the subjective side of pharmacology, and some recipes for when you get the munchies. this site does not endorse the consumption of illicit substances.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

ok this is a fun site to visit when you are altered. egg, link from it took me a while to realize that, yes, where my mouse pointer was, was controlling where the eggs were going. weird. that was trippy. anyway.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

last night some dude came up to me and asked me if i had any ecstasy. man. do i look like a drug dealer?

although. i wish i did have some e. oh well.

Friday, August 22, 2003

i have successfully associated smoking cigarettes with talking on the phone, in this twisted brain of mine. i don't know what's worse, the fact that when i'm outside and on my cel phone, i chain smoke like there's no tomorrow, or that when i go out to smoke a cigarette, i get the urge to call everyone on my contact list.

there is just something about the big city that makes me want to inhale smoke. if i'm in chi-town or nyc, i just go through packs at a time. the difference with l.a. is, yeah, true, there is the whole california healthy lifestyle, and the fact that you aren't allowed to smoke indoors anywhere, but also, there is this anecdote i heard that living in l.a., or socal in general, is that it's the equivalent of smoking 4 cigarettes a day, or a whole pack in a work-week. i mean, why support phillip morris if you can get your carbon monoxide for free?

Thursday, August 21, 2003

ah. agave. who knew. so yesterday, of course, we break the cardinal rule, and start off with beer, and then go to margaritas. we were only supposed to do two pitchers for seven people. in reality, it eventually added up to one pitcher per person.

i was drunk off my ass.

but this time it was quite strange. mania kicked in. pressured speech, flight of ideas. i told the story about how in the old days, sometimes surgeons would screw up when they were trying to repair congenital anomalies, and would accidentally lop off a baby's penis. so, in order to rectify the situation, they would change the baby's anatomy so that he would be a girl, and then would advise the parents to rise the baby as a girl. i personally think that many people who eventually elect to change genders were victims of such a surgical accident. and then i told the story about how in this one village in santo domingo in the dominican republic, there is this androgen insensitivity gene where some babies grow up as girls, but when they reach puberty, they grow penises. because, i guess, of all the inbreeding and what not, this is actually a very common phenomenon in this one village, and they even have a ceremony for it and everything. there was a movie about this, which i can't remember the name of.

and then me and eo spent some time discussing some of the embarrassing things rv has done. i mean, my dirty laundry is hung out for all to see. i'm going to take as many people into the sewer with me as i can.

by the end of the night, i needed a cool surface to lay against.

one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.

but i just couldn't stop laughing. i would try to sleep, but a giggle would just bubble up from within in, and i would soon break into uproarious laughter. (responding to internal stimuli, i guess.) it went on like this for nearly an hour, until i got too tired, realized that i had to wake up the next morning, and so i walked home in the searing 80 degree heat. at 2am in the morning.

but, yeah. i'm curious. anyone else ever react to tequila this way? maybe i'm simply going insane.

Monday, August 18, 2003

so when i was talking to b and then later to y and eo, i was reminiscing about the worst drinking experiences i've had. since alcohol has such a deleterious effect on memory, it's not surprising that i forget them all.

the big three:
1. when i was 16, me and b started drinking up a storm. i started off with 4 or 5 shots of 151, chased by zima. really disgusting. then we started plundering the boxed wine. and then we got into b's dad's liquor cabinet, where i made acquaintances with señor cuervo, and god knows what else. by the end of the night, i was rocking on my ass, telling b the names of the women whom i wanted to have sex with. my parents ended up having to come get me, and i was puking for at least two days. i woke up drunk the next day, that's for certain.

2. when i turned 20, people thought it would be good idea to get me shots of 151. after about 4, i leaned up against the wall in a hallway and squatted down, pondering my own thoughts and mumbling to myself for the remainder of the evening. i really don't remember how i got home. i was sick the entire next day, and had problems keeping anything down. i was puking continuously, even water wouldn't stay down. even when i didn't take anything, i was dry heaving. what made me feel better was tossing the frisbee around with er (ok, i can't use the word "tossing" without thinking of something sick, but that is definitely not what i mean.)

3. my last year in college (i was actually of legal drinking age at this point) i crashed a wedding reception with m. i got sloppy drunk, and would've started hitting on the cute 16 year olds sitting with their boyfriends, if not for the fact that i was puking my guts out on the balcony of the venue. m had to pull me out of a puddle of my own vomit, and the only way he could get me to move was by panicking me by telling me the cops were coming. when i got home, i crashed in the middle of the living room floor, face down, and didn't move for 12-16 hours. again, i was sick the entire next day, although i was able to eat by evening time. surprisingly, sushi is actually pretty good and soothing to the alcohol-irritated stomach lining, even with wasabe.

then i recalled other episodes that, while i don't think were as severe as the aforementioned ones, warrant a definite mention:

4. grad school, after 2-3 pitchers of beer on an empty stomach on a cold winter night. face down on the sofa for nearly 24 hours. my roommate, who was also i n the same dire straits, actually had the wherewithal to go to class. each time he would return home, he would find me in the same position. "are you ok?" he would ask. without turning around, i would attempt to reassure him by talking through the seat cushions.

5. after y convinces me that the glass is full of tonic water, and not, as was the case, full of almost entirely gin, i gulp it down. the last i remember was singing the national anthem. while the mind gave up, apparently the body did not, and what i am told is that i offered my rectum generously to the entire party for pilfering. luckily, there were no takers. of course, i woke up on the ground without my pants. panicked, considering that the only other person left in the place was a guy, i later worked it out that i had merely forgotten to pull my pants back up the last time i had gone to take a leak. this one kept me from drinking for a while, though. more from emotional distress than from actually physical damage, though.

6. then of course there was that recent episode which i will speak no more of, which by the end of the night i was leaning up against a tree, puking my brains out.

ah, the wonderful things we do to our body and mind.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

quote of the day: "i will never forget what little i remember from that night." — EO

a beautiful girl puked on me tonight. this is my definition of an excellent outing. yes.

surprisingly, i am still functional enough to type. it's wonderful what 20 mg of ephedrine will do, not to mention 100 mg of sertraline. i kind of wonder if the ranitidine (75 mg) really did have an effect. (as you know, there is this rumor that histamine-2 receptor blockers enhance your ability to drink alcohol, although it would seem, that if the current theories of physiology and pharmacology are correct, it should actually diminish your tolerance. what it probably does is make you less sick, but more drunk. but what do i know)

i am a walking study in self-medication and polypharmacy. did i mention i also ingested some rabeprazole 20 mg, because of gerd? i considered also taking some naproxen prophylactically, but, mixed with the alcohol, i'm sure that would've just eaten a hole through my stomach lining.

drunk. again. what am i doing with my life?

have you ever read a tale of two cities by charles dickens? i have been told by two very influential people in my life that i remind them of the drunken bastard hero sidney carton. i suppose that someday, my head will end on the chopping block, and no one who matters will even know my sacrifice.

ah. 3:30am. the vile half-hour of depression.

thankfully, i'm a coward. otherwise i would so put a bullet through my head right about now.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

originally written Wed Aug 13 06:02:57 PM:

why do whiskeys that are so popular (and cheap) all start with J? Johnny Walker. Jim Beam. Jack Daniels.

originally written Wed Aug 13 11:34:29 AM:

i had the urge to go drinking last night, by myself. a few people have told me that, perhaps, i have a problem. well, i know what that problem is, really. it's that whole damned novelty-seeking thing. my D4 receptors are seriously thwacked.

anyway, i haven't really had a drink in quite a while now (not since the weekend, heh), and it used to be that tuesdays were one of the nights me and a good friend would meet up at my neighborhood bar (last summer, we had all the days of the week worked out, except for, for some reason, wednesday. that was the only day we never figured out a place to go to.)

so i order a stoli martini with olives, and watch whatever they're playing on tv. it was seriously wacko shit. one tv was playing, of all things, the learning channel (the other was playing the cartoon network), and apparently it was an urban legend debunking show (what's with these things? since when did they become all the rage? damned internet.) but i didn't know this going in. given that, obviously, the audio had been muted, all i saw was the cabin of a passenger airplane. one of the passengers was apparently complaining about a weird noise in the window. the flight attendant checks it out, and immediately gets sucked out of the airplane and dismembered, instantly depressurizing the cabin, and splattering the hapless passengers with blood. this clip gets shown over and over again, with diverse experts (aerospace engineers, deep sea divers, doctors) chiming in every so often. i have no idea what they were trying to debunk, exactly, but it really weirded me out, seeing the cg animation of the flight attendant's dismembered arms and legs plummeting from the sky over and over again. not a nice thing to watch when you are mentally altered. i think there was a point i wanted to cry. and then another point that i wanted to laugh. (and then there was that k-y jelly commercial....)

(ADDENDUM: i just couldn't find this urban legend, whatever it is, on google. entering "sucked out of an airplane" yielded a story about a woman committing suicide by jumping out of a small plane and this urban legend that you can be eviscerated by the vacuum caused by an airplane toilet.)

by the end of the martini, i was pretty drunk, which, really, is unusual, given the size of my liver. maybe it's because all i had for dinner were potato chips and a red bull. (healthy, huh?)

i also learned the casinos don't pump oxygen onto the gambling floor. it's something that i've been passing along whenever i've gotten the chance. after all, it makes sense. if you believe tyler durden from fight club. to paraphrase, oxygen gets you high. that's why in all those safety cards in the pockets of an airplane seat, the people are smiling and serene. impending doom is much easier to handle when your neurochemistry has been tampered with. of course, i realize that it would be economically prohibitive to actually try to up the oxygen content of a casino gambling floor. for one thing, smokers would completely counter the increased saturation of oxygen in their blood stream. (not to mention the fact that a lot more things would catch fire) for another, just on room air, your blood is pretty much at full capacity with regards to oxygen. another 1-2% probably isn't going to do much. now, if they introduced trace quantities of nitrous oxide, maybe, or put mirapex in your drinks.... (yeah, the administration of this drug for treatment of parkinsonism was correlated with an increase in gambling behavior. go figure. the wonders of pharmacology.)

in the end, i stumbled home singing to myself. and ended up watching half of fight club. (let me tell you, this movie is excellent even when you aren't drunk.) (i only watched half because the dvd player crapped out, and i didn't have the mental capacity to fight with it and instead, i decided to pass out.)

originally written Mon Aug 11, 09:14:32 PM:

so i am on Zoloft (sertraline) because of my depression, and because of the panic attacks i have been having. i mean, it's not a magic bullet, for sure, but it sure beats wanting to kill yourself every morning.

the problem is that i got the whole akathisia thing. restlessness. i can't keep still. like i always have to keep moving my legs around. i toss and turn in bed at night.

i read somewhere (i'd look it up, but my net access is limited to my cel phone right now) that you can treat it with benztropine, niacin, and 5HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan.) unfortunately, benztropine is a prescription drug (it is an anti-muscarinic agent—i.e., anti-cholinergic but specific to the muscarinic receptors vs. the nicotinic receptors, and is used to treat parkinsonism) but niacin and 5HTP are readily available over-the-counter, and so i've been trying it out.

i really can't tell if it's working.

all i do know is that i am having pretty vivid dreams. and that i am better at staying awake during the day (although i do still need a little caffeine boost every now and then.)

i also wonder if it has a synergistic effect on the sertraline. for some unknown reason (maybe it's simply that the sertraline has finally gotten to therapeutic levels after six weeks), i feel a lot better these days. i can't really point to anything that might have triggered it.

consider that serotonin, melatonin, niacin, tryptophan, and nicotine are all related substances, though.

serotonin, among other things, has been implicated in depression. (not enough serotonin means a crappy mood.) relatedly, mdma (ecstasy) causes a precipitous release of serotonin. this is why you get all happy. but, just like lsd, which is a serotonergic agonist, you can also get hallucinations.

melatonin, along with serotonin, regulates the sleep cycle, actually, the circadian rhythm in general.

niacin, which plants can synthesize from tryptophan, is found pretty much everywhere, the precursor to NAD (niacinamide adenine dinucleotide—necessary for most of metabolism, particularly in the conversion of sugar and fat to energy and carbon dioxide, a do-it-all cofactor to many enzymatic reactions.) incidentally, it is also used in the treatment of hyperlipidemias, decreasing the production of VLDLs and increasing the production of HDLs (the good cholesterol)

tryptophan is an essential amino acid, is supposedly what is responsible for the post-prandial dip on thanksgiving (as turkey is loaded with tryptophan), and is the precursor for both serotonin and melatonin

nicotine, which smokers know and love so well, is a cholinergic agonist (responsible for its stimulant properties.) a pharmacologist once told me that nicotine is actually far more addictive than heroin. i don't know how he quantified that, but i kind of believe it.

so. i've been pumping my body full of these indole rings. i can only wonder what sort of havoc it is wreaking on my metabolism.

i promise i will stop if i start seeing things or hearing voices.

i have currently hijacked the 802.11b connection of a subway (why does a subway have an 802.11b connection?) and using cornell's dns servers (theirs are the first that show up on google--which i checked via wml on my cel. it would probably behoove me to memorize google's ip address. just in case.)

anyway, i am just going to paste in a bunch of backlogged entries.

Monday, August 11, 2003

mulling it over, while there is something definitely logical with associating introversion with parasympathetic dominance and extroversion with sympathetic dominance, there is something that doesn't ring true to me. mostly because of my own experiences as an introvert. to me, for some reason, it seems the fundamental differences seem to be at a higher level of neurological functioning. the autonomic nervous system is just too low level for me to believe it entirely. sure, Laney mentions the differences in the cholinergic tracts in the CNS between introverts and extroverts, and the real determinant must be somewhere in the CNS. and, certainly, there is a link to the dopaminergic reward circuit (the mesolimbic dopaminergic tracts). i want to find more scientific papers regarding this topic and hopefully figure out some sort of conclusion.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

so i haven't read anything about serotonin yet (i am most interested in this because i probably have some form of depression: major depressive disorder vs dysthymia) but Laney begins talking about how the adrenergic pathways are more dominant in extroverts while the cholinergic pathways are more dominant in introverts, and this has a sensible symmetry to it, since, at least, as the peripheral nervous system is concerned, the adrenergic pathways govern the sympathetic systems, involved in the "4fs": fighting, fleeing, feeding, and, uh, mating—essentially the response to stress and activity; whereas the cholinergic pathways govern the parasympathetic system, which are often (but not always) in opposition to the sympathetic system, and basically define the resting state. of course, it gets a lot murkier in the central nervous system. acetylcholine is present in diverse tracts in the brain (the nucleus basalis and the ascending reticulating activating sytem are two that come to mind) whose functions are not as easily classifiable, and while the localization of norepinephrine seems to be more discrete (the only thing i can think of right now is the locus ceruleus, though there are others), the difference between the cholinergic pathways and the adrenergic pathways are not as dichotomous as in the peripheral nervous system, nor easily grouped as activating versus resting. (for example, in the CNS, acetylcholine actually ramps up activity—the ARAS is responsible for awareness, plus the cholinergic pathways are what makes nicotine a stimulant; in contrast, in the CNS, norepinephrine actually causes decreased blood pressure (in stark contrast to norepinephrine in the periphery), and is the rationale for using clonidine, and alpha-2 adrenergic agonist, to control hypertension.

i am currently reading The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney, which was mentioned on Slashdot the other day. i've gotten to the section about the possible genetic basis for temperament, specifically regarding the difference between introversion and extroversion. Laney implicates the gene D4DR, i.e., the D4 subtype of the dopamine receptor, which has been tied to novelty-seeking behavior (which itself is highly associated with tendency to addiction.) I think that Laney has mistakenly equated novelty-seeking with extroversion, mostly because whenever i've taken the Meyers-Briggs personality test, i have consistently strongly scored as an introvert, and yet i totally have novelty-seeking behavior. but she also mentions serotonin, and i haven't reached that part of the discussion yet, so maybe i will end up eating my words.

so i was watching MTV's Big Urban Myth and they had this segment about whether or not drinking pickle juice will allow you to pass drug tests that check for THC and its metabolites (which by the way, they said was false) and so, since i almost always watch tv with my ibook on my lap, connected to the net via airport (802.11b for you non-macheads), i decided to check on another purported way to pass the drug test: goldenseal. i think it's false, but i couldn't find anything except on sites that sell things that are supposed to help you pass drug tests. (i won't link to them because i am skeptical of herbal medications sold on the internet, and sometimes they have really off-the-wall pseudoscientific information.) my gut instinct is that it's false, but there are no references on pubmed, so who knows. anyway, searching pubmed led me to this citation regarding ajulemic acid, one of the metabolites of THC. this citation also mentions arachidonylglycine. these substances are supposed to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, but none of the psychotropic effects. apparently, you can buy them for research purposes only at Biomol.

on a related note, apparently nsaids can cause false positives on the THC urine test. but it doesn't matter. i heard from a drug tester that the most reliable test is using hair samples, since THC stays longer there than in the bloodstream.

and, regarding MTV's Big Urban Myth, they also mentioned whether or not you get drunker by drinking through a straw. they said it was false, but my roommate and i think they're wrong. for one thing, ethanol is heavier than water, and so, unless you've mixed them well, the ethanol will sink to the bottom, precisely where the straw will draw up fluid first. for another thing, it think that the decreased intrathoracic pressure when you inhale through the straw does things to your cardiac parameters, making you perhaps feel loopy by primary effect (because of the vagus nerve or some such other), but also by delivering ethanol-imbued blood to your brain with more efficiently.

just so you know, a lot of these things can happen with prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, particularly the psychotropic kind: SSRIs, antipsychotics, stimulants, hell, even cough syrup. so don't assume i'm talking about the illicit substances. and when i am, recognize that everyday i see all sorts of drug users/abusers/addicts roll into the ER, so it's not surprising that i have a clinical perspective on all this. finally, i must admit, my political stance is that a few illicit substances should probably be legalized. hell, if ethanol and nicotine are legal, well, there are certainly a few illicit substances more benign than these. anyone who has ever read a pharmacology textbook will realize this. but without further ado, some anecdotes:

1. do not expose people who have epilepsy or who are on drugs to this website: i saw one of their productions on public access the other night, and it was freaky even to the unaltered mind. actually, it was quite reminiscent to "the ring," so much so that one of my friends decided to call the apartment with his cel phone and tell us that we had one week left to live.

2. some interesting combinations to try when you're really hungry: litchi gummy candy with rum (we used captain morgan, but i'm sure anything will suffice.) sweet corn puffs with dried mangoes. (you'd probably need to go to an asian market for these, except for, i suppose, the rum.)

3. the ending of stanislaw lem's book the chain of chance has a really good description of drug-induced delirium. it's actually very gripping, and reads very authentically.

well, at 1am on a sunday morning, my mind is not in the best condition, so i'll stop here for now.