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I Tried Out Herbal Club Drugs and It Was a Nightmare

There's plenty of pills for sale online offering legal highs—but do they work?
January 26, 2016, 7:10pm
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Never before had I stared into a clogged nightclub toilet and wondered if I'd ever be happy in my life. While other women were performing the rote washroom rituals of lipstick and selfies, I was staring into the murky crystal ball of my future. Praying that the resounding bassline of Hunter Siegel's set would mask the noise, I began to cry—well I tried, anyway. Nothing actually came out besides a few forced whimpers. Then I asked myself: Am I really having an anxiety attack, or is that "herbal cocaine" I took completely fucking with me?


I came across several weeks before that night. The poorly designed, bright green website claims to sell legal herbal highs. For about $25 I could get a 30-pill bottle of not-so-subtly-titled products like XTZ, Cok-N, or Xplode, each of which is advertised as an herbal facsimile of ecstasy, cocaine, and amphetamines, respectively.

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The XTZ pills includes 125 mg of caffeine (a cup of coffee has 95 mg), a dose of amino acids, and the B6 equivalent of eating 30 bananas (B6 supposedly boosts your mood, which definitely can't said for actually eating 30 bananas).

Nothing out of the ordinary so far, but there's also passion flower (supposedly for anxiety) and guarana, a popular stimulant often found in energy drinks. "Hawaiian baby woodrose" was the real mystery of the bunch: a plant that, when consumed, allegedly has both aphrodisiac and hallucinogenic properties.

Still not entirely convinced, I began looking over the "testimonials" section of the site to see what other people were saying. Some guy named Carlos gave a gushing review, "Wow!! Cok-N has taken the party scene by storm. It has become a party must-have for all party lovers and undoubtedly the most popular party pill of all the nightclubs in L.A."

Howard from California wrote, "Cok-N blows your brains out and tightens your jaws; your hair stands on end so that your feet can't escape the dance floor."

What the shit, Howard? That sounds fucking terrible.


Despite realizing that these testimonials seemed suspect, and that this whole enterprise was one of the sketchiest things I'd come across on the internet, I was still curious.

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I felt desperate to try something that didn't make me feel insecure or ashamed while high. Dragging my lifeless corpse into work the next day, after raving until four or five in the morning, was becoming unbearable. All I felt come Monday was depression and inadequacy. I was a part-time cashier at a health food store, with a university degree, living at home. People around me had begun real careers and were traveling around the world. I didn't feel like I deserved to party my face off on the weekends if I didn't have any meaningful goals during the week.

I said fuck it and ordered three products: XTZ, Cok-N, and Xplode. A few weeks later, a beat up India Post package arrived with only a single bottle of Cok-N enclosed. Immediately I called the site's support line, but I could barely convey to the customer service rep what had happened. I played the role of the spoiled Western woman complaining about some self-indulgent product I ordered but hadn't received, and the woman on the other end played the unconvincingly apologetic customer service rep, assuring me I'd receive the rest of the order in ten business days.

The rest of the order never came, so it was just me and my Cok-N.

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As bitter as I was, I'd shelled out triple the cost for just one container of this internet crap, I wasn't about to toss it away now. I decided to take two tablets before heading downtown in Toronto one Friday night. I'd briefed my two friends on the situation, neither of whom were concerned, but rather eager to see how I'd react to the pills.

We arrived at the club to check out Hunter Siegel, and I decided to forego alcohol in order to experience the drug's full effect. About two hours after took the pills, a ball of anxiety started building in my stomach. Suddenly the music, along with everyone including my friends, became just background noise.


I had a ton of energy but no conceivable way to release it. Dancing was out of the question, and the venue was too small to let out a scream without drawing attention.

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My friends didn't seem to notice, or maybe they just thought I was sober and really bored. I felt queasy, but assured them I'd be fine going to the bathroom alone. That's where I became acquainted with the putrid toilet bowl toilet bowl telling me my future.

I took a couple of deep breaths, and even though I now had a massive headache, I was able to leave the women's washroom without wanting to ball my eyes out. In one twist, I was actually thankful that the brevity of the high did share one thing in common with actual cocaine: it didn't last long.

So, what can I say that everyone, including myself, doesn't already know? Don't do drugs? Don't buy things from sketchy sites online?

I can tell you I've since quit my job as a cashier and am focusing on things I love. As for drugs, maybe next time I'll just take a multivitamin, or you know, the real thing.

Adelaide is on Twitter.