looking forward to long summernights on blissed-out ecstasy or mind- fluffing pot? Don't forget, when you're expanding your mind, to protect your body. Some of what gives us joy can be destructive if used too often or carelessly. And hard stuff like heroin or cocaine is never advisable. Still, are there ways to do damage control? The answer is a big maybe.
First off, it depends what you're taking, and the fact is that with street drugs you just don't know. It's always better to establish a relationship with a dealer. You can order a testing kit at www.dancesafe.org that will tell you if your ecstasy pills actually contain the stuff.
Next tip is to avoid mixing poisons. Even some of the "smart drinks" might contain ingredients like ephedrine that mix dangerously with ecstasy or LSD. Stick to your drug of choice plus water.
Some people "pre-load" before ecstasy use with 5-HTP (5 hydroxy-L-tryptophan), since its tryptophan content boosts serotonin and eases the comedown. It's unclear whethert his works or not. Other suggestions include Ovaltine with milk and Marmite, a yeast spread.
If you find yourself in trouble with a pot or LSD high that's too big for you, some users report that a megadose of vitamin C can aid a quick landing. If you didn't bring pills or powder, find oranges or orange juice.
If you know you want to limit your buzz at the outset, take 3,000 mg of C beforehand. B vitamins will have a similar effect -- they help your liver clear chemicals and will aid in detoxing after drug use. It's safe to take up to 500 mg daily of all the Bs except B6, which should be limited to 50 mg. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, and studies on rats show that C and E reduce the brain damage associated with ecstasy.
If you take ecstasy, it's critical to stay hydrated. But even water has its caveats! Drinking too much too fast can dilute your sodium level. Coma and death can result. To stay safe, add 2 teaspoons of salt to every litre of liquid you drink.
Diarrhea or vomiting calls for potassium -- bananas are a good source -- calcium, magnesium and sodium.
If you've been taking pot, cocaine or heroin and you want to get off the stuff, you could try the appropriate homeopathic remedy: cannabis, cocaine or opium. The theory is that anything taken in homeopathic form reverses the symptoms it causes. But using homeopathy takes some planning, since these remedies are illegal in Canada. One firm here imports them but wishes to remain nameless; a homeopath will know how to obtain and use them. Never substitute an alternative remedy for emergency medical care.
All our experts point out that using street drugs is a choice against health.
"If agitated, a person could take calcium and magnesium. Taking 50 to 300 mg daily of 5-HTP builds up serotonin in the brain and offsets some bad effects of amphetamines (like ecstasy).
ZOLTAN RONA Nutritional physician
"5-HTP might help with depression after ecstasy. But we don't have the scientific data to know whether it works."
STEPHEN MEREDITH Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
"Nux vomica is good for general overindulgence: alcohol, tobacco and probably drugs. 30C is the safest first-aid potency. For very severe symptoms, you can take it every five minutes."
TAMARA DER-OHANIAN Homeopath
"The reason you get high is because you've overloaded your liver. Maximize liver detox -- lemon juice, dandelion tea, water, beet juice. Antioxidants, vitamin C, CoQ10 are all important."
NANA CHANG Naturopath