Not just in America but also in the UK, the '90s rave scene played a particularly important role in popularizing polydrug use. "Modern patterns of polysubstance abuse go back to the mid-1990s rave scene when ecstasy was usually MDMA," Hall says. "Yet even back then, ecstasy did not always live up to its name. Users who expected more of a stimulant rush would begin their weekend with a snorted line of cocaine [or] try LSD... More experienced crashers would ultimately turn to heroin to bring them down after the weekend binge."

Flash forward to today, and the rave scene has been reborn as EDM, and ecstasy has been rebranded molly. Many EDM fans believe they are safe because they take only one substance, molly, which is supposed to be pure MDMA. The reality is that most molly contains little or no MDMA and often consists of some hideous polydrug combination of various cathinones (bath salts), methamphetamine, and whatever the drug dealer happens to have lying around when he or she fills the capsules.

The role of alcohol in these mixes is particularly problematic. Many polydrug users don't think vodka or tequila is a drug because it's legal and ubiquitous. But sometimes it can act as a hidden catalyst that turns a hazardous combo into a fatal one. How many people have woken up after a night of binging on cocaine, opened their fridge to find an empty bottle inside, and wondered, How the hell did I drink a liter of vodka last night?

Hoffman succumbed to a lethal mix.
Columbia Pictures
Hoffman succumbed to a lethal mix.

Similarly with prescription drugs, there's a widely held belief that because a doctor prescribed the drug, it's pure, and pure means safe. With a few obvious exceptions — such as fentanyl-laced heroin, the cause of more than 80 deaths in the Northeast within only the past few weeks — oftentimes pure drugs are just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than adulterated ones.

Another problem is that polydrug users think because a drug's high has worn off, the substance is no longer active in their bodies. That's simply not true. The toxic half-life of opiates, for example, can last for days after the initial high, so when the user redoses with more opiates or another type of drug, he or she can turn already-dangerous levels of toxicity into a deadly poison.

As the old saying goes, choose your poison (or poisons) carefully — because chemistry is not a DJ mix set.

But there is good news: The wave of prescription drug abuse so prevalent in recent years has begun to decline. The bad news: Lately, a new wave of drugs, so-called research chemicals from Chinese factories, has flooded the market. Adding another x-factor to an already-volatile mix, some of these substances are so obscure that not even DEA chemists can identify them.

"Polysubstance abuse is not new, but it has exploded in the 21st Century, fueled by wide-scale prescription drug diversion and now the emergence of hundreds of synthetic chemicals from labs in China which are sold online and delivered by worldwide overnight delivery services," Hall says. "In just the last two years, small cohorts of heavy club drug users have been identified in London as well as other European cities, the United States, and, of course, South Beach. Most have consumed numerous different drugs over the past three months and continue to mix three or four substances daily."

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DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Why are humans so unhappy?


Ixne Hendrix I have to say.  He was really murdered. 


    as someone who was a hard drinking nightcrawler for 2 decades in NYC, and never lost his job or missed a day of work even if I had never went to bed, I feel for all of these people. It is both hard and boring and socially limiting to be straight and sober. I purposely stayed away from pills and drugs because I loved being altered, loved every thing about alcohol, and knew I would take drugs too far. "Know your dose and stay away from pills and powder" is pretty good advice. Moderation is good advice, but what fun is that? Couple years sober, with boring days and socially limited life, but at least I am not being fired or struggling through another day exhausted and nauseous. It is fun to play on the edge of of the world, but it is OK to step back, and just be happy to be alive. Breathing is pretty fun too, as opposed to not breathing.  


Since she admittedly has such a hard time avoiding hard drugs in Miami Beach, perhaps a MOVE would help; the only reason she continues to live there is because she loves her rugs more than anything else.


Know your dose and stay away from pills and powders.  Simple as that.