Just as there is much to remember and reminisce about in the past 10 years, there is also much that we forgot, thanks to the holes we placed into our memories via drugs. Drugs, of course, are not “new” or “novel” to this decade, but there are certain substances that we will forever associate with this stretch of time, thanks to either cultural phenomena or elating/harrowing personal experiences. Mark this as the decade wherein Four Loko somehow… did not die, and in which eating laundry detergent was a full-fledged internet sensation. As 2019 comes to a creaking halt, may we look fondly back upon some of the dumbest things we—as in “all living people,” not just the VICE staff—put into our bodies the past 10 years. Not all of these drugs were necessarily created within the decade, but they all are unquestionably imbued with 2010s vibes. The anecdotes below were all generously donated by my fellow VICE employees, long may they live.
“Watched 'Boogie Nights' in my srat house the night before Valentines Day/two days before my anthro midterm; don't remember a single second of it. Bitched out my boyfriend the next day, even though we got a nice photo for Instagram and got a D on the midterm.”
“Threw up on the floor of an after hours rave at six in the morning (RIP The Shank), kept ‘raving’ until my romper zipper broke.”
Everything about the aesthetic of the Four Loko can should’ve been warning enough; they’re printed in technicolor camouflage, the font looks like it's having an anxiety attack, and the name messily translates to, literally, “Four Crazy.” And yet, as the decade began, Four Loko was the drink to be holding. The “Four” represents Four Loko’s original cocktail of drugs, a dangerous, bad-boy mix of alcohol, caffeine, taurine, and guarana, that made people feel horny, impenetrable, and drunk all at once.
Throughout 2010, the drink sent dozens of people (mainly college students) to the hospital, was blamed for an actual death, and was quickly banned across handfuls of campuses and even entire states. A more respectable beverage might’ve bowed out and left the party… But Four Loko is no such drink. Altered formulas of Four Loko remained available throughout the decade, and at the very end of 2019, the brand proudly announced a new beverage: Four Loko Seltzer, a 12-percent ABV seltzer (the hardest hard seltz on the U.S. market). “Hard Seltzers ran so we could fly,” is how the brand announced this concoction. It’s almost a comfort that, despite everything that’s changed in the world these past 10 years, Four Loko remains solidly depraved, flying us all drunkenly into the next decade.
Those who spent any part of the 2010s in college or under age 21 will have heard and/or said the following phrase: “Yeah, it’s like weed that you buy at the store.” This is deeply untrue, as we all learned immediately upon consuming salvia. Salvia (short for Salvia divinorum) is a plant with mysterious hallucinogenic properties that is, somehow, able to be sold to anyone old enough to enter a smoke shop (or maneuver around eBay). It’s not technically new to this decade, but its popularity spiked just before the 2010s began, leading many to question whether it should be made illegal (this never really happened).
Try to find someone who had a “cool” experience smoking Salvia, and you will be searching forever; the plant’s hallucinogenic properties are strange and sharp, often causing strong hallucinations and dissociation. They’re also oddly uniform: Many people report seeing worm-like tubes, feeling like someone needs to hold them down so they don’t float away, and feeling like they’re underwater. Despite salvia’s terrible reputation as a recreational drug, its effects on the brain continue to be studied.
“I Was Told It Was Molly, But It Seems to Have Been Some Kind of Speed.”
“Ended in me aggressively chewing the inside of my mouth and rollerblading up some stairs.”
Many will recall the Tide Pod challenge of 2017: a meme that involved teens daring each other to consume blobs of laundry detergent. But real heads will remember that, throughout 2012 and 2013, people were eating these pods for non-meme reasons. Because Tide Pods are colorful, like candy, thousands of people required attention from poison control centers, as a result of eating them. Teens (who were too young to remember this phenomenon) reinvented the concept of eating Tide Pods in the latter half of the decade, once again resulting in attention from poison control centers.
“4 PM: Four pills down. My right ear feels very hot, my feet feel very cold. I am not quite as quick on my feet as normal. I'm missing humor beats. I am feeling slightly forgetful and dazed in general. I want to play the sleeping contest game.
4:05 PM: I do, however, think everything is very funny. Kind of like when you're sleep deprived. It's not unpleasant.” — VICE Tech Editorial Director Jason Koebler, documenting his tryptophan excursion for VICE
“I threw up more violently than I ever had in my entire life. After I threw up I was fine, but like a zombie in some kid's dorm room with half of the seed-eaters, while the other half of the people tripping were in a separate room doing a ‘massage train.’ After I threw up a second time, I went back to my dorm room and laid in bed with all the lights on, and when I woke up, I'd filled out half a transfer application for the University of Hawaii.”
LSA-containing seeds, like those from morning glory and baby woodrose, are certainly not new to the 2010s, but the availability of drugs online exploded throughout the decade, thanks to websites like the Silk Road and eBay.
Mad Dog 2020
“Party bullied me into giving everyone stick and poke tattoos (even though I told them they would be bad), including: A cat on someone's stomach that looks like you forgot to hold down the CTRL key in Photoshop; an asterisk on a finger that ended up being a black oval; ‘S.C.,’ because she stopped me from finishing, ‘S.C.U.M.,’ because, ‘This is enough…’ And then this guy wanted a surprise tattoo, so his friend okayed my idea. He wasn't happy that I spelled his name in symbols including the cool S, the anarchy A, the squat symbol N, the equality E, et cetera.”
In 2012, beauty writer/party girl Cat Marnell snorted a\ line of jasmine-scented bath salts (like, the beauty product) in the xoJane offices: “I'm about to snort a line of bath salts, following the trend of bath salt-snorting worldwide,” she said, unscrewing the lid on a nice little container of Napoleon Perdis salts. Marnell was riffing on the popularity of psychoactive bath salts, which took hold across the U.S. in the first years of the decade. Bath salts were good for making a person extremely alert for way longer than a line of cocaine, and, sold at gas stations around the country, were definitely easier to get.
“Kambo,” or Amazonian Frog Poison
“When the practitioner gave me the kambo, burning eight small holes in my ankle, I felt my face swelling up like a puffer fish—and it stayed like that for two days. You have to be sick, but I couldn't, so [the practitioner] blew some special smoke up my nose and it was hideous, like my brain was being punched from the inside. I lay down under a duvet and shut my eyes, and I felt an overwhelming sense of absolute peace. I felt completely numb, in a good way, like my head wasn't full of crap. For the first time in a while I felt positive—that I was going to be alright. It made me feel stronger." —Emma, who talked to VICE Global Drugs Editor Max Daly in 2016 about using kambo to treat depression
Similar-ish to ayahuasca, kambo (a poisonous liquid emitted by frogs) is a “spiritual” drug that lots of people got into around 2015 to ease a number of ailments: alcohol addiction, depression, pain, et cetera. Also similar to ayahuasca, kambo induces violent puking. There’s a whole ceremony involved; the frog of choice is kept alive with its little limbs tied to sticks, tapped on the head to release the poison, and released back into Nature. The poison is then ingested via a burn on the skin.
“This has to be taken seriously. In other words, the ‘it's only a hallucination’ thing—that horseshit is just passé. I mean, reality is only a hallucination for crying out loud, haven't you heard? So that takes care of that—it's only a hallucination. What we've got here, folks, is an intelligent entelechy of some sort that is frantic to communicate with human beings for some reason.” — Terence McKenna, who is widely considered responsible for the DMT craze
Found naturally in the human body, DMT is also an illegal substance known for causing extremely bizarre hallucinations; its biggest fans herald DMT as the only way to properly tap into what’s real.
CBD—a cannabis-derived chemical compound that’s supposed to do things like heal pain, calm your brain, and help you sleep—is arguably one of the worst wellness trends of 2019, but grew in popularity throughout the decade as hemp was legalized. The best thing about CBD is also the worst thing about CBD: It’s now so readily available, that everyone’s parents and even grandparents have embraced it (and can seemingly never get the acronym right), and yet the reason it’s so ubiquitous is that it’s not regulated at all, meaning its effect are myriad, questionable, and sometimes even absent entirely.
Three of my own grandparents (all in their 70s-80s) use CBD, and in the past year, have referred to it as “CBS,” “CVD,” “CDD,” and “BCD.” I always know what they’re referring to and I never correct them.
“Molly That a French Girl at Coachella Promised Me Was ‘Not Too Strong”
“I thought she was telling the truth so I took a double dose… Got so high I was trying to get the people at the med tent to give me a blood transfusion, so I could have ‘sober blood.’ Then gave up and watched Radiohead. When I calmed down, I went to Jack in the Box and got an Oreo milkshake.”
More misguided salt action: “I was bored at a debate tournament and was dared to snort table salt for $20, which led to a severe nosebleed and headache. I also never got paid.”
“I became addicted to Negronis for a while and was having, like, two a night, not realizing that I was getting extremely tanked, and also that I was gaining an almost comical amount of weight.”
In May 2010, the Awl (a great blog, RIP), published a now-legendary essay titled, “Negroni Season,” which is more about a dirtbag boyfriend than it is about Negronis… But it is also about drinking Negronis. In any case, one could reasonably argue that this was the essay that launched a thousand drink orders, and firmly identified every summertime of the 2010s as “motherfucking Negroni season.”
“Gave this to a friend who had never hallucinated before, and took her to a space-themed frat party where all the walls were covered in emergency blankets. She had a panic attack.”
$1 Crazy Stallion Can (Several)
“Convinced someone to break my friend's coffee table thinking he wouldn't (he did), so hid it under the couch to avoid confrontation. Also made out with someone (not knowing he was in an open relationship) so tried to get his gf to make out with me to ‘even it out’ (succeeded). Sometime later, was squirming away from the guy that broke the table and hit my chin on his head, splitting it open and bleeding everywhere just as everyone was leaving, [and] the hosts (my ex and new gf/now wife) were going to the airport.”
Klonopin + Tecate
"Blacked out and showered at a birthday party with my friend’s gf, and came to in a sailor-themed Bushwick bathroom with the bf friend tonguing an empty bag of molly.”
“Thought it was coke because there was a giant pile of it on a mirror at a Halloween party. Nope! K. Danced like one of those inflatable dudes at a gas station, then blacked out and came to on the sidewalk in Williamsburg, listening to Korn out of a Bluetooth speaker in front of my house.”
“I accidentally did it at a very fancy party in someone's Wall Street apartment, models were singing as, like, a ‘performance,’ and the guy from Gossip Girl and I kept introducing ourselves to people as ‘President Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”
There is perhaps no better drug to close out the decade with than ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic that makes your body feel numb and your brain feel nothing. It’s been popular among British people for years, but just recently started becoming particularly popular stateside. A New York Magazine story from November 2019 documents ketamine as the party drug replacing cocaine; it’s a trend that suggests people don’t want to be hyper-aware and hyper-awake anymore, but instead wish to be completely removed from their surroundings. It’s also a trend that neatly coincides with the latest online discourse of a desire to dissociate. Nothing is more “2010s,” a decade that feels like it spanned 100 years instead of 10, than wanting to take some K and peacefully float above your own body and mind, blissfully and artificially unaware of reality.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Hannah Smothers on Twitter.