acetaminophen) I got in Canada. Not nearly as strong as the other stuff, but then again, that's probably a good thing. I hear too much of any good thing can kill you.


Which brings us to Jim Hogshire's new book, Pills-A-Go-Go. It's based on the 22 or so issues of a zine Mr. Hogshire released under the same name. This book, in two words, kicks ass.


It begins with an introduction from Hogshire, then goes into a whole spiel about what a pillhead in society actually is. And after reading this I can say that I'm not only a member, but I could also be the president.


Hogshire traces the pill through history, explaining that the word "pill" comes from the Latin word "pillula," meaning "little ball." He explains how they used to be made with clay or bread, and how, through time, that changed. How pharmacy and medical practice used to be the same thing. But soon people caught on to the fact that doctors really got into selling their own potions, so the separation of pill and physician evolved.


There's a whole bit about marketing. How pharmaceutical corporations bribe doctors, giving them free coffee mugs, candy, notepads, calendars, clocks, umbrellas, even trips to Hawaii so that these physicians will prescribe their drugs to the masses. No wonder fucking drugs cost so much.


The middle section of Pills-A-Go-Go kind of gets bogged down with stuff about how doctors view their patients and problems that pharmacists face. Sort of interesting, but it didn't really capture my attention like the rest of the book. In the "Pills and Suicide" section, things start to get exciting again. We learn that it actually takes a hell of a lot of pills to kill yourself. Or a hell of a lot more than I've ever taken, anyway. Though Hogshire does explain that, over time, all this shit does fuck up your liver. There are chapters about "rape drugs" like Rohypnol and sex drugs, like Viagra. In fact, there's a section called "Viagra and the Boner Test."


It's when Hogshire gets into DM, "Poor Man's PCP," that the book goes from amazing to incredible. He explains the chemical similarities between angel dust and over-the-counter cough medicine, and goes on to do a "test" by drinking a couple bottles of the stuff. What results is a harrowing story, scarier than The Blair Witch Project, about a drive to Kinko's at 4 o'clock in the morning and how he believed his brain had become reptilian. You just can't make this shit up. Fuck me if I'll ever drink that crap again. I always felt weird after I took just tiny doses of the stuff, and now I know why. I'm tossin' the 'Tussin.


Elsewhere, Hogshire instructs you on how to forge a scrip, teaching you all those little notations that doctors make. There's info on how to import foreign pharmaceuticals as well. All very, very interesting reading.


But the end of the book is the best. It starts out with a section called "Making Hard Drugs Out of Mom's Codeine Pills." Here, Hogshire actually explains how to convert codeine to morphine just by using simple chemicals like HCL. He also explains how to make your own Quaaludes, and then explains something I've been waiting to hear about for years: how to hack codeine pills. See, you take lots of codeine pills and get really fucked up, especially if you drink on them, but it's dangerous. Not only because of the alcohol/narcotic mix, but because of all the other chemicals that come in codeine pills. The aspirin and acetaminophen. This shit will actually destroy your liver and kill you. But now I know a way to slow that process down, real fast.


Last night, with Pills-A-Go-Go in hand, I conducted a little experiment in my kitchen, and it worked. Following Hogshire's directions, which were easy as making coffee, I was able to extract lots of harmful shit out of the 222s I got in Canada and get fucked up, real fast. I'm not going to tell you how I did it, because you really should read the book, but I will tell you it worked so well it actually scared me. It worked so well that Wendy made me promise never to do it again, ever. At least, not without her there. Doh.


Pills-A-Go-Go closes with a bunch of Internet and drug literature references, which I'll probably wind up looking into one day. But not now. This book really is enough to satisfy my pillhead appetite for quite some time. Nick says he wishes that years ago I was as interested in learning as I am now.


Then maybe I would have finished college.


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