The Pill Hack’s Handbook

Written by George Tabb on . Posted in Books, Posts.

Pill Hack
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.