I Want a New Drug

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Last year the FDA asked the companies manufacturing GBL supplements both to recall them voluntarily and to stop making them.

But GHB and GBL still sell to those deft enough to find them, and GHB runs cheap: a mere ten-spot for an ounce. Budget-minded users find the price right, especially when compared to other drugs like Ecstasy or alcohol, both of which are often mixed with G. Since booze is another central nervous system depressant, combining it with GHB can strip inhibitions and render one unconscious, two reasons why sexual predators use it surreptitiously to lace the beverages of victims in clubs and at parties."With G, it's so easy to cross that line. Then your mind is gone," says Laura. Her experiences with GHB began recreationally in the late '90s and ended at a small get-together at her apartment, where two men she barely knew had sex with her while she slipped in and out of consciousness."I went into my roommate's closet to get a nightgown, and he came in the room, and I blacked out. When I'd come to, he was having sex with me. I shoved him off, got up, and blacked out again," says Laura. She's sitting on the patio of an Intracoastal home she's watching for an out-of-town friend. Behind her, a pink hibiscus bobs in the midday breeze, and a lagoonlike pool fills most of the deck. She still sounds shocked as she recalls what happened two years ago.

"Then I went into my room, and the other guy was there, and he started having sex with me. Each time I kept coming to, one of them was on top of me. It was traumatic, the most horrible thing…," she remembers.

Laura was first introduced to G through a friend who lauded it as a fat-burner. Laura claims she lost 20 pounds in three weeks after starting daily dosages. She also used it as a substitute for the painkillers she'd take for her migraines. "But then I liked it a little toooo much," she says. "It would make me feel euphoric, just really, really good. And I couldn't get it anywhere. It was really hard to find."

So she became resourceful and purchased a GHB kit on the Internet from somewhere in Canada. The $200 kit came with GHB's two essential and legal chemicals: gamma butryolactone, a commonly used solvent, and sodium hydroxide, also known as ordinary lye. Also lifted from the Internet was her recipe, which she still has jotted down in an old journal. She lights a Marlboro, hunches over, and reads the recipe out loud in a sing-songy voice.

"You have to have activated charcoal, a gallon of distilled water, white vinegar, a one-liter soda bottle, three metal spoons, and pH test strips. You know, with color chart?"

The pH strips are crucial and are used after combining the gamma butryolactone, lye, and distilled water in a glass dish. Home-mixers dip the strips into the mixture and then scrutinize the accompanying pH color chart, which ranges from 1 to 10. Venture too high on the scale, and the sodium hydroxide will dissolve skin, hair, clothing, paint, and even a few plastics.

"You have to get to pH 7. That's neutral. If it's not, don't touch it. Just throw it out. It could really burn your insides; it'll kill you," she warns.

Laura popped her chemical casserole into the oven at 180 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes, with a shot of vinegar thrown in afterward, until the pH strip tested at 7. Then she let it cool to room temperature, poured it into the soda bottle, and added some of the charcoal. The rest of the bottle she filled with water, shaking the brew every ten minutes for an hour and a half, then poured it through a coffee filter to sift out the gunk.

The final product was too unsavory and concentrated to swallow, so she'd dilute it with grape Kool-Aid. She says the gallon would last her about three weeks on average, and she'd take capfuls from the moment she awoke to right before she fell asleep. She also sold her goods to friends. A full 16-ounce water bottle went for $80, but she'd sell half and even quarter bottles for $10 an ounce. Each sale was accompanied by her handwritten caveats about potency, dosage, and avoiding booze. She never sold to anyone she didn't know and never without "instructions."

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Emma Trelles